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Meet new Pitt Tonight Host Andrew Dow

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Jesse Irwin leaves Andrew Dow with the job of hosting Pitt Tonight. (Photo Courtesy of Pitt Tonight)

Jesse Irwin leaves Andrew Dow with the job of hosting Pitt Tonight. (Photo Courtesy of Pitt Tonight)

Jesse Irwin leaves Andrew Dow with the job of hosting Pitt Tonight. (Photo Courtesy of Pitt Tonight)

By Lexi Kennell / Culture Editor

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New “Pitt Tonight” host Andrew Dow has big shoes to fill — but it shouldn’t be a problem considering he wears a size 13.

“Pitt Tonight,” a late-night student talk show taped on Pitt’s campus, is on its third season since its debut in 2015. Jesse Irwin, a senior majoring in political science and broadcast journalism, created the show and hosted the first two seasons, during which the show was nominated for two college Emmys.

Andrew Dow, a rising sophomore majoring in sociology, and his unruly mop of brown hair will begin hosting the show in the fall 2017 semester.

Before enrolling at Pitt, Dow attended Abington Senior High School in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Dow said he kept to himself and described his high school humor as “funny-ish.”

“I think I was just kind of like — people would probably say, ‘That’s the very oddly dressed, Quaker, gay kid who does theater,’ and I don’t think funny was ever anything I was associated with until I came to Pitt,” Dow said.

Dow said he was always interested in comedy, but that it wasn’t until he joined Ruckus — an improv troupe of Pitt students — that he viewed himself as a comedian or even funny at all.

“Comedy is weird for me because I’ve always loved it, but I never really thought I could do it,” Dow said.

Dow joined Ruckus in the beginning of the fall 2016 semester. Lizzie Kaniecki, a rising senior majoring in film and the president of Ruckus, said that Dow is known in the troupe for having the wildest and most unexpected jokes.

“He’s one of the most genuine, sweetest people I’ve ever met and he’s also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” Kaniecki said. “He’s so good at just committing to weirdness and just going with it — he comes up with the wackiest stuff to say.”

Pitt Tonight named Andrew Dow the next host of the late-night talk show. John Hamilton | Editor-in-chief

Annabelle Hanflig, a rising junior majoring in media and professional communications, is the incoming executive producer of “Pitt Tonight” and accepted the position after Hayley Ulmer, a rising senior majoring in theatre, stepped down.

“[Dow] has a very particular sense of humor that I’m still figuring out,” Hanflig said. “But every time I figure out another piece of it, I love him more and more for it. He’s just so interesting and different.”

When talking about his childhood, Dow said he has always been passionate when it comes to historical figures, specifically Catherine I of Russia and Peter the Great. Dow said that his fascination stems from the pair’s unending drive to make Russia better.

“I really have a strong love of Russian history — I really have no other interest in Russian history except for like those two people. If I could just take a whole class on them, I’d be thrilled,” Dow said. “Also, I just think it’s funny Catherine was German.”

Aside from his seemingly random love of Russian monarchs with Germanic descent, Dow said he is also obsessed with Bayard Rustin.

“[Rustin] is this amazing black gay Quaker civil rights leader who did all of this great work with AIDs research, anti-nuclear programs and organized the March on Washington,” Dow said. “I just kind of think he’s like the absolute best.”

But Dow’s first major interest was neither comedy nor history — it was fashion.

“My love of fashion came from ‘Project Runway’ when I was a kid with my parents — we didn’t have cable, but I remember my parents ordering the DVDs on Netflix and watching them together, and I used to sneak down at night and watch ahead of them,” Dow said.

Dow then became interested in the artistic side of fashion and listed Alexander McQueen as one of his favorite designers.

“[McQueen’s] shows weren’t about, ‘Look at all these pretty things,’ — they were shocking and emotive and were about making the audience feel something,” Dow said.

Dow’s own wardrobe consists of button-downs of various vibrant colors and patterns. Dow doesn’t find himself to be incredibly fashionable and even likened his style to being in some stage of Rumspringa — a term used in some Amish and Mennonite communities to describe the rite of passage adolescents encounter between the ages of 14 and 21 — because he wears a lot of plain, durable fabrics.

