Comedian Jessica Halem gets down and dirty

REBECCA HALE
Assistant Reverb Editor

Jessica Halem, who introduced herself as “a radical, Jewish, feminist queer stand-up comic,” and whose career she describes as “generally being pissed off for a living,” put on quite a jaw-dropping act in Marvel Theatre last Tuesday. Halem is not a cautious comic who treads lightly around social taboos, but is a rather balls-out woman who isn’t afraid to make fun of every social group.

“I felt so much better after coming here,” said Mac Magwood, a junior social work major who attended Halem’s performance. “I was really feeling like shit earlier.”

Halem began by immediately calling out the audience, urging students to identify themselves if they were gay, lesbian, trans or any other identity. Members of S.T.E.P.S., who put together the act, along with Spectrum, were sitting up front, yelling and showing their support as allies and members of the community.

After Halem had established that the room was a safe environment for everyone, she began hilariously attacking individual groups.

“You’re straight?” she asked a few students. “The night is young!” she then exclaimed.

“I do identify as queer because college made me queer,” Halem said. “It was doing women and gender studies together [that did it].”

Halem encouraged students to explore their sexualities, saying, “At some point you’ve got to put theory to [the] test!”

“It’s really a service,” she continued, in reference to being good in the sack. “You should put that on your resume!”

Halem then proceeded with a demonstration of how to properly pleasure a woman, causing the room to erupt into uproars of laughter. Then, with a straight face, she asked, “Does S.T.E.P.S. do workshops on fisting?”

Still, though she is queer herself, Halem had plenty of cracks toward those “hummus-loving lesbians.”

“I don’t go to church, I go to brunch,” she stated. “And be careful with those vegan [queers], they can be bitchy!”

Halem also made fun of the gay dudes in the room, in reference to the website Grindr: “Now you can sit in your room and order up a blowjob!” she exclaimed.

And for non-feminist women, Halem had plenty to say.

“I knew I wanted to be a feminist in the third grade,” Halem said. “There’s no such thing as fairy godmothers and princesses — put on your boots and go to work. F*ck the princesses.”

Halem then went on to pick on the party scene, particularly the tendency for girls to wear skimpy clothes in freezing weather:

“You need to put on some real pants and some shoes you can walk across the street in!” she shouted.

“I promise you’ll still get laid! He thinks you have a vagina,” she continued through the hooting and laughter. “I don’t care what gender you are, you need to put on some seasonal clothes!”

A surprising amount of students attended the event as a part of Welcome Week, especially freshmen.

“I think attendance was really good, especially because we didn’t have a lot of advertising, but it was an amazing turnout,” said Alice Mezhibovsky, a senior psychology major who helped usher the event.

“And I think she was so funny,” Mezhibovsky continued. “I like how she made light of so many physical issues and just made them funny and cool.”

Halem’s performance was not only funny and entertaining, but it was almost educational. Fredonia is a university where many students identify with different social groups, and Halem helped to demonstrate that.

Claire Lunderman, president of S.T.E.P.S. and a senior dual major in women and gender studies and international studies, explained: “When students attend events like this they are exposed to many different individuals and topics that many of us are afraid to discuss, but we are there to give you the information and advice you need.”

Although some may have been uneasy at the mention of “fisting,” Halem’s way of poking fun at everyone made the room more comfortable, and hopefully made some students more confident in their own skins.

“It’s a good event to explain where resources on campus are, and to provide a safe space for students in the queer community and feminist community. We are all working towards a common cause, and it only get better when it grows,” Lunderman said.

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