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Last comic standing falls hard

Comedian's material outrages many, but Trevino offers different story

By Jessica May
On August 30, 2007

Steve Trevino, a comedian hired to entertain students during New Student Orientation, was forced by administrators to end his act early due to inappropriate and offensive material that left many in attendance

shocked and outraged.

Sue Ciccone, director of New Student Orientation, became alarmed by the situation only

minutes into the performance and began consulting fellow staff members immediately regarding a course of

action.

In the end, Ciccone handed Trevino a note asking him to stop his act.

"His langauge, in my opinion, was vulgar," Ciccone said. "I found [his material] very offensive."

While the Orientation staff claims the comedian had only performed 15 minutes of his hour-and-a-half show, Trevino was quoted in a Tuesday night blog posting on his MySpace homepage titled "Villanofun," saying that he found this claim "entertaining" and that he had actually been performing for 35-40 minutes.

While many students left the performance early, there was also a report that many students began 'booing' the administration's decision.

Ciccone addressed the remainder of the crowd after the comedian had left the stage, saying, "This is not what Villanova's about."

Trevino didn't seem to share the same feelings as Ciccone, writing, "It's crazy that [Villanovans] don't do racial humor. Who did I offend?"

John Powell, a sophomore liberal arts student, believed that the performance crossed the line.

"Though I have always felt that a person should have the freedom to say what they want and what's on their mind, this was not the appropriate time to do so," Powell said.  "This is Orientation."

Several members of Public Safety that escorted Trevino from the Pavillion were also reportedly speaking with the comedian about the weekly assistance they have to provide to intoxicated Villanova students in order to describe "what really happens on the campus," according to Trevino's MySpace.

Although these reports have not been confirmed, Trevino commented that he felt Villanova students are old enough to make their own decisions and listen to whatever suits their comfort level.

"I just feel like these kids are adults and they don't need someone to filter thoughts, ideas or jokes for them," Trevino said. "Mom and Dad aren't at college; they don't need to be."

While this problem might appear to have been preventable, the Orientation staff felt that it went to great lengths to keep this very problem from occurring.

"We did screen him before by watching tapes of his performance to make sure his material

was appropriate," Ciccone said.

Although some of Trevino's jokes may have gone too far at certain points, the comedian believed that he wasn't the only one to blame for the unexpected turn of the show.

"I don't like doing clean humor, but I'll do it," the comedian said in a recent phone interview with The Villanovan. "My live act in a comedy club doesn't include any of the jokes I perform on college campuses. I design my show especially for them."

Trevino claimed that after he was pulled off stage, he confronted the staff member who had given him the "okay" for the material, who then openly admitted in front of administration that the jokes and language had been cleared in a previous discussion.

According to Ciccone, an addendum was added to Trevino's performance contract signed prior to the event to remind

him that he was entertaining a "PG-13" crowd, and that inappropriate material was to be specifically prohibited

from being integrated into the act. 

The comedian was also reminded of the University's Catholic,

Augustinian beliefs in order to ensure that his content would be tasteful and in accordance with the positive message of Orientation.

Again, Trevino's version differed from the administration's with his claim that he never spoke to an administrative official during the signing of the contract. While he did agree to "keep it clean," the specific content of the show was never questioned.

In fact, the only direct contact he claimed to have with Villanova prior to his appearance was with "two student leaders."

Trevino also said he double-checked with the staff before entering the stage, citing that several curse words were approved for his "PG-18" crowd.

"Before I went on stage, I asked again which words I could use ... and I was told those words weren't a problem," Trevino said. "Those words did come out of my mouth, and in that sense, I am to blame, but I'm not completely to blame."

So, who is?

Many wonder how a comedian such as Steve Trevino, who has written material for adult comedy shows such as 'The Mind of Mencia' could have passed a screening by Orientation staff members if their goal was to produce a truly "clean" comedic act.

However, Trevino's show was, in his opinion, a watered-down version of his routine club comedy acts.

Trevino felt he was treated unfairly by Villanova and other media outlets in the Philadelphia area who never contacted him for his side of the story.

"I really felt abandoned by the school," Trevino said. "I really felt like the school left me hanging and pointed the finger at me, like they are trying to get out of a bind or something."

Trevino also criticized a local ABC affiliate, Action 6 News, who covered the story during the evening news on Aug. 27.

"I wish the local news station would have contacted me and asked for my side before they aired a one-sided news broadcast," Trevino said.

However, Trevino did show some remorse as his MySpace posting offered an apology to students who were offended by the act.

"To those students I offended, that was never my intention," Trevino said. "For those students who came up to me as I was being escorted out and said they enjoyed the show, thank you.

"I would have never gone to school like Villanova that filters a comedy act," he added.

Since the student leader allegedly responsible for selecting the comedian could not be reached to comment on this matter, it is still unsure who, if anyone on the Orientation staff is to blame.

However, Ciccone said in an e-mail that she spoke with Trevino's agent numerous times before the contract was finalized and the comedian took the stage.

Within the first three minutes of Trevino's performance, his material had already included several profane words and jokes targeted at a variety of racial groups.

One of the first sets of his jokes began with, "I'm going to do some black jokes now, so you guys had better laugh."

Trevino admitted that there were several times that he came close to breaching his contract, but that he caught himself and tried to "back up" after he realized the situation.

University officials went to great lengths after the incident in order to remedy the damage that they believed had been done.

University President Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., commended the staff's response to the incident, sayng that while the events were unfavorable, the quick decision to remove Trevino was correct.

"The Orientation committee worked hard to make sure that the new students would have a wonderful four-day experience.  It is unfortunate the comedian did not follow their directives," Donohue said.  "However, I was happy to hear how the staff responded and that they had the wisdom to end the performance before more hurtful language was delivered under the guise of comedy."

In order to further address the situation, a mass e-mail was sent to the freshmen class on Friday

night, apologizing for the incident.

It stated: "The message you heard tonight was not consistent with our Orientation program, Villanova's mission or our Augustinian tradition. It was not a part of who we are or what we stand for, nor does the comedian represent Villanova in any way."

The Office for Residence Life also sent out notifications alerting RAs of the

situation in order to aid them in assisting students who may have been disturbed or upset by the content of the show.

In addition to the e-mails, the Orientation staff immediately informed Diversity Peer

Counselors so the issue would be addressed during the diversity presentations and discussion groups on Saturday and Sunday.


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