Conservative comedian's live broadcast draws crowd on UI Quad

Conservative comedian's live broadcast draws crowd on UI Quad

URBANA — An audience in excess of 500 people surrounded a tent outside the University of Illinois' Lincoln Hall on Thursday night to hear conservative comedian Steven Crowder host a live broadcast of his "Change My Mind" YouTube series.

The crowd was enthusiastic throughout the evening, with many sporting "Make America Great Again" caps and waving Donald Trump flags.

They spontaneously sang the national anthem together and roared as Crowder took his position in front of the cameras under the tent for the live YouTube broadcast.

Crowder said he was amazed that the actual turnout was far above estimates from social media.

"We have two to three times the people who said they were coming," Crowder said.

Many of the fans who couldn't get close enough to see or hear Crowder watched the live feed on their cellphones.

While there had been some initial concern about security for the event, no incidents were reported. Two UI police officers were stationed just outside Lincoln Hall to observe, but Crowder apparently only spotted one of them.

"Only one armed officer showed up. Now that's what you need for a crowd like this," he joked.

Much of the show involved Crowder debating a series of liberals from the audience, with the topic for the night being "Socialism is evil."

"I think socialism is immoral because it is theft," he said.

"The idea is to have some discourse instead of having both sides separated," said Jack Johnson, president of the Illini Republicans, which invited Crowder to campus.

Crowder kept the show light, frequently interjecting humorous comments.

"I know many of you are still reeling from your rejection from Northwestern," he said with a grin.

Reagan Tapley of Savoy said she was excited to see Crowder in person.

"I just like that he promotes free speech and exchanges ideas with people," Tapley said.

Michael Skibski of the Illini Libertarians said he has wanted Crowder to come to the UI for a long time.

"He is very informative while also being very entertaining at the same time," he said.

"I came out to have a good time. It's the best party on campus," said Evan Long of Orland Park.

Urbana High School freshman Nevaeh Guldbrandsen was holding a large American flag.

"I'm a big fan of Steven Crowder," he said. "I like that he says what needs to be said."

The full episode is below.