“Nailed it” host Nicole Byer performs at Pitt


Hannah Heisler | Staff Photographer

Actress and comedian Nicole Byer jokes about the size of Steve Harvey’s teeth to an audience of 300 people during her stand-up performance in the WPU Assembly Room Thursday evening.

By Maggie Young, Staff Writer

After being on Steve Harvey’s show, Nicole Byer can confirm that his teeth are as big in real life as they look on screen.

More than 300 people came to the WPU Assembly Room to see a stand-up performance by actress and writer Nicole Byer sponsored by the Pitt Program Council. Her routine utilized honest and funny anecdotes to discuss heavier topics such as race and body image, while also sharing her experiences traveling and working in retail.

Byer can be seen on MTV’sGirl Code,” her Netflix amateur baking show “Nailed It” and a recent episode of “The Good Place.”

“Three people have to serve me poison,” Byer said when asked about the Netflix series. “I’ve never eaten anything good on the show.”

By winning the December 2018 Pitt Program Council event “So You Think You’re Funny,” junior Kathryn Human earned the chance to open for Byer with a comedy routine of her own. Human, a natural sciences major, discussed the toilets in Hillman Library and what it was like growing up biracial.

“My mom, who’s white, got me a book on Rosa Parks,” Human said. “[I asked her] can we please take the bus? That was the first time I realized I was biracial.”

Human transitioned by asking the audience if they had ever been to Hillman Library and mentioned the new renovations.

“The one thing they forgot to renovate were the bathrooms,” Human said, adding that one of the toilets is often covered with a trash bag, and the toilet paper is difficult to use.

After hearing Human’s story, Byer continued to play off of the college-themed humor.

“I don’t know how much tuition is, but y’all are paying too much,” Byer said.

She then went into the details of the traveling involved with her comedy tour.

“I usually call [Pennsylvania] a rectangle of trash, but I won’t do it because I’m here,” Byer said. Her distaste for other states such as Iowa and Ohio continued throughout her set.

Later in the evening, she told the audience how she found poop in her blanket while on a Delta Airlines flight.

Between stories of traveling misadventures and failed Tinder matches, Byer created an environment where she could explain in detail how she continues to see herself in a positive light, with emphasis on her body image and race.

Byer said she’s confident as a single woman, and that being overweight doesn’t give her a reason to be upset.

“So I’m a fat lady — and I just want you guys to know that I know that you [know]. Being fat and beautiful aren’t mutually exclusive. You can be fat and beautiful, or be skinny and look like Kellyanne Conway,” Byer said.

She complemented these feelings with stories of her experience working at Lane Bryant, a retail store for plus-size clothing. Byer said it was a place for people who were “living their best life.”

Students appreciated her honesty, which they showed with claps and cheers. Junior psychology major Christina Toval was impressed with the way Byer executed these feelings, and the way she got to the point while still being funny.

“As a bigger woman, I always like hearing fat jokes, because I’m like ‘it’s cool, it’s funny,’ fat jokes can be funny,” Toval said. “But I know for some people it’s hurtful, so it’s always cool to see when it’s not hurtful and it’s done in a tasteful way.”

Byer was not afraid to continue with topics she said people are often afraid to discuss. On one such traveling misadventure, Byer met two drunk women who she said acted as though this was the first time they talked to a black woman. They asked her to tell a joke and later asked to touch Byer’s hair.

“I don’t wanna touch a white lady’s hair — I know what string feels like,” Byer said. “Just kidding, I have lots of white friends.”

During the Q&A session that followed Byer’s routine, an audience member asked Byer how she navigates white spaces as a black woman.

“I’m a very loud person,” Byer said. “I am very direct, and if someone makes me uncomfortable I let them know. I don’t have to explain anything to you. You can’t worry about coming off as an angry black woman, we have so many reasons to be angry.”

Olivia Tom, a junior biology major, originally came to hear Human, a close friend of hers. Tom enjoyed both performances, and appreciated the way they made difficult topics a regular conversation.

“On the topic of race, I don’t think [either comedian] said anything profound. I think [Human and Byer] said everything that everybody already knows, and I think it’s just great to just say it again. People are so uncomfortable with it, and it just normalizes it,” Tom said.

The audience was impressed with how she used her comedic skill to talk about anything — even topics which made the audience quiet. One such audience member was Adam Dumas, a junior studying English literature.

“I pay a lot of attention to the craft of comedy. I was really in awe of the way she would stretch out a joke just as long as it would go, repeat something the exact right number of times [so that] the laughs got louder every time,” Dumas said.

Byer finished the stand-up routine by telling the story of what she called her “rock bottom.” After getting drunk on a four-hour red-eye flight, Byer ended up eating Shake Shack while on the toilet in JFK International Airport, crying at her current state and singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” to make herself feel better.

“The moral of that story is — there isn’t one,” Byer said. “I’m a mess!”