Comedy turns to controversy

Photo illustration by Grant Oysten

By Peter Brown and Kenny Johnson
On May 5, Fitchburg State College student Jon Del Sesto was supposed to do a 10-minute comedy routine to open for magician Norman Ng. Anybody who has heard Del Sesto’s standup knows the sometimes crude or even mildly offensive nature of his jokes, but clearly there is evidence that he’s one of the best we have here on campus.  “When Jon steps onto the stage, the crowd goes nuts. Everybody loves him!” said junior resident Gio Deleon. 

This looked to be the case again as he grabbed that microphone, but this show would be different than most. “I decided to use the time to talk about problems in the college and the community,” Del Sesto said. When giving his speech, he initially targeted Fitchburg Activities Board, the group putting on the event. “I started ragging on about them, about the way they go about doing things.”

The sense of comedy was a bygone; this time, Del Sesto was offering more of a rant about FSC, with topics ranging from the dining-hall food to the increased cost of tuition.  There was a low blow here and a low blow there. Although this was a far more serious outing than expected, there were certainly still plenty of laughs; after all, Del Sesto was addressing legitimate problems that students face every day.
 “[I] didn’t know what to expect,” Del Sesto said. “I wanted to get everything I had to say out in case anyone tried to cut me off.”
Del Sesto’s friends were rowdy from the get-go, chatting and waiting for their friend’s speech while the other students were unaware of what was going to happen. Though the crowd was divided, by the end of his speech he said he had “moved on to other points about the president and campus police [and once] students could relate … they started joining with applause and cheers.”
When the performance concluded, Del Sesto was not released into the loving arms of his fans, but instead was taken aside to have a talk with Hank Parkinson, the director of student development.
While that was going on, a few members of Del Sesto’s fan club made a quick trip up the steps to the library and printed flyers that said, “Free Jon” – not just a few flyers, but 10 or 15 of them.
Del Sesto may not have needed the help, though; he said his talk with Parkinson didn’t result in any bad blood. “Hank and I are on good terms,” he said.
“It had a nice Hollywood ending,” Del Sesto said of the evening’s events. “Hank has set up a meeting for me and some students to express our concerns.”
As far as he’s concerned, the unexpected speech worked. “If anyone felt that what happened was negative, by this time it’s clearly visible that only good is going to come from this,” Del Sesto said.
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