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Kober kicks off new semester as opening night comedian

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On the eve of a new semester, comedian Jen Kober scored a once-in-a-lifetime chance to welcome the 2020s for returning University of New Hampshire (UNH) students however she saw fit. She did it – how else – through comedy, achieved in an hour-long performance on Sunday, Jan. 20 at 9 p.m. at the Memorial Union Building (MUB) Strafford Room. 

The event, sponsored by the MUB and LGBTQIAP+ student group Alliance, saw Kober – a native of Lake Charles, LA, best known for her roles in films like “The Purge” and television shows such as “Dead to Me” and “Diary of a Female President” – greet both students and members of UNH’s Leadership Camp Program and other attendees with fleeting gratitude toward New Hampshire, the supposed successor to “Old Hampshire” that she said was not “very fun at all.” And fleeting it was; immediately following her praise, Kober admitted that she was not a native of the Northeastern U.S. and, therefore, not the biggest fan of its cooler climate. 

“I’m from Louisiana but I live in California among the beautiful people where I belong, and… it was 72 degrees when I left there this morning,” she explained to the crowd of roughly 70. “Yeah, there’s a sun, you guys, there’s a sun.” 

When she finally landed in Boston to begin her eastern university tour, however, that 72 degrees had fallen to 19, a number she called “a soccer score; that’s not even like a temperature.” 

The one thing that threw Kober off even more than the lack of warmth: the abundance of Dunkin’ stores “on every f****** corner. I was literally standing at a Dunkin’ Donuts waving to another fat b**** in a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street! Like, is there a mirror here? What’s happening? Why does she have sprinkles?!?” 

Kober also shared her equally frustrating experiences in more familiar environments, such as the set of Ru Paul’s “AJ and The Queen,” where Paul attempted to persuade Kober to shave her hair into a mohawk. 

“I was playing a sheriff because this is what they look like… he thinks it [the mohawk] will be very powerful for the part, and I was upset because I was like, ‘Apparently Ru Paul wants everyone to look like a woman except me,’” she recalled. “I look like Bert from Ernie and Bert!” 

While she ultimately got the mohawk – “because when Ru Paul asks you to do something, you f*****g do it,” she retorted – a sudden rainstorm forced Kober to wear a hat for the entire scene, making the entire scenario pointless. 

Fitness was often equally maddening for Kober, as she recalled a time she received a Fitbit from her vegan wife for her birthday, a gift she called “house arrest for fat people,” in no part thanks to the watch sending over text messages to Kober’s wife showcasing her daily steps. 

Kober at first expressed outrage that she was unable to reach a seemingly impossible goal of 10,000 steps a day, even when making walking her sole means of transportation and walking to and from the TV to change the channel. That is, until she discovered a cheat: moving her hand and fooling the watch, accomplished daily at 3 p.m. in her bedroom thanks to a little “ménage à {mwah?}.” 

“Laugh all you want, ladies; 9,872 steps.” Enthusiastic applause quickly followed. 

The show took an unexpected turn, however, when Kober encouraged a student to take her spot onstage after stating they could be just as funny. The student’s ensuing two-minutes found attendees laughing at jokes and jabs at Leadership Camp, which she was a part of, and her fellow students. 

“So how is she as a standup comedian?” Kober asked following the student’s performance; one student yelled out, “She’s alright.” 

“Oh, excuse me, b****, come up here and test me,” the student jokingly threatened.  

“It’s harder than it looks, I’m just saying,” Kober said upon returning onstage. 

Despite the laughs that formed the event’s core, Kober ended the night on a serious note as she sent out words of wisdom and encouragement to the audience.  

“You’re college people and you have dreams, and maybe you’re going to feel like that dream cannot come true,” Kober said. “Let me tell you something: I tell jokes all over the world! This is what I wanted to do since I was 6 years old, and people pay me to do this, and it’s a f****** dream come true. Do not give up on what you want to do; all things can happen.” 

Attendees, especially those from Leadership Camp, responded to the event, who expressed gratitude for the chance to end their experience on a high note.  

“I think it’s just a good way to bring people together,” sophomore exercise science major Kevin Cusik said. “Most of the people tonight were from Leadership Camp, but I feel like the bigger crowd helps bring people together.” 

“We all know she’s a lesbian, so the gays; we’re here for the gays,” first-year mechanical engineering major Elena Chan added. “[This event] shows that minorities can get where they want and it’s not all just straight, white old men; it’s good.”  

Sophomore computer science major John Snow, who occasionally “dabbles in comedy,” told The New Hampshire that comedians like Kober have helped inspire him to potentially establish a standup comedy club on campus and try out the artform for himself. 

“I kind of think that I’m a philosopher; I try to pretend like I’m just smiling, like I’m not laughing, [and] I’m like, ‘Wow, that was clever,’” Snow said. “I’m one of those guys.” 

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