America’s Got Talent (AGT) finalist and comedian Preacher Lawson kept the crowd of students roaring Tuesday night in an engaging performance opened by some rising comedians.
The Marshall Student Center was lined with students spiraling around the first two floors waiting for the ballroom doors to open at 7:30 p.m., although they did not officially open until 7:45.
Preregistration for the show reached 627 Tuesday afternoon and there were about 680 students in the audience. The show started at about 8:05 p.m. and ended at 9:30 p.m., 30 minutes later than the scheduled time frame listed on BullsConnect.
Before Lawson took the stage, there were four unplanned opening bits by comedians Dewayne Williams, Jarri Know, Dylan Walker and Christophe Jean, all personally requested by Lawson.
All of the openers expressed gratitude to USF for allowing their appearance while poking fun at their experience with, or lack of, a formal education.
“Yeah, I got an English degree,” Jean said. “I think it was a lot like getting an STD. While I was getting it I was like, ‘This is so much fun.’ But then I had it and I was like, ‘What the hell did I do?’”
Although none of their bits exceeded seven minutes, the audience was rarely silent as the four comedians presented their unique sets of jokes. Topics ranged from commentary on state culture stereotypes to self-deprecation and personal anecdotes.
Lawson made it to the stage at about 8:30 p.m. and is opening started with an honest distaste for the city of Tampa, but love for Floridians’ relaxed response to COVID-19.
“Y’all, Florida thinks corona is just a Black girl name,” he said.
The audience was enthralled by the comedian’s opening jokes that were sequenced in an unscripted and off-the-cuff fashion.
After a member of the crowd’s phone rang out loudly in the room, Lawson called out the person by comically explaining how frustrating it was because of his “MSNBC,” jokingly referring to the acronym of his attention deficit disorder.
The comic then caught the crowd off guard when he turned his water break into a stripping shower, pouring the rest of his bottle over his head and taking off his wet T-shirt. He immediately started strutting and twerking around the stage flaunting his butt to the audience. One of the other comedians had to provide him with a dry sweatshirt to wear for the rest of the show.
Many of Lawson’s bits included the use of exaggerated voices and gestures, such as when he teased that some people say dogs have strikingly human mannerisms. Lawson dismantled the comparison by explaining dogs act more like drug addicts, and their excitement-filled personas would be rejected if they had the autonomy of a human.
“Dogs are like crackheads. [They’re like,] ‘Let me get one lick [on your face],’” Lawson said. “They got their head out the window, ‘This is the best life ever!’”
Lawson took many water breaks throughout the show, each resulting in cheering from the crowd. This elicited an encore to his previous watery stunt.
Eventually giving in to the audience’s encouragement, Lawson drenched himself again and took off his sweatshirt. He proudly showed off his physique by flexing and pressing the microphone stand above his head. Now without dry clothing, Lawson relied on a member of the crowd to provide him with clothing, who he offered to repay through Venmo.
However, he was not the only one Lawson offered to send money to through Venmo. He told the crowd he would send also $100 to the first 10 members of the audience to follow and message him on Instagram.
Nearing the end of his show, Lawson had more one-on-one interactions with the crowd and conversed and joked with audience members.
The comedian was excited to sing Happy Birthday with the audience after a student told him it was his birthday. This then prompted him to recall a horrendous birthday of his where everyone forgot except his mother and brother.
“Everyone forgot my 19th birthday except my mom and brother,” he said. “Mom got me a $100 Applebee’s gift card, [and my brother said] ‘Hey, sorry everyone forgot about your birthday. You hungry? I heard mom got you an Applebee’s gift card.’”
Lawson’s final bits came from crowd suggestions as he asked what they wanted to see. The audience came to an enthusiastic consensus in their demand to see his infamous “homeless person” bit from one of his AGT performances.
The ballroom peaked in laughter as he recounted his unavoidable encounter with a naked homeless man asking for $75 for a soda. Lawson said after he confronted the man for deceptively wanting money for drugs, he was met with a long yell.
To demonstrate how the homeless man acted, Lawson yelled for two minutes straight while shaking his body around the stage.
Lawson continued to make jokes and laugh with the audience until he ran out of time for his performance, with his final interactions with the crowd including answering questions and announcing which students he would Venmo.