BUS Annual Homecoming Comedy Show tackles stereotypes with laughs

Matthew Merchant

As 8 p.m. approached, Kent State students and alumni lined the hallway outside the Student Center Ballroom, waiting for the show to begin. The Annual Homecoming Comedy Show presented by Black United Students featured comedians Deon Cole and Michael McDaniel.

Students in the audience danced to a live DJ before the show began. A bass beat could be heard echoing throughout the Student Center, drawing a curious crowd to the doors. Students had the opportunity to grab free popcorn and drinks at the door provided by BUS.

Opening the show was Detroit impressionist Michael McDaniel.

“Did you y’all win your homecoming game?” McDaniel said. “No. Y’all depressed. Y’all about to cheer up, then.” Being from Detroit, he said, he knew exactly how the audience felt about losing.

The audience laughed as he did impressions of celebrities, including Miley Cyrus on a plane twerking.

McDaniel impersonated the actions of gospel singer Donnie McClurkin and church pastors, which got the audience to respond with outbursts of laughter and applause.

Singling out students in the front row, McDaniel cracked jokes about appearances, fashion sense and dancing abilities. He even joked about Marvin Logan, Undergraduate Student Government programming director, being in a wheelchair.

“It’s all good,” Logan said in response. Logan was the target of several jokes, from being handicapped to jumping up out of his seat in laughter.

Following McDaniel was the main act of the night, Deon Cole.

As a staff writer and actor for “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” and “Conan,” Cole has appeared in multiple TV sketch comedy and stand up acts. He targeted stereotypes within the black community throughout his routine.

“You gotta know when to manage your blackness,” Cole said. “This is what black people gotta know about making it in society: You gotta know when to turn your blackness up and when to turn it off.”

Cole joked about his trip from Florida to Kent State on “a plane full of old people” and having the seat next to him open because he was black. Utilizing black stereotypes, Cole explained, could be useful in society if applied properly and at the right time.

“I live out in Los Angeles in a place called Westwood,” Cole said. “This place is all white. I mean glacial white. Like I’m the only black guy in Westwood. It’s so white over there that if I see another black dude, I call the police because I don’t know him.”

Cole also joked that he wanted to create a coffee shop that black people could relate to.

“I’m going to name the coffees after things black people can identify with. I’m going to call it Blackbucks,” Cole said. “Can I take your order? Sure, let me get two Don Cheadles, one Whoopi Goldberg and a Little Richard — no sugar in my Little Richard, he should be sweet enough. And let me get a Precious.”

The audience of alumni and students reacted with a gasp at the reference. Cole responded that you couldn’t talk about Jesus or Precious around black people without someone getting upset.

At the end, the audience was laughing and joking with each other about comedic references to black culture and stereotypes.

“I was really happy that the undergraduate student government provided the opportunity for BUS to put on this event,” Logan said after the event. “I think the students really enjoyed the event.”

Some in the audience were surprised at the large turnout representing the black student body.

“I wasn’t intending on coming, but some of my friends dragged me out, so I’m glad I came,” sophomore public health major Arie Hayre-Somuah said. “I think people are afraid to come to events like this because they know there will be all black people. We’re such a tiny group on campus; I feel like they are intimidated to be around us.”

Contact Matthew Merchant at [email protected].