Alums who do cool things: Stand-up comedian Max Silvestri ’05

One of Max Silvestri‘s ’05 funniest stand-up bits involves him watching a very old man moving through a crowded bar to ask the bartender for five nickels in exchange for a quarter. Silvestri is a seasoned stand-up comedian, opening for SNL writer John Mulaney and hosting “Big Terrific,” a weekly comedy show in Brooklyn. Silvestri was recently published in GQ’s January issue, and he will be co-hosting a show on A&E’s new channel, FYI, called The Feed, which is described in a press release as “part road show, part buddy comedy, part talk show.” Silvestri sat down with BlogDH to talk about his time at Brown, his stand-up, and being part of the comedy community.

BlogDH: What year did you graduate, and what did you concentrate in?

Max Silvestri: I graduated in 2005. I majored in Art: Semiotics, which I think somebody told me isn’t technically a major anymore. It was interdisciplinary between modern culture and media and visual arts. I just took it so I could take lots of video production classes. I wasn’t a big theory head or a big visual arts guy. I just liked shooting videos.

BlogDH: Were you involved in the comedy scene while you were here? Did you do Brown Stand Up?

MS: I wasn’t really involved with Brown Stand Up. As soon as I got to school, I knew I wanted to do a lot of comedy, so I got into IMPROVidence immediately. I got into a sketch group, which at the time was called “Beasts of Funny.” It doesn’t exist anymore. I also got involved with the Brown JUG.

At the time, IMPROVidence was a really big deal on campus, and it was for four years. We had shows every week and always at capacity. I met some of the best friends of my life through IMPROVidence who were very important to me in starting comedy.

I ended up starting to do stand-up, but I did it in Boston like at clubs. I never did it really with a group on campus. I did a couple of shows on campus in the Underground with a bunch of comics that I knew from Boston and a Brown alum, like Jordan Carlos.

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Wyclef’s charity fights allegations of questionable spending

Yele Haiti — a charity run by former Africana Studies visiting fellow and hip hop artist Wyclef Jean — spent less than a third of its $16 million revenue on emergency relief efforts in 2010, according to a report published by the New York Post on Sunday.

In addition to spending millions on various dubious contracts, Jean’s charity also paid $1 million to Amisphere Farm Labor Inc., a Florida-based firm that “doesn’t seem to exist.”

After the Haiti earthquake struck on January 12, 2010, Jean asked his twitter followers for $5 donations, which immediately came pouring in. Prior to the earthquake, the charity had been especially cash strapped, reporting a $244,000 net loss in 2009.

These allegations mark the second time that Jean’s charity has come under serious media scrutiny for its use of donations. Four years ago, Yele Haiti spent  $250,000 on a Haitian television station jointly owned by Jean and his cousin, Jerry Duplessis. This expense was then publicized in a 2010 report by the New York Post that first criticized Yele Haiti for its spending practices. Continue Reading

This week in Brown Alumni News: Scandal Edition

It’s been a rough news week for a few choice Brown alums. We’re barely past hump day, and we’ve already got two unfortunate (but still juicy) scandals to report:

Alums Who Do Not-So-Cool Things
It’s over, ladies and gentlemen — Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno ’50 was fired Wednesday night in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal that went public earlier this month. For you Ashton Kutchers who are out of the loop on this one, Paterno reportedly turned a blind eye to former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s repeated sexual molestation of young boys in the Penn State football facilities.

Alums Who Report Not-So-Cool Things
This week’s other unfortunate Brown-related scandal saw an alum on the reverse side of things. In an update on the Herman Cain sexual harassment case, Karen Kraushaar ’78 was identified as one of the women with whom Cain settled. Despite having paid the settlement, Cain still maintains that none of this went down. Cain allegedly harassed, Rick Perry stumbled  and Mitt Romney shattered … it’s looking like a good year for Ron Paul!