A re-enactment of a scene from the movie “The Fugitive” and chocolate covered pretzels were just some of the highlights from this year’s “Hunger Is No Laughing Matter” comedy show, presented by Sun Life Financial.
This past Saturday, nearly 1,000 people filed into the Pageant in University City for the second annual event that helps raise awareness and funds for the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
Comedian John Mulaney headlined and brought an hour-long set of brand new material. As he usually is, Mulaney was smart, cutting, and a fantastic storyteller. Since moving from his hometown of Chicago, he has had no shortage of interesting encounters in New York City. He recounted a few of those interactions, mixed in some anecdotes about family road trips, his mother’s famous college classmate (Bill Clinton) and at one point re-enacted a scene from “The Fugitive,” which had numerous scenes filmed in his hometown’s own Palmer House Hilton.
One of the night’s most memorable moments came when Mulaney seemed to veer from his routine to take note of a Foodbank poster on the stage that featured a picture of young boy with a mouth full of spaghetti, remarking how the boy looked surprised to have his picture taken. He proceeded to make a few more jokes from there. I’ve walked by that poster numerous times in our hallways here at the Foodbank and I don’t I’ll ever look at the picture the same way again.
He actually started his set by taking a few light-hearted jabs at me for coming up right before him and promising the crowd chocolate covered pretzels from Mom’s Originals at the end of the night and letting everyone know that if they made a $10 donation through Givver.com, they could get a free pizza from Pi Pizzeria. “Why would anyone want to stay to listen to my jokes when Ryan has promised you all free chocolate covered pretzels and discounted pizza? Now everyone’s just waiting for me to get off the stage,” he remarked.
Throughout the night Mulaney interacted with some audience members, including a couple in the front row that he couldn’t believe had been married for 19 years. He seemed genuinely shocked and asked them what there was to do in St. Louis since his flight left at 3am and he was planning on staying up until it was time to head to Lambert. His request for suggestions elicited an all-too-familiar St. Louis response of, “go to the East Side.” John remarked that the gentleman who shouted that out seemed a little too anxious to make the remark and that the crowd member might be trying to get him killed.
Great comedians make it look effortless and that’s exactly what John did from the moment he stepped on-stage. I know everyone at the Foodbank was thankful that he was a part of the evening.
Carmen Lynch, who was hand-picked by Mulaney, was a great addition to the line-up and St. Louisan Dan Chopin kept things flowing as the evening’s emcee, which included a 15-minute set to kick things off.
The goal of the evening was to provide an affordable night out that, where attendees could learn a little more about the Foodbank and have a good time while they were doing it. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone that was in attendance on Saturday that would say it accomplished anything other than that. Thank you to everyone that came out and helped make it a success.
By Ryan Farmer
Communications manager at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.