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Comedian Adam Mamawala brings the laughs to UC Rotunda


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Comedian Adam Mamawala emotes to the crowd during his set on Tesday, Oct. 11 in the UC Rotunda.

Adam Mamawala was named one of Best 30 Comedians Under 30: Comedians to Watch by "Funny or Die" and has been featured on MTV's "Girl Code."

Yet when the 29-year-old took the stage at Central Michigan University's Bovee University Center Rotunda, he joked he felt he made it as a comedian by being able to perform in Mount Pleasant.

Program Board presented the comedy show to a crowd of about 40 people Tuesday. He came to CMU after spending two days performing sets in Grand Rapids.

The performance marked Mamawala's second time at CMU. In 2014, the New York City resident did stand-up and hosted the Student Organization Achievement and Recognition awards.

This time, his experience was much different.

“That (first) time was a little bit different because it was students and staff. I had to do clean (material) because it was that sort of event, whereas in this case there wasn’t any content restrictions," Mamawala said. "I had the ability to be looser today and have more fun with people as opposed to being on the straight and narrow.”

Mamawala delivered a half hour set which he described as "ok." 

“There were definitely some moments of awkwardness and lulls," Mamawala said. "That’s the interesting thing about performing in colleges — a college audience is a lot different than the audiences I have in New York. It took people a little while to warm up, but I thought once they did, people were receptive and ended up having a good time.”

The first part of Mamawala's set contained a diverse array of topics, such as talking to elderly people on a plane, his one encounter with a former high school classmate and how he auditioned for the CBS show "Madam Secretary."

Mamawala said he uses certain jokes early in his set as a barometer for how far he can go with the jokes that come later. If a joke doesn't go well, he said he does self-deprecation to bring the humor back.

“Not every joke is going to work out the way you wanted it to but you can’t dwell on it," he said. "You just have to move on to the next thing.”

The comedian also said he wants to treat his college audience as adults.

“I tend to think that people respond to the way you treat them – if you baby them, they are going to act like babies," Mamawala said. "If you treat them like adults, they tend to be pretty receptive to what you said."

Mamawala's topics ranged from race to critiquing a flier for a missing cat named Felix.

He ended the show with a story about crying in a civil war museum, and a few stories about his wife, Ali.  He then gave out t-shirts to random audience members who followed him on Twitter and Instagram.

New Baltimore senior Melissa Treppa won a free t-shirt and said Mamawala's performance was her first comedy show at CMU. 

“The only other comedian I’ve seen live is Jerry Seinfeld, so they are obviously two different generations. (Mamawala) kind of spoke to our generation better," Treppa said. "They’re both funny but he’s more relatable.”

The performance was Harbor Springs senior Ellen Auten's first time seeing a live stand-up comedic.

“It wasn’t what I expected but it was a lot of fun," Auten said. "It was just kind of awkward at first.”

Program Board comedy chair Nicole Hengesbach was pleased to bring Mamawala to campus for his second go-around at CMU.

“I think it went well," Hengesbach said. "The students seemed to enjoy it. We had a great turnout.”

Mamawala said he used to do 80 college performances a year, but it's usually on the road for one week a month. Mamawala said no matter where his career heads, he does not plan to abandon the college circuit, but hopes it will be different for him.

A late night spot on "Conan" or "Late Night with Seth Meyers" are goals for Mamwala, as is receiving a half-hour comedy special on Comedy Central. 

He also wants to be on camera and venture into acting more.

“I would love to be in a position where people in colleges came out to see me," he said. "That’s what I hope for and that’s what I look forward to, but it’s a process so we’ll see.”

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About Evan Sasiela

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

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