Convocations' fall series kicks off with 'SNL' comedian

2013110511-04 Jay Pharoh (Lauren Crest)-12
(By: Lauren Crest) Jay Pharoah brought Hayden Chipley up to the stage and joked about adopting him after he thought Chipley sang Tupac lyrics.

“Saturday Night Live” comedian Jay Pharoah entertained Weber State University students and faculty Tuesday, discussing hot topics such as race and politics while making them laughable.

Pharoah is know for a wide array of impressions, including President Barack Obama, Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Stephen A. Smith and Kanye West, which was a highlight for the crowd. Laughter filled the ballroom while he told jokes about topics that would normally be humorless, like bullying, mass shootings, scaring children and domestic violence. Pharaoh engaged the crowd by bringing students on stage and getting the crowd to sing songs with him.

“I thought his show was very funny and entertaining,” said Jeff Henry, vice chair of the student senate and the African-American students senator. “It touched on everything that is happening in society today in terms of racism. He kind of makes you think about it and laugh about it, and from there you want to do something about it. He touched issues that would normally make people heated and basically got away with it in a nice sort of way.”

Alex Pizzo, a WSU freshman who won the opportunity to have lunch with Pharoah after the show, said Pharoah is a personal hero of his and that he was extremely excited for the opportunity to talk to someone who is doing what he ultimately wants to do.

“When he first got on to ‘SNL,’ I just remember watching him do his Will Smith impression, and it was the first time I laughed through the whole episode,” Pizzo said. “It was just the funniest thing. Being able to see him do live standup is just phenomenal. The dude is hilarious.”

This event was the first installment for the WSU Student Association’s Convocations series for fall semester. Convocations are monthly events held to entertain and educate the WSU community.

Thomas Judd, marketing director for WSUSA, said the senate wanted to kick off the series with an exciting speaker whom students would enjoy and would make them want to come back for more.

“We are working so hard as students, especially now that it’s getting close to the end of the semester,” Judd said. “We wanted something that was exciting and to let loose as students. These are the opportunities that students have on campus to make Weber fun and exciting. This is why we create these opportunities, so students can have fun outside the classroom experience.”

The series will continue into spring semester and feature a variety of speakers. WSUSA has already lined up award-winning musician Matthew Curry from Matthew Curry and the Fury for January, and Giancarlo Esposito, aka Gus from critically acclaimed crime drama “Breaking Bad.” WSUSA also hopes to bring Michael Hayden, retired U.S. Air Force four-star general, former director of the National Security Agency and director of the CIA, in March.

“It’s all for the students to make their college experience better, and at the end of the day, it’s not about the performer or events; it’s about making it fun,” said Abelardo Saucedo, Convocations director. “More than fun, we want to make them an educational and informative experience for everyone who attends.”

Students, faculty and staff can find out more details for upcoming Convocations events and other future WSUSA events through the WSUSA Facebook page and its page on the WSU website.

Pharoah wrapped up his performance with a dedication to a special woman in his life who recently died, a woman he said was like a mother to him.

“Cherish and love the ones you’re with,” he said. “When you go to your families, just enjoy them. Take every picture, enjoy every moment, love the people you love and have fun. Have fun with your life, and if you want to do something, do it. Long as you ain’t breakin’ the law, do it.”