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Vulgar, crass, hilarious

On Thursday night the Sun Dome was transformed into a bastion of comedy. Peals of laughter echoed off the walls as thousands of USF students enjoyed the hilarity of three stellar comedians, each of whom was introduced by a poet whose talent belied the tenderness of his years. Free pizza and soda were provided outside Gate 1 to ensure that hunger and thirst would pry no one from his seat during such a memorable performance.

The Stampede Comedy Show was one of the highlights of the Homecoming festivities. George Watsky served as master of ceremonies. Attendees left the show without any doubts about why Watsky won the Youth Speaks Grand Poetry Slam in 2006. His spoken-word style was delivered with brass and confidence, in a tone that reminds one of a smack-off contestant on Jim Rome’s sports talk show.

Watsky isn’t afraid to address topics like social inequality and politics, but his strength is in his sense of humor. His monologue on being a high school virgin had the audience in stitches.

He goes on fast-paced rants packed with conventional and slant rhymes, then slows down, lowers his register and hits you with a hook that resonates in your memory. In a speech that blends revulsion for insincere politicians and drunken Cassanovas, he quips: “It’s checkup time. After all, half of all Americans are living at, or below, the pick-up line.”

Watsky’s resumé boasts searing wit, strong stage presence and a volume of poetry, all at the age of 20.

The first comedian to hit the stage Thursday night was Pablo Francisco. First and foremost he’s a stand-up comedian, but he’s also worked on sketch comedy shows like MadTV. Facetiously, he said he was on the show when it was still good.

The bulk of Francisco’s performance relied on his superior ability to do voices and impressions. His repertoire of parodies ranges from valley girl to Arnold Schwarzenegger to the dramatic voice from movie trailers, and they’re all impeccable. He discovered his talent in his youth, when he used it to entertain his siblings and classmates. His humor was a bit juvenile, but I don’t think he was trying to win a Nobel Prize. The audience was cracking up, and in comedy, that’s the bottom line.

Stephen Lynch was up next, and he brought his guitar. His comedic talent has earned him a half-hour special on Comedy Central Presents and his musical skill landed him the starring role in the Broadway musical The Wedding Singer.

He seemed utterly devoid of concern about being offensive. His songs satirize homosexuals, old people, priests, the divorced, the handicapped and everyone else. The highlight of his show was definitely his impromptu roast of his sign language translator. She was a pretty good sport. Lynch started blurting out curse words for her to sign. Then, when he moved on to a part of the female anatomy, she laughed and shyly made a familiar gesture that cracked everyone up. The incorrigible Lynch then asked her what sign she would use for diamond.

Eddie Griffin wrapped things up with a strong performance. Every single joke met with resounding laughter and applause. His jokes were more racially charged than the other two performers’, but this is getting more common in the world of stand-up comedy. He cracked on Christianity and Islam, Michael Jackson and the difference between dogs and cats. Griffin was rated 62 on Comedy Central’s list of all-time greatest stand-up comedians and has starred in dozens of successful movies. His presence at USF’s Homecoming Stampede should be a matter of pride for our entire student body.