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Comedy troupe Purity Pact brings viral YouTube star Chris Fleming to satirize gender, liberal arts

March 4, 2017

Comedian and internet superstar Chris Fleming, known for his viral YouTube series “GAYLE,” will perform stand up this Saturday night in Kresge Auditorium. Fleming is expected to poke at notions of gender and liberal arts colleges in his routine. The event, funded by Student Activities, Reed House and all-female comedy troupe Purity Pact, is free with no reserved seating.

“GAYLE,” which has been viewed over a million times on YouTube, was created by Fleming and friend Melissa Styles. It focuses on the life of Gayle Waters-Waters, the archetype of a competitive, stay-at-home mom in suburbia.

Though the show has a narrative that links the videos together, each five to 10 minute episode contains a new adventure for Gayle. Among other oddities, she hoards couscous, imprisons SAT tutors and vacuums her driveway. She makes Christmas cards, storms in on town meetings and even tours colleges with her daughter, Terry. (Bowdoin is mentioned several times in the web series).

“GAYLE” is currently in its fourth season with plans for future seasons underway. Fleming and Styles have also developed a “GAYLE LIVE” show that plays to sold-out audiences across the country.

Callye Bolster ’19, a member of Improvabilities and the founder of the new all-female comedy group Purity Pact, reached out to Fleming to bring him to campus. Bolster, who has been a fan of Fleming’s for months, personally invited Fleming to campus through his Facebook page.

“I reached out to him first on his email, and he didn’t respond,” said Bolster. “Then I went to his official Facebook page and messaged that with a way over-eager message. I told him the background of our group and why we wanted to bring him. I was like, ‘I’m drowning in a coleslaw of emotions just writing this.’ But he answered.”

Bolster has high hopes for Fleming’s performance and believes it will reflect the central ideas of her new group Purity Pact.

“I want people to be able to laugh at themselves and a large part of the culture of our school,” said Bolster. “I feel like we’ve been talking about the extraordinary percentages of our school and the one percent, and we have discussions about gender, but this is a really fun way to approach those things that are already hot topics.”

Like Bolster, many Bowdoin students already know Fleming’s work and are excited for his performance. Katie Craighill ’17 has been a fan of Fleming for years and even attended his “GAYLE” LIVE show in Portland two years ago, where she got the chance to meet Fleming.

“Meeting [Fleming] was fabulous,” said Craighill. “He was very friendly. He came right into the audience and he even used my coat as a prop during the show. I asked if I could take a picture with him after the show where he was wearing my coat and he was really excited about it.”

This weekend, though, Craghill will be watching to see how Fleming has updated his routine.

“I’m excited to see what he has come up with since the “GAYLE” performance that I saw two years ago,” said Craighill. “I don’t think this show will be as “GAYLE”-oriented—I imagine it will be rants and stand up—but I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s new from him.”

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