The 2019 Homecoming kickoff and Stampede Comedy Show opened Monday night to the USF Herd of Thunder band and the USF All-Girls Cheer who performed in front of a crowd of about 600 students, who rocked their heads indifferently to the performance.
However, after the headliner Michelle Buteau took the stage later in the evening, the energy and laughter in the room rarely fell short.
Campus Activities Board (CAB) Program Coordinator Jill Teeter said 582 students RSVP’d to watch the performances in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom.
CAB welcomed USF President Steve Currall to his first Homecoming by presenting him with a custom-made football jersey. He then praised USF on being “the fastest-rising university in the country,” which prompted resounding applause from students, faculty and community members.
This was in response to USF recently being named No. 44 on the U.S. News and World Report public university ranking, 14 spots higher than last year.
Capitalizing on the school spirit, Executive Director of the Alumni Association Bill McCausland brought out a piñata shaped like Saturday’s Homecoming game opponent BYU’s mascot, a cougar, for USF’s mascot, Rocky D. Bull, to body-slam into it on stage.
Once the initial ceremonies ended, comedian Jake Nordwind took the stage as the opener. He is known for starring in College Humor’s series Lonely and Horny and Above Average’s series Backhouse.
Nordwind broke the ice by riffing on the sound crew because of the low microphone sound. Eventually, the audience started opening up and eventually built up to roaring laughter as Nordwind talked about his previous history with heckling on other college tours.
“I got my favorite heckle recently in another college, where I was totally bombing, and I said a joke that was met with absolute silence like this,” Nordwell said — to a silent audience. “And a kid in the very back of the room stands up and says, ‘I don’t like it.’”
After a couple more jokes about following Drake Bell in Texas and his days in a Jewish sleepaway camp, he was able to get the entire Ballroom laughing.
“I felt the room wasn’t vibing [at first],” said Kimi Alberico, a junior majoring in social work. “But then after he made a few jokes, the room started getting a lot more comfortable.”
After his 30-minute set, Nordwell cleared the stage to welcome Buteau with a warmed-up audience ready to meet her.
Buteau greeted the cheering crowd of mostly college students with immediate profanity by saying to them “look at these cute a** motherf*****s.”
Buteau is mainly known for her roles in the Netflix original movie, Always Be My Maybe, and her podcast, Late Night Whenever, in which her explosive personality results in long conversations with comedians and celebrities every week.
The Stampede Comedy Show was no different.
Buteau had several back-and-forth-type interactions with the audience, such as when a student tried to wave her friend down, halfway through the show, by using her phone’s flashlight.
“Do you need help?” she asked. “Why’d you put your light up? You lookin’ for a friend? Let’s help a b**** out. ‘Cause I saw her with her light up and I was like ‘Ooh, I didn’t know there was table service out here.’”
Creating jokes based on the audience’s answers, she asked where students were from and made jokes out of their responses. Buteau had Spanish speakers translate vulgar sentences she had learned from her college days in Miami and had other international students teach her new phrases like “take your panties off” in Arabic and “f*** you” in Albanian.
Some portions of her comedy bits were met with quieter reactions. Buteau discussed raising her twin children following a few riffs on Sister Wives that elicited a moderate giggle. This began her next segment of her friends asking her “How do you feel about raising your children in ‘Trump’s America?’”
Almost immediately, the activity in the crowd dropped to an awkward lull. Buteau would spend the next few jokes trying to pull the crowd back.
A few segments generated the most laughter of the night, particularly when asking the audience to share their weird job stories. One student talked about finding a customer masturbating at Target, to which Buteau responded with “I guess she got what she came for,” which had the crowd belly-laughing.
After the show, some students thought that the crowd interactions with Buteau were “hilarious,” as Breeann Caldwell, a senior majoring in communications put it.
“She would just treat us all like we were old friends, especially when she called that [lost] girl upfront, that had me dying,” Caldwell said.
Naja, a member of the Tampa community, particularly enjoyed the warmth of Buteau’s personality.
“I loved it when she just would enter a segment with ‘Hey b****,’ and that she wasn’t afraid to just call someone out,” Naja said.
Buteau had some advice for the students to wrap up her stand-up, focusing on body positivity and life in college.
“If you don’t remember anything about tonight, please remember this s***,” Buteau said. “You’re here to get an education, obviously, OK? Your job, your degree, doesn’t define who you are. Your f***ing character does.”