“In a way, fashion is one of the only forms of art we all have to participate in — you’re saying something to the world in how you dress, and even being a nudist is a fashion statement,” Dow said. “I feel like the way you present yourself impacts the way you see yourself.”

And Dow says a lot with this style — his long tousled locks, bright button-downs and jeans give him a very non-threatening look, despite his size.

“When I first met Andrew, well he’s a large person in stature — he’s such a great guy and so cuddly, like a big teddy bear,” Hanflig said. “So when he walked into the room, I was taken aback by his size.”

Irwin also referred to Dow as a “teddy bear,” alluding to both his build and personality. Dow’s friendly and warm demeanor were said by both Hanflig and Irwin to be contributing factors of why he was chosen to be the next host of “Pitt Tonight.”

Dow interviewed for the position in January with about 20 other candidates. According to Dow, waiting over spring break to find out if he got the job was agonizing.

“There was a whole rigorous process that we had to go through, and I was the last man standing at the end of it,” Dow said. “For me, it was stressful because I wanted it so badly — it meant the world for me to get.”

After performing a monologue from a late-night show, the candidates had to mock interview Hanflig using a few facts about her given to them beforehand.

Some of the candidates questioned her as if she was interviewing for a job, Hanflig said, and others conversed with her like any late-night host would. However, Dow was different — he moved the interview into a game-like structure.

“He just came in and ripped the format we gave him apart and made it his own. And that was something that I found — after a little bit of digestion and analysis — was just the most original interview we had,” Hanflig said. “It was the most engaging and endearing one.”

(Photo Courtesy of Pitt Tonight)

Irwin said that Dow is very natural on stage and that his subtlety is what set him apart from the rest — that Dow’s laid-back approach was more enjoyable than the overly confident candidates.

“He’s someone who never accepts the status quo — not because he was never satisfied with anything, but just because he always thinks that things can be better and different,” Hanflig said.

According to Dow, “Pitt Tonight” will go through a lot of changes between his season and the previous two hosted by Irwin.

“We’ll be trying something new with [the role of the sidekick]. I want to have a new person fill that role every episode. We’ll be having some very interesting guests to say the least,” Dow said.

During Irwin’s reign as host, Raghav Sharma, a recent graduate with a politics and philosophy major, acted as his sidekick. Dow plans on flipping the late night sidekick norm and have different sidekicks each episode.

“‘Pitt Tonight’ and Pitt [in general] have a ridiculous amount of hilarious and engaging people, so I want to highlight as many of them as possible,” Dow said.

Irwin is looking forward to some of the changes Dow’s season will be implementing, the sidekick rotation being one of them.

“He wants to be all-inclusive — he wants to get people involved. I think his recognition of how he can expand his role into something that has different characters and different personalities — I think it’s brilliant,” Irwin said. “I think it speaks to the purpose of the show.”

Irwin described himself as “vanilla” and that his character is an easy one to deviate from — that the show will be fine with some changes. Irwin said that it’s warming to see someone like Dow on stage because he’s so candid and down-to-earth.

“It’s almost like he was walking, and all of the sudden the spotlight went on him,” Irwin said.

In an effort to familiarize viewers with Dow as the new host, Irwin and Dow shot a Facebook live video April 5, in which they combined matzo and Quaker Oats in order to represent their religious heritages.

“I thought originally that we were going to be making something like Food Network, like matzo cookies or something kind of cute, but no — it ended up just being us throwing matzo and oats and mustard into a pan,” Dow said. “It was disgusting — it was one of the worst things that I’ve ever tasted, but it was a really fun experience.”

Irwin said he wishes he had gotten to work with Dow, but that he met him only when Dow came in to audition.

“We’re already saying we love each other — it’s like meeting a girl and then all of the sudden you’re dating like the next day,” Irwin said.

Dow listed Irwin as his top inspiration, besides comedians Seth Meyers and Paul F. Tompkins and British television presenter Graham Norton.

“I have very big shoes to fill, but I also have a wonderful group of people to help me,” Dow said. “I feel confident going into this based on all of the people I am surrounded with.”

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Meet new Pitt Tonight Host Andrew Dow