Daniel Franzese doesn’t even go here

SOFIA LEGASPI, Campus Life Editor

The third time really was the charm for Daniel Franzese as his “Yass, You’re Amazing” comedy tour made its long-awaited stop at UNI.

Best known for starring as Damian Leigh in the 2004 cult classic film “Mean Girls,” Franzese had previously been scheduled to visit UNI in January, then in February. Both times were postponed due to severe winter conditions.

The weather finally cooperated on Wednesday, April 10. After a short opening act by comedian David Burdge, Franzese walked on stage in the Maucker Union Ballroom greeted by cheers from the audience. His stand-up routine included stories about his life with Italian parents, his fears about animals with STDs and getting frozen in an embarrassing pose during a volcanic eruption.

Franzese ended the evening with a question-and-answer session open to the audience. Queries ranged from lighter questions like “Is ketchup a jelly?” to several questions about his “Mean Girls” experiences.

One student asked Franzese what it felt like to be a reaction meme. Damian’s shady call that “She doesn’t even go here!” is one of the many popular lines from the “Mean Girls” script.

“I love it; I think it’s so funny. Like, all I ever wanted to be when I was 12 was relevant,” Franzese said, eliciting laughter from the audience.

“I always meme myself,” he continued. “If you try to have a meme battle with me, eventually I send you memes of myself and I win.”

Franzese struck a more serious note when a student asked him about the personal significance of being a part of such a popular film. He told the story of an impactful fan letter he received years ago, one that encouraged him to come out as gay and one that made him realize the significance of the character of Damian.

“He was like, ‘Thank you for giving me something in the media that I could identify with proudly,’” Franzese recalled. “And I realized how impactful Damian was because he was the first queer character — and especially the first queer character of size — to be in a movie where his head wasn’t flushed down the toilet, and he wasn’t shoved in a locker, and he wasn’t called the F-word and all these other things. And he got to live without fear and how impactful that was for so many people of color, of size, of different abilities, of everything to see somebody who was different survive.”

“And so now I lean into it and I celebrate it because I know how much it means to my people,” Franzese concluded, with the audience applauding.

One of the last questions of the evening addressed Franzese’s favorite “Mean Girls” scene to film: singing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” during the Winter Talent Show.

“People don’t realize that when I was singing it, the only person in the audience was my mom,” he said. “And it was really fun to perform for her.”

When another student requested he reenact the scene, Franzese answered, “Only to you; come up here.”

Franzese also called up the first student who had asked about his favorite scene, and the trio sang together.

After inducting the audience into the “House of Glen Coco,” Franzese concluded his performance.

Following the show, audience members were able to get autographs and take photos with Franzese and Burdge during a free meet-and-greet. “Mean Girls”-themed refreshments including pink lemonade and Kalteen Bars were provided.

The “Yass You’re Amazing” comedy tour’s stop at UNI was sponsored by the UNI Campus Activities Board.