Sasheer Zamata, Joel Kim Booster & Nate Jones Give Insight to their Jobs in Hollywood at Vulture’s Comedians vs. Critics Debate 2019

On February 21st, Her Campus at UCLA had the amazing privilege to attend Vulture’s first ever Comedians vs. Critics debate! We were able to watch a heated, but hilarious, battle between Vulture writers and well-renowned comedians about the upcoming 91st Academy Awards.

This fun-filled night, hosted by SNL host Sasheer Zamata, consisted of fleshed-out arguments, between Vulture critics Hunter Harris, Nate Jones and Emily Yoshida, along with comedians Demi Adejuyigbe—writer for The Late Late Show and The Good Place, Joel Kim Booster—stand-up comedian on Comedy Central and a writer for Big Mouth, and Jamie Loftus, known for her Comedy Central web series Irrational Fears. The event was hosted on the rooftop of the Neuehouse in Hollywood, which was adorably decorated and filled with lush greenery and sparkly lights to create a cozy, ethereal-like space. They even gave everyone little bags of popcorn and free drinks, which was a definite plus.

The event began with a small red carpet event, where we had the opportunity to speak to a few of the stars. We first interviewed Joel Kim Booster. He gave us his take on advice for college students: “Take your time. Remember that no one should be expected to know everything from 18 to 22. You don’t know all the things you don’t know yet, and I wish that someone would give me the advice of ‘If you are feeling unsure, slow down.' You don’t have to make all of your decisions now. There’s so much time for you to make mistakes and evaluate the decisions you are about to make.”

Joel also gave invaluable advice for those aspiring comedians out there: “The main piece of advice that I would give to someone who wants to be a comedian is to find people that make you laugh and that you make laugh, and surround yourself with those people and cultivate an audience with them. Whether it’s stand-up or sketch… these people will be important for [your] development as a support system and to help [you] develop your own voice. As I’ve grown and started to make [comedy] my living, I have had to adjust and figure out how I can make what is specific about me broadly appealing. But I could only do that when I knew what my voice was and I know my brand. Don’t try to reverse engineer that. Start small, and then build that out.”

We also talked to Sasheer Zamata and Nate Jones. As a popular host for SNL, Sasheer shared with us some of her tactics for facilitating an engaging show tonight: “I am going to wrangle people, but I’m also going to let them be as rowdy as they want. It is a debate, so we want to see them get nasty.” Nate, as a debater for the night, gave us insight into his tactics for predicting Oscar winners this season: “What I have that other people don’t is that I’ve been talking to voters and strategists, which gives you a different perspective on it than when your just a person with a laptop—which is the person I was up until 6 months ago. People love to talk about what they love and really like talking about what they hate, I’ve absorbed lessons of who hates what movies in Hollywood, and hopefully I can use that my advantage.”

After getting some great advice and hearing some of the debaters’ strategies for the night, the debate finally started! Each team sent up a representative to the podium for each topic. Each team was given time to present an initial argument, a rebuttal and a closing statement. If any debater went over their time, they would play the Phantom Thread music score to cut them off. The audience was even encouraged to participate in trivia questions and got a Roma-tomato if they guessed correctly. Here's a quick recap: 

Vulture's Wins: 

  • Who Should've Hosted?: Lin Manuel Miranda
  • Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali—Greenbook
  • Best Actor: Bradley Cooper—A Star Is Born
  • Best Film: A Star Is Born

Comedian's Wins: 

  • Best Supporting Actress: Marina de Tavira—Roma
  • Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón—Roma 
  • Deserted Island: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Last Person to be Shown In Memoriam: Carol Channing
  • Best Actress: Melissa McCarthy
  • Who Won Oscar Season?: Cinematographers

In debating ‘Best Supporting Actress’, Hunter said that Regina King should win for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk because of her gorgeous “toned arms.” Joel believed the title belonged to Marina de Tavira in Roma because she is a “Mexican Toni Collette.” Through her laughter, Sasheer decided that the winner of this round went to the comics. As they went on debating the next few categories, Demi won for the comics in ‘Best Director’ arguing for Alfonso Cuarón. Nate Jones took the crown for ‘Who Should’ve Hosted?’ with his keen observation that Lin Manuel Miranda, in all his rhyming glory, would be a better host than the Muppets, despite the diversity and entertainment Demi claimed they would offer. Comedy won everyone over when Jamie mentioned that if she was deserted on a desert island, she would rather take Bohemian Rhapsody so that she could eat it.

Vulture critics proved that their merit could prevail in the categories of actor-related categories when Nate Jones pointed out that Mahershala Ali was able to act like Green Book was a good movie and when Hunter stated that the best actor award belongs to Bradley Cooper based on his attractive masculinity alone.

The best part of the show? The epic singing battle between Joel Kim Booster and Emily Yoshida. Who do you think sang A Star Is Born’s most iconic song “Shallow” better?

The final round ended in a tie after Demi lost major points for bashing on “Shallow." But the comedians eventually won the battle after closing statements. As winning prizes, they received a plush star with a diaper on (a star that was born), and a literal green book: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess.

We had an absolute blast at the Vulture’s Comedians vs. Critics 2019 debate, and we look forward to more laughter, heated arguments and fun times next year!