Comedian cracks jokes with students


Grace Wiley

Joe Keefe (left), an adjunct in the Cinema Art + Science Department, interviews Dan Bakkedahl (right). Bakkedahl spoke to students Feb. 24 about life on the road with “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

By Assistant Campus Editor

Dan Bakkedahl strolled into a crowded studio on the 15th floor of the Alexandroff Campus Center, 600 S. Michigan Ave., ready to crack dark jokes about his many  life choices.

He spoke to Columbia students Feb. 24 about his struggles as a rising comedian and actor. Bakkedhal is known for his role as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” from 2005–2007 and has recently appeared on TV shows such as “Veep” and “Legit,” and as the dentist in the 2013 cop comedy “The Heat.” 

 After Bakkedahl, 44, graduated from Florida State University in 2001, he decided to pursue comedy in Chicago. Joe Keefe, adjunct professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department, said he trained Bakkedahl during his time as a director and executive producer at Second City. Bakkedahl made a stop to do an interview at Columbia because he was scheduled to perform at Second City later that night, Keefe said. 

Bakkedahl gave students advice about the television industry during the hour-long Q-and-A interview with students. 

“People like Bakkedahl are such a good example for television production [students] because he’s been through the path students are just starting right now,” Keefe said. “Bakkedahl has done a little bit of everything in the television world, and his experience adds up to a huge amount for students.”

Students asked Bakkedahl what his daily schedule is like and why he left “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” in 2007. Bakkedahl said his schedule at the show was sporadic and he would not be busy for an entire week but would suddenly have to travel to different countries out of the blue to report. 

The show required a lot of his time, and he said he left because he did not feel he could express his humor there.

“If you’re sitting at a place and saying, ‘I can’t do this,’ you’ve never been more right,” Bakkedahl said. “That’s when you’ll have to leave.”

During Keefe’s speed question round, he asked questions such as “Boxers or briefs?” and “Who’s your inspiration?” Although the speed question points Bakkedahl gained were not announced, his answers were swift and witty. 

Michael Niederman, chair of the Television Department, said the college has been hosting well-known television and film actors since before he came to Columbia 30 years ago.

“It’s come in various packages and various shapes and sizes, but we’ve been doing it for forever,” Niederman said.

Keefe said the department is always looking to expand and invite more guests to speak to students.

Nicole Hoffman, internship coordinator for the Television Department, oversaw production for the interview, which is scheduled for broadcast on Frequency TV, Columbia’s student-run TV channel, in the future.

“We will probably broadcast Bakkedahl’s interview [on Frequency TV] in small chunks,” Hoffman said. “It gives students more practice behind the cameras.”

Christy LeMaster, student activities coordinator in the Cinema Art + Science Department and adjunct faculty member in the Interactive Arts & Media Department, endeavored to make sure the conversations run smoothly.

LeMaster said there are more interviews to come, including a March 12 conversation at the Alexandroff Campus Center with Ira David Levy, executive producer and host of “Pedal America,” a TV series that encourages and inspires viewers to bike.