Keith Habersberger, known for his Buzzfeed videos, visited Rowan University on Friday, April 15 to perform his solo comedy routine in the Student Center Pit.
Having joined Buzzfeed in January 2014, Habersberger has been featured in a variety of videos, but he is most well-known for the Try Guys video series. These videos — which star Habersberger and three other guys, Ned Fulmer, Eugene Lee Yang and Zach Kornfeld — document their adventures as they try a variety of food, items and activities outside popular culture.
For Habersberger, the appeal is not only to try new things, but to also bring awareness to different subcultures and communities.
“With Try Guys, a lot of it has been us trying to find things that need better representation and making interesting content around that, but in that we often learn so much about what we’re making the video on,” Habersberger said. “A lot of it’s trying to spread awareness about things and letting people know that everyone’s in the same position. Everybody wants to be represented and everybody has a struggle.”
The event was run by Rowan After Hours (RAH) as part of their comedy series.
“This is the finale of our comedy series, so we wanted to end it with a bang,” said Emily Kofman, the Graduate Coordinator of RAH and studying higher education administration. “We’re hoping that students, especially as we get closer to finals, can relax and enjoy a comedian [who] is so prevalent on the internet right now.”
Although not a stranger to comedy or the stage, this routine marked Habersberger’s first time performing solo in front of a crowd. He used it as an opportunity to talk about his life before Buzzfeed, including stories from his childhood as well as videos and content he made before he was well-known.
“It’s basically a grab-bag of a lot of different content and stories of my life because people only know me from Buzzfeed videos,” Habersberger said. “I’m trying to give context to where I came from, my sense of humor outside of Buzzfeed stuff, and then even showing how I went from being an improviser who made $15,000 a year professionally to someone people know by my first name because of internet.”
Habersberger spoke about a variety of topics, including his experience with a roommate at band camp who had night terrors, making babies smile without letting the adults around him know, fried chicken and his over two-year stint trying to convince Tim Meadows, an American actor known for comedy, via social media to get pizza with him.
Habersberger, who lived in Chicago starting in his teenage years, learned Tim Meadows was also from the city. As a joke, he began posting on Facebook, asking Meadows to get pizza with him when he’s in the area. There were some moments of hope when Meadows reached out and said he might be interested in getting pizza one day. Ultimately, Habersberger never dined with Meadows. As one last attempt, Habersberger created a music video begging Meadows to let him buy the actor pizza, all while sexily playing with pizza and letting sauce rain down on him.
Habersberger’s online content, including the Tim Meadows video as well as many others, is what eventually landed him the job at Buzzfeed.
“As digital media and entertainment has progressed, you kind of have to produce yourself,” Habersberger said. “When I was in college, I wasn’t necessarily cast in leads in plays or even cast in plays, so I produced my own plays or my own improv shows. Digital media very much allows you to produce yourself and you’re only limited by what you can do. I learned everything so I wasn’t held back by anything.”
With over 200 students in attendance, the event was deemed a success, according to Kofman.
“I loved it,” said Bobby Samuel, a junior mechanical engineering major. “I’ve been to a lot of stand-up, actually. I’ve seen a lot of people on cruise ships. I’ve seen Chris Tucker and Kevin James do stand up. [Keith Habersberger] was probably one of the best [comedians] I’ve seen.”
Many people in the crowd were familiar with Habersberger’s work, but even those who were not were able to enjoy his comedy routine.
“I knew Buzzfeed existed but I didn’t really know [Keith Habersberger] beforehand,” said Dino Arhontoulis, a junior radio, television and film major. “But I figured it’s Friday, I’ll give him a chance. It was one of the best times I ever had. [He was] definitely one of the best comedians I’ve ever seen.”
As someone who has worked long and hard to get where he is today, Habersberger offers this advice to college students:
“You have to fail all the time to succeed,” Habersberger said. “Accept that you’re going to fail, but you can’t let that stop you. You have to believe in yourself and keep trying. Eventually doors will open if you are open to them opening.”
– Featured image: Tyler Waddington and Megan McHugh, Assistant Director of RAH, connect Habersberger to the Wi-Fi as he narrates in song. Habersberger wanted to look up fried chicken on YouTube for his comedy bit. – Assistant Photo Editor/Amanda Palma
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