Rob Bebenek logs on from Canada for a unique comedy event

By Christian McCarville

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many aspects of life cannot return to the way they were. Stand-up comedy certainly falls into this category, along with many other performance acts. However, the Student Entertainment Council has found a way to incorporate stand-up comedy into a remote format for Rider students to enjoy.

Comedian Rob Bebenek was selected as the comedian for the event on Sept. 25. Bebenek has worked with MTV Canada and headlined a large number of comedy festivals. He was also a finalist in Sirius XM’s Top Comic and has opened for Bob Saget, Steve-O, Gerry Dee and more.

Bebenek’s set began as he logged onto the Zoom meeting at 8 p.m., standing in front of a brick wall that imitated a traditional stand-up comedy backdrop.

He began the set by interacting with audience members who had their web cameras on within the Zoom meeting. He asked many questions to the audience regarding their college experience during the pandemic.

Bebenek expressed a lot of sympathy for those enrolled in college during these difficult times of remote learning and precautionary safety measures.

“Comedy is weird right now, but it’s got to be weirder for you guys,” said Bebenek.

The audience agreed and shared some of their own college experiences during the unique fall semester. Bebenek was entertained by this and shared a few of his own stories from his time in college. Living in Toronto, Bebenek also shared many of his experiences from his life in Canada.

“The drinking age is, like, 12 in Canada,” joked Bebenek.

He also explained that the majority of Canadians are concentrated in major cities. Following this, he gave some insight as to why Canadians tend to make fun of Americans. Bebenek explained that much of what happens in America affects Canada, citing the recent California wildfires as an example.

Throughout the set, Bebenek repeatedly asked questions from the crowd and drew inspiration from their answers. This was fairly unique to the remote format of the event. While comedians commonly interact with crowd members during their in-person sets, the majority of Bebenek’s performance revolved around candid audience interactions and improvised jokes.

“I enjoyed how [Bebenek] interacted with the students on the Zoom call,” said senior elementary education major Elaina Stark. “I had the opportunity to briefly talk to him about Philadelphia sports.”

Throughout the event, Bebenek covered many different topics including his childhood, his father and even a little bit of politics. He also joked about his generation in comparison to those older than him.

“We grew up without computers but we still know how to turn files into PDFs,” said Bebenek.

Despite the wide variety of subject material, he frequently circled back to discussing life during COVID-19. Bebenek made a few jokes at the expense of COVID-19 deniers while reinforcing the need to trust science and stay safe.

After about an hour of jokes, stories from his life in Canada and discussion with audience members, Bebenek concluded the event and logged out of the Zoom call.

While performing stand-up comedy remotely was surely not an ideal circumstance, Bebenek made the most of his situation and catered his set towards the unique virtual format.

“I was unsure how this event would go, especially since I had never seen a comedian perform live on a Zoom call,” said Stark. “However, I truly enjoyed the show and was pleasantly surprised by Bebenek’s performance.”

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