Charter Chortle: Comedian Jaboukie Young-White dazzles Commonwealth with comedy and humor during Charter Day, met with a full house

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COURTESY IMAGE / ALMA MATER PRODUCTIONS

The College of William and Mary had the pleasure of hosting comedian Jaboukie Young-White Saturday, Feb. 8, as part of the annual Charter Day celebration. AMP put on this event for the students to come out for an entertaining end to the Charter Day weekend’s festivities. Come out they did, as over 450 students completely filled Sadler Center’s Commonwealth Auditorium that evening, creating an energetic atmosphere that was a blast to be a part of. 

Known mostly by his Twitter handle “@jaboukie,” the 25 year old from Chicago has been gaining a lot of popularity in the comedy world over the past few years. After leaving DePaul University to pursue a career in stand-up, he began working small gigs across different cities to try to make his way into this decidedly difficult field. He would eventually go on to be a finalist in the 2016 NYC Devil Cup Stand Up Festival and find himself on the “Vulture” article “20 Comedians You Should and Will Know” list. Since then, he’s found substantial success in Hollywood, landing roles in some smaller films and television productions, performing on the “Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” and writing for shows like Netflix’s “Big Mouth” and “American Vandal.” Most notably, however, he became a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” in 2018. His upcoming projects include an untitled Bo Burnham production alongside a role in season 6 of Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman.”

Alternatively, Young-White has gained a significant social media following through Twitter, where quite a bit of his content has gone viral. For example, Jan. 20 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — he changed his Twitter profile appearance to look like the official Federal Bureau of Investigation account as a joke. The punchline was a tweet that satirically admitted to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., for which his account was temporarily banned, ultimately making the whole endeavor a lot funnier. 

Keen to this popularity, AMP warned on Facebook that tickets would only be sold on the day-of at the door. This had students lining up outside Commonwealth as early 6 a.m. for an 8 p.m. show. When the doors opened after what felt like an eternity in line, everyone filed into the auditorium and waited for the opener, Jasmine Ellis, to come on. Ellis gave a great routine discussing everything from raunchy topics such as sex when you’re a newlywed, to problems like being a middle child or facing off against racist guys from Boston. 

Eventually, her time elapsed and you could feel the anticipation in the room aggressively spike as she announced the headliner. Opting for a casual look to set the tone, Young-White donned a baseball cap and a hoodie, making himself almost indistinguishable from the students in the audience. This played perfectly to his comedic style: cool, relaxed, conversational and personal. His bits were never oversold or hammed up, save for the occasional goofy punchline that reminded you that he’s truly a good performer and not just “your buddy” making you laugh. 

a large part of his humor is relatability, made easier by his definitively millennial upbringing; every anecdote hit perfectly with a crowd of this generation.

Either way, Young-White’s routine was fantastic. After all, he still is only three years out of college, so a large part of his humor is relatability, made easier by his definitively millennial upbringing; every anecdote hit perfectly with a crowd of this generation. On top of that, bits would occasionally dive into irreverent or ridiculous territory that perfectly supplanted the more observational content. As an example, he discussed his younger brother’s struggle in writing a pitifully engaging college essay only to come to a punchline that involved a dusty, Civil-War-veteran mother and ceiling-fan father. Later in the set, he talked about his experience as a gay actor auditioning for type-cast parts and related it to the overall LGBTQ+ representation in Hollywood. This almost poignant criticism of tinsel town’s shortcomings was then undercut with a hilariously over-the-top Smeagol impression, which still shed light on the all too common poorly-written LGBTQ+ characters in popular media. 

To deviate from all his presumably-prepared material, Young-White began asking students in the crowd what their majors were and riffed off of them for a while. Poking fun at STEM majors and sympathizing with us soon-to-be poor English majors were the common threads in this section. The other College-centric jokes included clowning our measly three bars and spooky atmosphere. Upon learning about the crypt, he feigned leaving right away. 

Young-White then made use of the projector to tell the story of his Twitter interaction going back and forth with an outspoken, anti-gay man, which was depicted in a quaint little slideshow. The other slideshow he prepared took us through the latest and hottest food trends, keeping the long-running joke a metaphorical depiction of women in showbusiness. Kale is strutting her stuff and pumpkin is taking some family time away from the limelight now that fall is over; it was so informative. I’d never realized that almond milk is a low-key Republican. 

The set ended with a classic thanks to the audience and a shout out to the opener, about whom you might’ve forgotten. AMP did a wonderful job with the organization of this event and should be commended for selecting such a talented comedian. Young-White gave an incredible routine that will be hard to top if the comedian trend keeps up. He kept it down to earth, and it seemed as if he genuinely loved performing for us. Once he blows up even more, it will be nice to remember when he came to our little college and made everyone’s night.