Having only known Damon Wayans Jr. as Coach from “New Girl,” I had no idea what to expect going into his performance. I was surprised, but not disappointed. Wayans is a master storyteller and, to be quite honest, hilarious. But is that really a surprise considering he is a standup comedian? Having been exposed to standup in the past, I knew what to expect from the format: some personal anecdotes, political commentary and jokes sometimes bordering on the category of vulgarity. However, Wayans had a way with his comedy that made it uniquely his own.
To start the evening, Thomas Dale warmed up the crowd with a taste of one of his sets. Dale’s self-deprecating humor and banter with the audience made for constant laughter throughout the crowd. He used his body language and voice to tell stories of his life with a relevance to our current social and political climates. One of his running jokes involved how much he loved straight boys and that it was a shame that they never loved him back. He asked the audience questions about this dilemma, pausing occasionally to engage with specific members of the audience, telling them how adorable they were, or that it was okay to laugh at his jokes. He was personable, and his stories were relatable. He spoke about his tendency to be a hypochondriac, and how Google is his worst enemy in that regard, something that we can all relate to at times. Overall, the best thing about his performance was his ability to connect to the audience and the organic nature of his set. He was the perfect warm up for Wayans.
Wayans talked about his father a lot: how they share the same name, the same face, and that they partied together frequently.
Wayans began his set with questions for the audience, seeming to take a real interest in the atmosphere of the College. My personal favorite question was, “Are you guys a party school? Or a nerd school?” The audience rang out with a resounding, “NERD!” He took our answers and laughed with us, creating a back and forth environment, before he segued into his main set, which included stories about his family, his career, racism and his sex life.
His jokes, though some were done in a way that seemed tactless, provided a conversation starter for the rest of his performance. He incorporated many facets of his life, giving multiple relatable topics, and some that were completely off the wall. He spoke subtly about the racial and gender equality-related tensions that are rampant in our country, saying, “If you like me, I’ll like you back. I don’t care what you look like.” Most memorable, however, were the stories about his family.
Wayans talked about his father a lot: how they share the same name, the same face, and that they partied together frequently. He did a bit about how he wasn’t allowed to call his father “Dad” at the clubs because it ruined his dad’s chances with the ladies and about how he smelled like Icy-Hot all the time, so they would know he was old anyway. Along with the stories about his dad, Wayans spoke of his son. He told stories about about kids and how weird they are, not understanding why babies cry when they’re first born, and wanting to create a truthful line of baby clothing. He then did a bit about how his two-year-old son only speaks Spanish from spending most of his time with his nanny and the language barrier that has formed between himself and his son. This piece was full of political innuendos about the current state of the country which made it all the funnier.
Overall, Wayans was a crowd pleaser, never leaving an awkward silence in between his jokes. His use of diction, changing his voice for different characters and his gestures painted a picture with each story that he told; sometimes it was a story that you wanted to picture and sometimes not. Regardless, his set was enjoyable, though sometimes venturing into the offensive, and left me with a smile on my face and in a better mood than when I arrived.