Stampede Comedy Show headliner resonates with crowd; opener falls short

Nicole Byer speaking in the Yuengling Center on Monday night. ORACLE PHOTO / CHAVELI GUZMAN

The 2018 Homecoming Kickoff event took place at the Yuengling Center on Monday night, welcoming students and alumni with a green and gold balloon arch on stage which spelled out, “Go Bulls.”

The Campus Activities Board shared a video presentation of USF System President Judy Genshaft’s nearly two decades of Homecoming events as a thank you to what she has done for the university in her 18-year tenure.

The show then continued and featured Rocky the Bull destroying a UConn themed piñata before throwing beads to the audience.  

After the welcoming, Stampede Comedy Show performers Nicole Byer and Alex Moffat had the spotlight.

Alex Moffat opening for Nicole Byer on Monday. ORACLE PHOTO / CHAVELI GUZMAN.

However, the audience had different reactions to each comedian.

The hysterically laughing audience of over 700 students and alumni were entertained by Byer’s animated performance but seemed underwhelmed by Moffat's impressions and use of a piano.

Moffat had a rough start with the crowd when he did what he called “German gibberish,” which included him mumbling jokes in a German accent about Tampa and USF to a relatively quiet audience.

Moffat’s performance had many awkward moments of silence after his joke delivery. When Moffat asked the audience if they wanted more impressions, the crowd of mostly students collectively yelled back “no.”

Moffat started off his comedy career in Chicago as an improviser and impressionist. Moffat then starred on Saturday Night Live (SNL) in October 2016 and is a current cast member.

The audience seemed unresponsive to his “actors that don’t really know their lines” impressions in which he intentionally flubbed famous movie lines. During his impression of the movie Mean Girls, he merely stated, “Why so mean, girls?”

Before welcoming Byer to the stage, Moffat sang his rendition of Piano Man by Billy Joel on the keyboard. Moffat purposely played random piano keys and encouraged the audience to sing along to his off-putting tune, to which the audience either followed along or simply sat in confused silence.

The audience’s reaction shifted positively after Byer took the stage with her vulgar humor, however.

Byer established herself on the MTV show which is a female-driven comedy series that focused on giving advice and sharing personal stories with the audience. Byer is now a host on the Netflix original series “Nailed It!”  which premiered in March 2018. In each episode, three contestants who have poor baking skills compete to make the best elaborate cake.

Byer’s jokes about her weight, race and dating life received the biggest reactions from the audience, whether it be from laughter or groans from her unapologetic delivery.

She said that she often gets dirty looks or remarks when she says she is “starving” because of her weight. She added that many respond to her by saying that she’s not starving, it’s the children in Africa that are. Byer unapologetically laughed through her punchline and said, “No, I’m starving. They’re dying.”

Byer did not shy away from political comments either, as she referred to President Donald Trump as being “orange” and his senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, having “hair like spaghetti.”

This was not Byer’s first time performing at USF and said that she “felt close” with the audience and was excited to come back.

Byer also mentioned that she filmed a comedy special earlier this year and encouraged the audience, and Delta Airlines, with whom she had an altercation on Twitter, to “stay tuned.”