“I’m not a punk, I’m a survivor.”
These were the words of 25 year-old actor and comedian Jay Pharoah, of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” Sunday night in the Robert M. Smith Student Center Ballroom as many students gathered to hear Pharoah perform his stand-up routine.
Pharoah warmed up the crowd with asking how many ethnicities were present in the audience, striking up laughs among Slippery Rock’s diverse student body.
“Where are the Asians at?! Make some noise,” Pharoah said, expecting a rise from the crowd. He was perplexed by the resounding ‘woo’ heard from one Asian student.
“Just one?!” he asked. “That’s okay, you guys run it with Gangnam Style!” he said while breaking out into song and dance.
Pharoah joked about the many pressures college students face and made light of situations that some students find themselves getting into.
“Man, I can’t smoke weed,” Pharoah said. “Last time I got so high I was driving around asking for my car keys.”
Pharoah reassured this notion with his catch phrase of the evening and personal motto, “I’m not a punk, I’m a survivor.”
Pharoah pulled out his signature material and the part of his routine that received the biggest response of laughter from the crowd, being his impressions.
From Chris Rock, Drake, Little Wayne, Matthew McConaughey, Nicholas Cage, Eddie Murphy, the cast of Family Guy, Will Smith, and Barack Obama, to Jay-Z working in a haunted house, Pharoah showcased a variety of his impressionist talents.
Pharoah embodied his interpretation of comedian Kat Williams working in a sperm bank, asking the crowd, “Are you trying to be everybody’s baby daddy?!”
Pharoah also offered up advice to the few parents in the audience with their Slippery Rock son or daughter.
“Put the fear of God in your kids,” Pharoah said. “Parents, next time your kid acts up call them ‘nigga.’ They’ll be like, ‘Mom’s gangsta!’” He followed up by telling the students never to call their parents by their first name and jokingly impersonated a student
matter-of-factly referring to their mother as ‘Margret’.
After dropping the “N word,” Pharoah granted the ‘white people’ in the audience a free “nigga” pass while they were in attendance, assuring them it was okay to laugh at the word in his presence.
He also granted a white student with the honor of “official negro” he said, on behalf of the black community.
In response to his personal life, Pharoah regarded himself as being a “butt hole” in school.
“I went to college and started in theater, but I did know I wanted to become a comedian,” he said.
According to Pharaoh, his rise started simply from performing his impressions for family and friends.
“My family would always be like, ‘Do the Crocodile Hunter! Do the Crocodile Hunter!’ And it just made people laugh,” he said.
Pharoah said the trick to really nailing an impression of someone is by simply studying them, yet he joked that friends tell him he can’t impersonate “white people.”
Regarding his work with SNL, specifically his Barack Obama impressions, Pharoah said, “I can’t go anywhere now. I’m there for the next four years!”
Pharoah also briefly spoke about his character in the up and coming movie, “Get A Job,” featuring Anna Kendrick, Alison Brie, Bryan Cranston, and Miles Teller.
“It’s a weird character,” Pharoah said. “He’s a pimp. You have to watch ‘cause it’s gonna be hilarious.”
Pharoah continues performing his impressions for audiences and always enjoys making the crowd laugh.
He was available after his performance for a round of “hamming it up” picture taking with students wanting to meet the comic. Pharoah even commented on one student’s boldness in wearing a Stefon shirt, a comedic flamboyant character from SNL played by Bill Hader.
As for Pharoah’s advice to Slippery Rock students, his advice was blunt.
“Stay in damn school!” he said.