Connecticut Forum Hosts ‘Laughter, Anyone? An Evening with Comedians’

Trinity College Students, Staff, and Faculty Attend Star-Studded Discussion of Comedy

​Hartford, Connecticut, December 19, 2017 – Trinity College students, staff, and faculty members attended the latest event in the Connecticut Forum series titled, “Laughter, Anyone?” featuring comedians Fred Armisen, Tig Notaro, and Marc Maron. Held on Saturday, November 18, at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Hartford, the discussion was moderated by Colin McEnroe, a WNPR radio host and weekly columnist for The Hartford Courant who also teaches media studies courses at Trinity. Trinity is an education partner of the Connecticut Forum, which supports open dialogue, lifelong learning, and the free and active exchange of ideas.

(Left-right) Colin McEnroe moderated the Connecticut Forum discussion between comedians Fred Armisen, Tig Notaro, and Marc Maron.​
Armisen is an 11-season veteran of Saturday Night Live; Notaro received a Grammy nomination for her 2016 HBO comedy special, Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted; and Maron is an actor, writer, and the host of the podcast WTF with Marc Maron. In the first half of the session, the panelists talked about their respective journeys toward pursuing comedy as a career. They shared a unanimous opinion that none of them expected audiences to laugh at their jokes at first. Notaro said, “I would practice to myself in the mirror, so when I heard the first laugh at the open mic night, I was shocked. I did not account for that.”

McEnroe asked the panelists questions about comedy as a profession and where the line should be drawn between what comics can and cannot talk and joke about. Maron said, “You have the freedom to say what you want.”

Armisen added, “I feel the same way. If you don’t like it, then move on. You can also leave.”

A highlight of the evening was Maron’s recounting of then-President Obama’s visit to his house to record a podcast episode in his garage studio. “The Secret Service asked to put snipers on my neighbor’s roof,” he said. Armisen performed a bit of his impression of Obama, whom he portrayed on Saturday Night Live.

(Above) Tig Notaro and Marc Maron. (Below)Fred Armisen. Photos by Nick Caito, courtesy of The Connecticut Forum.

The panel also discussed the significance of recent political events on comedy. Maron was of the opinion that speaking about President Trump in a comical way is a choice to push back. He said, “Comedy is actively profound, satirical, and educative.”

McEnroe further inquired about how the 2016 presidential election results influenced the second season of Notaro’s Amazon series, One Mississippi. “All the female writers had a lot to say,” Notaro said. “Being from Mississippi, I wanted to show the beauty of the place and its people in the first season. But it is also a responsibility to show the other side, so the election outcome was a way into discussing racism and sexual assault.”

Angela Wolf, director of planning and operations for the Computing Center in Trinity’s Information Technology Services office, is a season ticket holder and said she learns something new at all of the Connecticut Forum events. She particularly enjoyed Armisen’s descriptions of his construction of impressions. “It was fascinating listening to him describe someone’s behaviors, while watching his posture and gestures change to mimic that person,” Wolf said. “He also had a remarkable sense of language and local accents. There was a point where he was going through Texas accents, and he was describing the way each sounded while speaking with it.”

Wolf said that she enjoys hearing from the entertaining and knowledgeable panelists invited by the Connecticut Forum. “It gives us all a chance to consider a subject that may not come up often, and get facts and opinions from people who have expertise,” said Wolf. “The organization also engages local teenagers to participate with the speakers and topics through the Connecticut Youth Forum, which is a remarkable opportunity.” Trinity College hosted a 2015 Connecticut Youth Forum discussion about race and racism. The Youth Forum is open to high school students from Connecticut who want to discuss important issues and connect with one another across geographic, racial, economic, and social divides.

Connecticut Forum events are live, unscripted conversations among renowned experts and celebrities. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to encourage the free and active exchange of ideas in forums that inform, challenge, entertain, inspire, and build bridges among all people and organizations in the community. The next Forum event will be “The State of Journalism and the News” on March 16, 2018. For a full schedule of upcoming Connecticut Forum programs, click here.

Written by Bhumika Choudhary ’18