The University of Wyoming hosted a number of big names this academic year, from politicians such as former NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen to scholars such as Harvard University Professor Stephen Walt to conservative talk show host Dennis Prager.
In less than a month, UW plans to host another — Trevor Noah, a face familiar to many as the host of “The Daily Show,” a left-leaning satirical news program aired by Comedy Central.
He is also an accomplished, award-winning stand-up comedian, and three of his stand-up specials are currently available on Netflix.
“I would say the campus is buzzing with excitement right now,” said Julie Curtis, large-scale events coordinator for 7220 Entertainment — the campus organization hosting the event. “We’ve been doing tabling events to market for the show. And it seems that, in person, the students and staff are very excited. We also have the Facebook event and it’s definitely drawn a lot of interest. We have about 2,400 people that are interested.”
If all 2,400 expressing interest on Facebook tried to buy tickets, however, at least a quarter of them would be out of luck. Noah is scheduled to perform March 2 in the UW College of Arts and Sciences Auditorium — a space with roughly 1,800 seats.
“People should get their tickets when they can,” Curtis said.
The event is being co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and its newly formed School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice.
Noah’s comedy frequently cites his own observations on race in America — as a mixed-race South African born under Apartheid — and his satire generally takes a progressive stance.
His comedic focus makes Noah a perfect speaker for the School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice to co-sponsor, said Jacquelyn Bridgeman, UW’s Kepler Professor of Law, who is serving as the school’s interim director.
“We think his comedy is directly aligned with the kinds of issues and things we work on in our school,” she said. “We just hope that people in the community … will come because it’s certainly open to everybody.”
As part of reorganizations brought on by budget cuts in 2017, UW brought together four programs — African American and Diaspora Studies, American Indian Studies, Latino/Latina Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies — into one school, officially established July 1.
The new school adds a social justice bent to the collection of programs under its direction, Bridgeman said.
“We were looking for an event as a way to launch the school and establish the new school on campus and the College of Arts and Sciences, where the new college is housed, had a call for proposals for a speaker,” she said. “They had some money they wanted to use, basically to enhance education for the year and one of those things that they wanted to use it for was for a major speaker.”
The School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice teamed up with 7220 Entertainment — a part of the Campus Activities Center — and won with their proposal.
“We figured the money we had — the seed money we had — plus their connections and abilities would allow us to bring in a bigger speaker than either of us could do on our own,” Bridgeman said.
UW Spokesman Chad Baldwin said the university could not release the dollar amount paid to bring Noah to campus until the contract is signed. The contract was still unsigned at deadline Thursday.
Before deciding on Noah, the School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice and 7220 Entertainment tossed around a few ideas for big name speakers, Bridgeman said.
“He was definitely toward the top of the list,” she said. “For the school, we wanted folks like Michelle Obama … but she was a whole lot more money and a security nightmare, so that wasn’t going to work out.”
Noah’s show starts at 8 p.m. March 2 in the UW College of Arts and Sciences Auditorium. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for UW students, $30 for UW faculty and staff and $40 for the public. Student are able to buy tickets now at the Wyoming Union Information Desk. Faculty and staff tickets go on sale Monday. Tickets for the public go on sale Thursday.
Call the Campus Activities Center at 766-6340 for more information.