Presidential Debate Gives Stand-Up Comedians Choice Joke Material

Three NYC comedians used first Obama-Romney face-off to bring young voters together in a lighthearted setting.

NEW YORK — Shortly after Mitt Romney’s Big Bird comment during Wednesday’s presidential debate, 17,000 tweets per minute were devoted to the Sesame Street character. For many social media users, it was the humorous moments that sparked them to chime in during the first of three presidential debates.

But Twitter wasn’t the only place that brought some light to the argument. In New York City, about 50 people came out to the Stand Restaurant and Comedy Club to get some comedic relief from Yannis Pappas, Nate Bargatze and Dave Smith while watching the debate.

Pappas and Bargatze are no strangers to political comedy, and with their respective backgrounds they make a good duo. Yannis is a liberal from New York City, while Nate is a conservative from the South. In 2004, the two did a college tour where they hoped to get young voters excited about voting.

“It’s a good and easy time for younger people to be informed because of the Internet,” Yannis told MTV News after the debate. “We try to make the debate entertaining by cracking some jokes and getting people galvanized. We only did it for the room downstairs but it should happen more often, when you hear debates with a comedic slant just to get people excited, because it does affect you.”

Smith contributed with harder facts, calling out the candidates for comments that may be contradictory to what he’s already heard in their campaigning. For him, the night was the very essence of what brought him to comedy, pointing to men like Bill Maher and George Carlin as inspiration. “You can kind of spark something with a joke that will kind of stay with someone and they’re like, ‘I wanna check that out more,’ ” he said. “Laughter is a good way to bring an interesting perspective.”

The event brought some audience members who may have otherwise not watched the debate. For Rebecca Somers, a 22-year-old senior at Baruch College, this was her first time watching a presidential debate. “I don’t know if I would have watched the debate if I didn’t come here, I’d probably go to the gym or something, and when I heard about this and the commentary I was more interested in the jokes,” the first-time voter said. “But as I was watching it I started to get really into it and it made me want to get more informed.”

At one point during the evening, the comedians encouraged participation when audience members chimed in over immigration and taxes. One guest, Beryl Teitelbaum, stood up in frustration over the fact that candidates seemed to fluctuate their facts, which sparked some back-and-forth jokes.

Who said what? MTV’s Power of 12 and FlackCheck.org teamed up to keep the candidates honest.

When MTV News caught up with the 24-year old Hunter College student after the show, he expressed his frustration.

“I thought Ryan had straight up said ‘we’re cutting Medicare’ and then Romney tonight said ‘we’re not cutting Medicare, we have no plans of doing that to anyone who’s retired or near retired,’ ” he said. “One of them says, ‘You said this,’ and the other one said, ‘I never said that.’ ”

Ultimately, Teitelbaum came out to hear some comedy and bring some light to the election where he still remains undecided in his vote.

“I think it’s phenomenal,” he said. “Comedy is and has always been an avenue to relieve the stress a little bit and get perspective. Some of the most influential people in our day are comedians talking about politics on TV. Lots of people get their information from there. It’s important and it always has been.”

Stick with MTV’s Power of 12 throughout the 2012 election season.