Students entered the comedy show Stand-Up & Vote on Sept. 12 already expecting a star-studded lineup. The Office of Undergraduate Students-sponsored event included host Mike Birbiglia, rapper and comedian Jean Grae, author John Hodgman, and “The Daily Show” correspondents Ronny Chieng and Roy Wood Jr.
Then entered Jon Stewart.
Stewart, the former and longtime host of “The Daily Show,” was a surprise guest for the night, after current “Daily Show” correspondent Hasan Minhaj canceled.
“We thought, ‘Why don’t we go the other way with it and give a shot to somebody from New Jersey?’” Birbiglia said to the audience, according to an Instagram video he posted that night.
Stewart is originally from Lawrenceville.
When Birbiglia welcomed Stewart to the stage, the filled-to-capacity crowd rose to their feet.
“When I saw Jon Stewart, I just thought, ‘Oh, my god. No way,’” Angela Yang ’21 said. “In my mind, I just pictured all the times I saw him on ‘The Daily Show.’ It was surreal.”
Samarie Wilson ’21 recounted a particularly funny quip that Birbiglia made when he brought Stewart onto the stage.
“Wow, that’s the Princeton experience when you expect a random comedian and end up with Jon Stewart,” she said.
Amanda Morrison ’19, a student leader for Vote100, mentioned that neither the student leaders nor ODUS knew that Stewart would appear.
“We were told there was going to be a surprise special guest, and we didn’t even know until he was called onto the stage,” she said.
Stand-Up & Vote was the kick-off event of the Vote100 initiative, a University student-led campaign that “embraces the challenge that every eligible undergraduate voter will cast a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections and will commit to voting in all future elections in which they are eligible,” according to the organization’s website.
On its website, Vote100 cites a report from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement at Tufts University, which found that only 18 percent of college students and 12 percent of college students aged 18–21 years old voted in the 2014 U.S. midterm elections.
For the show, Vote100 teamed up with the Stand-Up & Vote tour, which aims to promote voter registration through live comedy shows. After each event, students have the chance to register to vote with the help of volunteers.
Morrison mentioned that the comedians who performed often incorporate political aspects in their comedy, although the content of their acts at Stand-Up & Vote was left entirely to their discretion.
“Comedy kind of universally encourages political participation and engagement,” said Morrison. “It particularly seemed an effective tool for an undergraduate student body.”
“[The show] really reminded me to go vote,” said Yang. “Before, I was a little more politically apathetic. But after, I’m really behind the Vote100 group on campus.”
Yang added that she even began filling out her absentee ballot form because of the show.
The comedy show was held at 7:30 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Proceeds from the event will benefit three nonprofit, nonpartisan voting organizations: HeadCount, Rock The Vote, and Vote.org.