Marcello Hernandez picks Brian out of the crowd. “What’s your favorite song at parties?” Brian yells from the audience. Hernandez pauses for a split-second and smiles — he knows this joke will kill. “You know what that question really means? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ‘MR. BRIGHTSIDE?’”
The sly quip causes raucous laughter among the 2,000 5C students in attendance.
Brian doesn’t really exist. When Ben Cerbin PO ’26 shouted out his name, Hernandez misheard. The minutiae are hardly of concern when both parties work so well together to get a laugh. That simple interaction summarized the night perfectly. Marcello Hernandez gave the crowd what they wanted to hear. He fed off the energy in Big Bridges Auditorium, synthesizing laughs into uproar.
On Feb. 10, Pomona College Events Committee hosted “College Comedy Night” featuring Marcello Hernandez. Hernandez has recently joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL) for its 48th season. Prior to joining SNL, he handed out fliers for the show outside of 30 Rock while pursuing comedy. At 25, the stand-up comic has already positioned himself to be a leading figure in comedy for years to come.
The first news of the event spread after the ASPC sent out an email on Jan. 26. Pomona students were given early access and free tickets, after which the rest of the 5C community was given the opportunity to purchase seats. Fliers were stapled to buildings, and Instagram stories were shared and reposted. The hype was real.
Doors opened at 7 p.m. and the show began a few minutes past 8. Hernandez’s omnipotent voice greeted the buzzing crowd and introduced Ali Kolbert, one of two opening acts, to the stage. Kolbert is a stand-up comic and podcaster based in New York City.
Kolbert immediately set the tone of the night, shooting off a lighthearted barrage of insults against liberal arts colleges, men and bottoms. Her deadpan delivery along with her provocative set about being a lesbian and modern dating established the mood for the night. The crowd was a tad quiet but would erupt during especially clever or referential jokes.
Kolbert then introduced Lili Michelle, the second opening act. The Iranian-Canadian comedian narrated a satirical account of her upbringing, incest and 9/11. Michelle’s personal stories and warm stage presence provided a much-needed interregnum between Kolbert and Hernandez’s jumpier comedic personas.
“It was fun to find something relatable in each of the sets because the comedians incorporated their own experience into the performance. The energy was so dynamic between the audience and the performer.”
Marcello Hernandez sauntered on stage to roaring applause. The 5-foot-8-inch Miami kid could fit right into the 5C community. At only 25, Hernandez graduated from John Carole University in Cleveland — a city he proceeded to make fun of — just four years ago.
Hernandez incorporated slang and internet jargon into his stand-up, engaging with a younger crowd in a way older comics would struggle to. In one of his bits, he explained how at 11, he understood technology better than both of his parents, declaring himself “the leader of his house.”
Hernandez’s comedy was very accent-heavy. It’s no wonder he was cast on SNL, where he is required to undertake multiple celebrity impressions per episode. Oftentimes, he would slip into his Cuban and Dominican parents’ accents when telling a joke.
Hernandez also incorporated acting into his stand-up. Rather than telling a story, he inhabited the characters he was speaking about, often opting to use a pose or facial expression as the punchline rather than the words themselves.
“White peoples’s worst fear is to be awkward,” Hernandez explained in one of his stand-out bits. He expanded that simple absurd proclamation into stories about airline pilots, party music and hotel plumbing. He skillfully observed the cultural differences in the communities that he grew up around.
Hernandez’s set lasted around 45 minutes, after which he thanked the crowd, took a selfie and dipped behind the curtain.
The crowd flooded outside Big Bridges to Marston Quad. Reenactments, praise and criticism could be heard as people headed out for the night.
“It was fun to find something relatable in each of the sets because the comedians incorporated their own experience into the performance,” Kayla Park PO ’26 said. “The energy was so dynamic between the audience and the performer.”