It was 11:30 on a Friday night in April, and more than 200 students were waiting eagerly for the doors of the Frist theater to open. Some had arrived as much as an hour early to ensure admission to Princeton’s hottest form of weekend entertainment: a monthly talk show hosted by David Drew ’14.
Onstage, a desk with a homemade sign, a couch, and some garage-band-style equipment set the modest scene. All-Nighter with David Drew does not air on TV, but students have been squeezing into the aisles for a chance to see some of the best-known figures on campus tell stories and crack jokes.
Drew begins each episode with a run-through of Princeton news and a brief mention of quirky stories from the national headlines, followed by an hour of interviews, musical performances, and comedy skits.
“It’s kind of like SNL meets a talk show,” explained Amy Solomon ’14, the manager of All-Nighter.
A staple of each episode is the token “grown-up guest” — on this night, Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80. She had the audience roaring with laughter.
In the middle of describing her work at the New America Foundation — the nonprofit organization that she is leaving Princeton to lead — Slaughter paused and asked Drew, “You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”
Drew admitted that he did not, then moved on to the next segment, which involved showing Slaughter photos of well-known women and asking whether or not they “have it all” — a reference to her famous article in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”
President Tilghman and Beyoncé both got an affirmative vote from Slaughter. Sarah Palin? “Still looking for it.”
Solomon said she offers professors the chance to sneak out after their appearance, since the show runs so late, but no one has been able to tear himself away.
The April episode also included a musical number called “Majoring in Slavic Is Fun,” in which the singer enumerated the perks — caviar, dancing bears, and “sordid love affairs”— of joining the smallest department on campus. This was followed by a conversation with three senior soccer players who call themselves the “Elder Council,” since they spend most of their time presiding over the bench.
Drew, Solomon, and Adam Mastroianni ’14 came up with the idea for All-Nighter last summer after agreeing that there was not enough sketch comedy on campus. All three have been members of Quipfire!, Princeton’s improv comedy group, since their freshman year.
The All-Nighter show seeks out guests “who appeal to diverse sectors of campus,” Drew said. Popular segments from previous shows included a pun-off with poet and creative writing professor Paul Muldoon and election analysis with neuroscientist Sam Wang.
Except for the show, suggested co-host Mastroianni, “you never really get to see professors talked to. They’re surprisingly funny.”