Campus Life’s Lounge series began Thursday with Laugh Lounge, a free comedy night featuring local comedians and free snacks in room 300 of the Eastern Michigan University Student Center.
The room was filled to capacity with some students left standing or sitting on the floor. A cheese platter, chicken wings, mini sandwiches and soft drinks were provided and promptly devoured by the excited crowd.
Campus Life superbly transformed room 300 from a conference room where blood drives are often held to a conference room trying to look like a comedy club. This is not an intentional dig at their efforts, which are commendable. A conference room with a stage and spotlights is still a conference room. The room lacked the feel of a dimly lit comedy club, but the audience couldn’t care less.
After about 30 minutes of intermingling, the show began with the evening’s emcee, Darnell Anderson. The audience warmed to Anderson relatively quickly, perhaps due to his excessive f-bombs, jokes about weed and musings about getting laid after the show.
Setting the tone for the comics to follow him, Anderson dealt with at least one heckler quickly and effectively and let the audience know it was okay to laugh.
Originally from Romulus, Anderson first fell in love with comedy at Western Michigan University where he competed in stand-up competitions.
“You know, I like to joke about the stuff I see in everyday life, and some of my crappier jobs have been great influences,” Anderson said.
While Anderson was funny, some of his best bits stemming from racial identity, he seemed to lose steam as his set went on. The last two-three minutes were a bit awkward as he fumbled his delivery and seemed to lose his place.
“He’s really good in the beginning, but I felt bad for him at the end,” said Sophmore Korina Smith, “He’s gotta tighten his act up, but he’s got potential.”
The second comedian, EMU alum and Ypsilanti resident Mike Evitts, is no stranger to the Laugh Lounge. Much of his act focused on economic woes, something his audience could definitely relate to.
Alongside the prerequisite “crappy job” jokes, his material soared when he highlighted some common Asian stereotypes and Miley Cyrus’ fellatio habits.
“Usually, if the audience is a bit older, they can be reserved about an Asian comedian,” said Evitts, “with them, you have to acknowledge those kinds of defects early.”
Evitts seemed to relish groans from the audience, and nothing was deemed inappropriate in his eyes. He touched on adoption, abortion, racial dynamics, teen sex, tattoos, piercing, a dead ex-girlfriend, carnivals and poverty.
“He was good! I thought he was great, but I could tell some people didn’t like some of his racier stuff. I thought his off-color stuff was hilarious though,” freshman Sarah Allen said.
The headliner, Michael McDaniel, was easily the crowd favorite. Most of his comedy rode a fine line between inappropriate and hilarious. He excelled at observational humor, finding many audience members to openly mock, but they didn’t seem to mind.
“He was easily the funniest stand-up comedian I’ve ever seen, except maybe Kevin James,” said Penny, the butt of more than one of his jokes regarding her fifth-year senior daughter, Rachael and her overly affectionate boyfriend, Adam. “I was crying!”
McDaniel expertly read his audience—when he noted that one of the students with a pink mohawk that he bullied wasn’t laughing very hard at the jokes made at his expense, he shifted the focus to someone else. Incidentally, that pink-mohawked student happened to be Evitts’ brother.
Some of McDaniel’s jokes were offensive, including more than one bit about the mentally disabled, but his impressions were a huge hit. Ranging from his spot-on Will Smith, Kat Williams and Mike Epps to his not-so-impressive Barack Obama.
McDaniel had more than one audience member crying and gasping for breath. One recurring topic was a joke about having sex to Justin Beiber’s song “Baby,” and it got to the point where he simply had to sing a few notes to receive thundering laughter and applause.
The Laugh Lounge was a tremendous success for Campus Life, and nearly everyone in attendance had a great time. More Laugh Lounges are scheduled for Oct. 28 and Jan. 27 from 9 p.m.- midnight in room 300 of the Student Center.
In addition, Campus Life is planning many other “lounges,” including a Storyteller’s Lounge this Thursday at 9 p.m. and a Lyric Lounge with the Poetry Society next Thursday at 7 p.m.
For more information on upcoming lounges, or other Campus Life events, visit www.emich.edu/campuslife.