Program Board hopes for interactive Back to School Comedy Jam


While discussing possible comedy acts for fall 2016, Program Board could have brought a traditional stand-up comedian to Central Michigan University.

Instead, it's bringing in three comedians it hopes will offer an interactive performance.

Former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Jay Pharoah, Michael Blackson and D.C. Young Fly, both of "Nick Cannon Presents: Wild 'n Out," will perform at Program Board's Back to School Comedy Jam Thursday at McGuirk Arena.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are free for CMU students, who can pick up a minimum of two tickets at Ticket Central with a student ID. Tickets are $20 for the public.

Program Board President Angela Distelrath said D.C. Young Fly will host the show with Blackson as the opening act. Pharoah's performance will likely take up half of the show, which is set to be between an hour-and-a-half to two hours, Distelrath said.

Distelrath said she doesn't know what content to expect with the comedians.

“This is the first time we’ve had these kind of interactions between (comedians)," she said. "It’s definitely going to be unique, but we’re not exactly sure what the set-up is. They’re kind of just going to bring their own spark to it.”

Pharoah was an "SNL" cast member since 2010. He impersonated many prominent figures and celebrities on the show, including President Barack Obama, former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, rapper Jay-Z and actor Denzel Washington.

“We’ve watched some of his videos and he’s very funny," Program Board Comedy Chair Nicole Hengesbach said. "We’re excited to see what he does.”

Blackson and D.C. Young Fly have both been featured on "Wild 'n Out," which is a sketch and improvisation comedy show on MTV. Distelrath said there may be some interactions during the show similar to on "Wild n' Out."

Distelrath said she is excited to see how Phaorah's openers help round out the show.

“They both have different crowds they bring in," she said. "I think that we can definitely attract a bigger audience with both of them. Having them work together will be a really good experience.”

Hengesbach said Program Board began planning in June for its fall headliner, but Damon Brown, director of Student Activities and Involvement, was contacted by the comedians' representatives. After watching some clips of the comedians', the group decided to bring them to Mount Pleasant.

“These guys definitely will bring something that I wouldn’t say we’ve had before," Hengesbach said. "I think that will definitely provide a new perspective and light for the future and trying to do this more often.”

Last fall, Program Board brought in actor and comedian Nick Swardson as the headlining act. Distelrath said the group wanted to reach out to different comedy audiences.

“Our job is to be able to provide students the best opportunity and entertainment we can. When we can afford it, that’s what we are able to do," she said. "This is definitely a great opportunity we kind of took it and ran with it. We’ll see how it goes.”

The capacity for the event is around 3,300.

The event was announced on Aug 27. Distelrath said it has been a challenge to promote an event in less than two weeks, but Program Board has utilized social media to get word out about the show.

“The tickets really aren't a problem," Distelrath said. "It’s making sure we reach end-to-end of campus about students having the option to come out.”


About Evan Sasiela

Evan Sasiela is the University Editor at Central Michigan Life and a senior at Central Michigan ...

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