Jay Pharoah, a featured cast member on “Saturday Night Live” for six years, delivered a memorable comedy performance filled with impressions, stories and rap on Feb. 9 at the University of Miami’s Rathskeller. This past “Saturday Night Live” season was Pharoah’s last, and he is now focusing on his comedy and music career outside of the show. Pharoah was best known on “Saturday Night Live” for his Barack Obama impressions, which he performed for UM students.
For his one-night stand-up comedy routine, Pharoah opened with a small snippet of a song. He then joked about how he was almost kicked out of his own show when standing in the upstairs section of the venue before the performance. For one of the most well-known celebrity impersonators, it was surprising to see how few impressions he began his set with – but by the end of the night, there was no shortage of impressions. One of his most clever impressions was of Justin Bieber’s “Where Are Ü Now,” perfectly executing the rendition of the post-hook noise in the song.
As far as material goes, Pharoah was all over the place, though comedians are some of the few people who can do this well and get away with it. Pharoah was able to tell many stories while connecting them through comedy. He would joke about rappers like Drake and Lil’ Yachty, then switch to talk about his childhood.
There were no barriers for this comedy star. He touched on all subjects from race and sexuality to politics and puberty. He told a long story about a party that he went to where he had too much of the drug Molly. In between his party and politics stories, Pharoah weaved in his famous Jay-Z impression with complaints paid out to Beyoncé.
Pharoah’s impressions of Ben Carson and former President Obama were hilarious. His Carson impression was borderline creepy, while Obama impression was multi-faceted. He did an impression of when he met Obama at the White House and also did a sketch of what Obama’s last day in office could have looked like.
Although not all of the jokes got the same laughs, it was a solid performance. Pharoah ended with a performance of him freestyle rapping.
As college students face lots of pressure from daily stress, the comic relief was much appreciated by the audience. He told the crowd to enjoy the college years and to tell the people they love that they love them – a positive end to a refreshing, enjoyable performance.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars