Laughing out loud? Certainly, students at the College of William and Mary had their funny bones tickled October 18 when Alma Matter Productions brought two visiting comedians, Shapel Lacey and headliner Trevor Wallace.
For these two comedy kings, it seemed like no topic was off limits — especially when it came to poking fun of Williamsburg and the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at the College. The Sadler Center experienced a “raunchfest” hitherto unseen this academic year — at least by me.
Opening for Wallace, Lacey warmed up the audience with his astute observational humor. Coming from white — dominated Mesa, Arizona — Lacey did not shy away from joking about the uber-sensitive topics of race and sexuality in our modern society. Most notable were his jokes about his adopted parents’ whiteness especially in contrast to his blackness — principally in the fact that he grew up not knowing black American culture. Having moved to Los Angeles, Lacey met his first black friend and he joked about his outsider-status caused by liking the white things that he grew up around — making him feel like he doesn’t even have access to the “n-word card.”
Spoiler alert: Lacey came to realize that he does, in fact, have access to that card.
One anecdote that stuck out as strong, relevant yet still irreverent humor was Lacey making light of the heteronormative, masculine behavior expected of straight men — and completely and unapologetically throwing it out of the window.
“Prior to moving to Los Angeles, for the longest time, I was living with my best friend and his husband — yeah, I said that right,” Lacey said over roaring laughter. “I know what went on in that house. … A lot of my straight friends act like we can’t be straight males and be best friends with gay gentlemen. They say things like ‘Your best friend, he’s hitting on you, huh…’ I just want to slap the s— out of them for saying that because of course he was hitting on me. Come on, look at all this sexual chocolate walking around this house. My homie knows how to give complements and I take that. He’s my ride or die.”
Pivoting to his childhood, Lacey made sure to let everyone know his true feelings for tuna noodle casserole.
“White people get so excited like ‘this is our dish.’ and I’m like ‘you can keep it.’” Lacey said. “Who told y’all to do that? There can’t be a recipe for this s— man. They even dressed it up with peas like it was doing something. Throw this away, we don’t need this. My adopted parents had me thinking for the longest time they were alcoholics, because you have to be f—ed up to make something like this.”
Despite Lacey’s relative newcomer status, his astuteness, self-confidence and his willingness to turn anything into a joke could possibly spell out a — dare I say it — auspicious career as a comic.
After Lacey’s wonderfully entertaining set, it was time for the headliner of the night, Trevor Wallace.
“You’re all probably thinking, that broke a– is wearing the same sweater as in the flyer, isn’t he?” Wallace said as he took the stage.
Further introducing himself, Wallace took some deserved shots at Williamsburg.
“My tour schedule got f—ed up and I was supposed to be in L.A. right before this and things got mixed up, so I’ve been here since Wednesday,” Wallace said. “So, if you do your math, that’s approximately too … f—ing long okay? I know it’s too long since I went to Shorty’s for breakfast this morning and the hostess was like ‘oh, it’s you again.’ I gotta get out of here dude.”
Further down on Wallace’s hit-list was the Greek life system as an institution. He wasted no time in making fun of the stereotypical way that fraternity brothers comport themselves: the way they dress and their abuse of nicotine and alcohol.
However, a few of Wallace’s punchlines fell flat, and it was not necessarily his fault. Rather, it’s just that segments of his stand up depended on the context of living in Los Angeles, which I quickly realized that only myself and a few other people “got.” For example, I can’t exactly chastise William and Mary students for not knowing what Santa Monica or the Sunset Strip are.
In spite of this, it seemed as though Wallace picked up on the audience’s lack of enthusiasm for this kind of specific observational humor and tried making it more relevant to the College and Virginia. Likewise, another criticism of Wallace’s stand-up is that he makes observations that otherwise remain shallow without going too far deep into the subject matter.
However, in defense of Wallace: he is not exactly known for his sophisticated sense of humor. In fact, he is most notorious for the opposite — a very much white-boy “fratty” style of telling jokes.
In a refreshing display, Wallace took a big risk on a college campus, dipping his pinkie toe into politics — one wrong move could have resulted in a riot, however, he managed to get the whole audience laughing with a relatable joke.
“I was never really offended by politics,” Wallace said. “I’m not gonna get political. … I know where I am. But one thing I do appreciate about Trump is his s— talking skills. Impeccable. So good. Trump talks s— like he spends every morning hanging out with 13-year olds on Xbox Live, you know? He’s too good. I think he’s got ghost writers.”
Overall, Lacey and Wallace were great choices for AMP to have brought to the College during Homecoming.
Based on audience engagement and the absurdly long lines in the subsequent meet-and-greet, I can confidently say that it seems they were very well received. If AMP can continue to bring up and coming names in comedy — especially ones that are actually funny — certainly it would make the amount invested in this program worth it.