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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

New York based-comedian, social media sensation sells out seats at High Dive

Lucas Zelnick discussed sensitive controversial topics with a satirical-spin

Lucas Zelnic performing at High Dive on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.
Lucas Zelnic performing at High Dive on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

At 8 p.m. Friday night, Lucas Zelnick, a 28-year-old stand-up comedian from New York City, took the stage at the High Dive, aiming to deliver a memorable stand-up routine to a diverse audience.

The show was part of the first leg of Zelnick’s comedy show tour, having performed in Orlando just two nights before. Zelnick said he performs stand-up frequently, sometimes doing two shows in one night.

“I do over 365 shows a year,” Zelnick said. “I would say that I average definitely more than seven shows a week.”

Zelnick’s comedy content comes from a multitude of sources — some from real life experiences.

Friday, he recalled a night of trouble-making at Topgolf, for example.

“So I was aiming for it [the range picker], to hit it,” Zelnick said. “I aimed for it, and I hit it right in the window. The guy stopped the cart, and he was pissed.” 

Zelnick said experiences like this help him develop an overarching theme for his bits, with this one about being scolded by an adult as a 28-year-old man.

“I’ll collect… little moments that I think, ‘Oh, that’s an interesting idea to talk about,’” Zelnick said. “In the mornings… while I’m having coffee, [I’ll] go through that list, and pick some of those ideas to actually write out.”

In 2022, Zelnick earned a business administration master’s from Stanford University, an accomplishment he said he often forgoes discussing in his acts..

“What’s the point of having it?” he said. “Put it in my bio, I guess.”

Despite the side quest predating his comedy career, Zelnick said his knowledge of the business world helped launch him into popularity.

“I didn’t go to Stanford to become a comedian,” he said. “But, I became a comedian while I was at Stanford. Comedy, like any practice, is a business”

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 Zelnick said despite working in a challenging field of work, he has gained important insight into the entertainment industry.

“I knew that as long as I did my work every day, I would get better,” Zelnick said. “And getting better doesn’t always guarantee success.”

On Friday, Zelnick was opened by John Kennedy, a 24-year-old comedian also based out of New York, who intended to warm up the crowd with a series of witty quips. 

Kennedy went on and immediately started his routine, but not before a High Dive employee inexplicably brought him a stool halfway through a joke. He said this moment was the first complication he experienced on the tour.

“That’s what I’ve learned about [High Dive],” Kennedy said. “People will give you stools.”

Srikar Savaram, a 23-year-old UF alumnus, and Alexandra Stefanovia, a 22-year-old UF alumna, were among the crowd of people there to watch Kennedy and Zelnick.

“I had a great time,” Savaram said. “I thought he was really good [at] working with the crowd.”

Stefanovia said she discovered him through his social media presence; his Instagram and TikTok profiles total nearly one million followers combined.

“I saw him on TikTok for his crowd work, and he delivered,” Stefanovia said. “I feel like he makes every crowd feel very special.”

According to some, as the show date neared at High Dive, tickets became increasingly hard to secure.

Mack Levenrock, a 19-year-old audience member, said he initially intended to give a ticket to a friend, but quickly changed his mind after seeing his chances of getting a seat.

“It was $54 just to be put on the waitlist, which was crazy,” Levenrock said. “I [thought], ‘okay, nevermind. I’m going alone. I don’t care.’”

Following the show’s end, Zelnick and Kennedy held a small meet-and-greet at their merch table. 

The two sold t-shirts printed with the text, “America is Horses,” which Zelnick said is a reference to a drawing his sister, who has a congenital disorder, once made.

In his set, Zelnick said he disapproves of the phrase, citing it as derogatory to his sister. He then followed by saying none of the proceeds go to her, evoking a rapturous mix of applause, laughter and boos.

After a brief pause, he clarified proceeds will go to charity.

Zelnick will complete the Florida schedule of his national tour in Tampa Sunday.

Contact Benjamin Miller at Follow him on X @men_mbiller.

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