By: Tristan Leach
Laughter rang throughout the Cavalla Room as actor, writer and comedian Francis Ellis cracked several jokes. With a bright smile, he watched as an audience of students laughed audibly.
Ellis was invited by The Student Entertainment Council to perform on Nov. 11. His many credits include writing for Barstool Sports, musical comedy songs about “Game of Thrones” and earlier this year, being featured at the Moontower Comedy Festival.
Though the audience was small, those who attended were met with jokes that made it hard to breathe. The show started with Ellis dialoguing as he walked to the stage. The long walk from his dressing room to the stage allowed him to survey his audience. Ellis sported a grey Rider shirt gifted to him by the Student Entertainment Council.
He expressed his happiness for being invited to Rider, saying he thought a small school meant cooler and nicer people. He then joked that it also meant a small audience, saying “Nice to see so few of you here.”
The comedian was big on jokes pertaining to greek life on campus. Interacting with the brothers of several different fraternities in the audience, Ellis told his own stories about college and his experiences with other fraternities. The brothers were in stitches most of the time, whooping and clapping at Ellis’s jokes.
Jokes and stories about COVID-19 were a significant part of the show. Ellis did not wear a mask, but everyone in attendance was required to. Ellis revealed that he and his fiancée left New York City during the pandemic because they could not work in the same space. He went on to say that he knew he was ready to be married because all his friends were doing it. Saying, “If we can survive a pandemic together, we can survive a life together.”
Ellis had a variety of themes he returned to throughout the show. Not only were fraternity and pandemic jokes some of his favorite, but also “Harry Potter” and musical theater jokes. He joked that any musical theater kids in the audience were going to haunt him for the rest of his life.
Ironically, there were a few performing arts students in the audience. The friends laughed at the jokes about their major with a glint in their eyes. Sophia Porter, a freshman acting major, chuckled, “I didn’t know who the guy was, but I was thoroughly surprised and I enjoyed my time. It was very fun on a Thursday night.”
As the show concluded, Ellis thanked everyone for attending, saying that Rider students were “learning scholars and classy folks.” Ellis smiled, waved and exited the stage
Students left their seats, retelling some of their favorite jokes from the night.
Emily Paruk, a freshman acting major, was one of the audience members talking excitedly to her friends.
Paruk said, “There were moments during the show where I felt like I was laughing so hard that even after the joke, I had to hold back my laughter. I still felt like I wanted to continue laughing; it was thoroughly enjoyable and very very fun.”
Students thanked the Student Entertainment Council as they left the Cavalla Room. The show was a good start to the weekend ahead.