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Sean Evans’ ‘In The Hot Seat’ Spices Up Alumni Hall

“Hot Ones” host Sean Evans and Penn State alum and comedian Jared Freid came to Happy Valley on Thursday evening for a live “Hot Ones”-esque interview.

Evans hosts the widely popular YouTube show, “Hot Ones,” in which he feeds a celebrity increasingly hot chicken wings and accompanies it with a hard-hitting question. Evans is consistently praised for his well-researched and thoughtful interview questions.

Freid is a Penn State alumnus and comedian. He’s done stand-up around the country and recently released a Netflix special titled “Jared Freid: 37 and Single.” Freid also hosts the JTrain Podcast.

Freid entered Alumni Hall decked out in Penn State gear from head to toe and led the crowd in a “We Are” chant while Evans looked on.

The stage was set with 10 wings, 10 sauces, and a gallon of milk. Freid and Evans dove into the first sauce, called Red Chili Maple, while Evans asked Freid what the hardest class he took at Penn State was.

“There were classes here?” Freid quipped.

He explained he was an economics major since that was the only degree in which you could be in the Smeal College of Business without a 3.0 GPA at the time. Ultimately, though, he decided that any math class was difficult — especially when letters and words got involved.

In the same vein, Evans asked about any campus traditions that Freid missed since he graduated back in 2007. Freid explained the concept of State Patty’s to Evans, which earned a cheer from the audience.

“That’s, to me, the funniest memory. The idea that we can’t drink together, so we’ll just create a new holiday,” he said.

The second wing, Banshee Ranch, went off without a hitch. Evans asked about the most “degrading” thing Freid had done in support of his comedy career, to which Freid told a story about performing at a minor league baseball game. He recalled the age group was all wrong for his comedy and he preceded a fireworks show, making his job nearly impossible.

Before the third wing, Freid took off his sweatshirt and his bucket hat, which he promptly replaced with a pair of Nittany Lion ears. Evans and Freid chatted about “The Bachelor” while each put the third sauce away without much complaint.

Freid has a “Bachelor”-themed podcast and a dating advice podcast, so he expressed his strong feelings about his appreciation for the way “The Bachelor” is set up and somewhat mimics real-life dating.

The fourth wing and sauce, Los Calientes Verde, led to Freid unbuttoning a few buttons on his shirt. Evans asked how Freid finds the best spots to eat when he travels — and Freid was quite passionate in his answer, noting that the recommender was miles more important than the recommendation itself.

“I want the best thing, and I want people to put their name on it,” Freid said. “I don’t like when someone goes, ‘Well, what are you looking for?’ I’m looking for you to have some confidence.”

On wing five, complimented with a ghost pepper sauce, Freid took off his button-down entirely and switched out the Nittany Lion ears for a Penn State handkerchief. Evans explained the names of the peppers are given by the farmers who grow them, who he described as “mad scientists.”

“Hot Ones” makes some of its own sauces, and Evans discussed that process. The show works with a man named Smokin’ Ed Currie, who was the grower of the Carolina Reaper, which was the hottest pepper in the world for quite some time. As Freid laughed at the names, Evans shared some of the crazier names that Smokin’ Ed had come up with, including “Apollo” and “Pepper X.”

After the brief deviation, Evans asked his real question for wing five — what stereotype of Penn State students is unfair, and what cliche or stereotype would Freid like to ring true?

“I think the unfair stereotype is that they’re all wild monster party animals. The only time you see Penn State people is around the game, so you only get game energy at Penn State,” Freid shared. “I think the reputation I want Penn State people to have is that they’re all good people. I think they’re all fun to be around and good at a party.”

He also divulged that Saquon Barkley is his favorite Penn State athlete, which Evans concurred with.

The pair then moved onto the back half of the wings with a sauce called Mushroom Mayhem. At this point, Freid had kicked off his overalls and even his shoes.

For a bit, the tables turned, and Freid questioned Evans about how often he ate the sauce lineup (four times in the most recent week alone), how he got into spicy foods (Evans’ dad didn’t allow mild salsa in the house growing up), and his personal favorite “Hot Ones” episode (the Gordon Ramsay episode). Evans was so busy getting interviewed by Freid that he didn’t ask a question on wing six.

Wing seven was highlighted by a sauce called Dreams of Calypso. Evans inquired about Freid’s favorite YouTube channel or personality.

“I’m always curious about the media diet of someone like you who has appeal across all platforms,” Evans said.

Freid explained that he doesn’t watch too much comedy because it feels like work and instead prefers to watch things like sports talk shows or podcasts. Evans shared that he, strangely, watches a lot of videos about elderly people getting catfished and scammed along with interrogation footage.

Wing eight was one of the toughest in the lineup, with a sauce called Da Bomb. Freid stalled on taking the first bite of this wing, and Evans was clearly cringing after his own bite.

Once again noting Freid’s expertise in dating advice, Evans asked what he thought was the most romantic chain restaurant. Freid made a strong case for Olive Garden. Evans followed up by asking for Freid’s opinion about who should pay on the first date.

As it turns out, Freid has done an entire TED Talk on this exact topic.

“A lot of people get into this debate about who should or shouldn’t and gender roles and all these things. It’s like, what a fucking waste of energy to tell someone else how they should feel about the roles of paying on a date,” Freid said. “I think the real answer of who should pay for the date is what feels good for you.”

Deep in the trenches, the pair headed to wing nine, which was another reaper-based sauce. In somewhat of an easy question, Freid named a few of his favorite comedians, which included Kevin James, Jerry Seinfeld, Bernie Mac, and Dave Attell.

Heading into the final wing and sauce, it was clear both men had the finish line in their sights and were ready to finish strong. After the final bites were taken, Evans asked what message Freid had to the students who came to watch the battle.

“Go get a graduate degree so you don’t have to do this for money,” Freid said.

Evans then answered a handful of questions that were submitted in advance by students. He recounted the making of “Hot Ones” and how it came from the desire to break a “PR-driven flight pattern” that so many celebrities were on.

Evans also walked the audience through his research process. He explained that he typically has around a week to research a guest on the show. During that time, he’ll consume all of the guest’s work, whether that’s movies, television, or music.

Along with the co-creator of “Hot Ones,” Chris Schonberger, and Evans’ younger brother, compile 30-40 pages of notes, which they then trim down into 15 topics that could be used as the basis for interview questions before finally narrowing it down to 10 topics.

Throughout the evening, Evans mentioned memories with people such as Ashton Kutcher, Gordon Ramsay, Pete Davidson, and Dave Grohl, who he hit it off with so well that Evans was invited to a movie premiere and private concert the day after they shot the “Hot Ones” episode.

Overall, though, Evans remains humble and appreciative of the work that he gets to do.

“It’s all like a wild dream and I’m so grateful for it and so appreciative of everything that’s happened,” he said. “I love coming back to colleges because that’s where the show first took off: on college campuses. To see that it still has that heat and it can still connect with people I think is the most amazing thing.”

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a senior studying immunology and infectious disease. She is from Mifflintown, PA, a tiny town south of State College. She is fueled by dangerous amounts of caffeine and dreams of smashing the patriarchy. Any questions or discussion about Taylor Swift’s best songs can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter or emailed to [email protected]

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