Award-winning comic inspired by Bill Cosby

Kate Clark

Comedian Jay Black, who will be performing at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20 in Jamrich 103, said one of the things that inspired him to begin doing comedy was an HBO stand-up called “Bill Cosby: Himself,” which he saw when he was six.

Jay Black has performed at nearly 500 colleges and earned the APCA’s 2013 College Comedian and College Performer of the Year. (Photo courtesy of Jay Black)
Jay Black has performed at nearly 500 colleges and earned the APCA’s 2013 College Comedian and College Performer of the Year.
(Photo courtesy of Jay Black)

“I had never laughed so hard in my life and it was just a man talking,” Black said. “I didn’t know what he was doing, exactly, but I decided at that moment whatever it was, I wanted to do it too.

“It didn’t hurt, either, that my father watched with me and laughed just as hard as I did. I had never seen my father laugh like that and in my six-year-old narcissistic mind, I wanted to be the one who made him laugh.  One of the highlights of my career was getting to have my father come see me headline in Atlantic City the year before he died.”

Black, who was a high school teacher for seven years, changed career paths once he began making more money in stand-up than in teaching.

“How many people do you know get to make money doing the exact thing they always wanted to do when they were six years old?” Black said. “It was too much of a gift from whatever gods or goddesses you may or may not believe in, being politically correct here, to turn it down. You don’t get too many opportunities to literally live your dream, so I had to.”

Black’s stand-up style is mainly light and friendly, he said.

“I talk about things that I see around me: my family, my observations, my ideas, etc. So basically, my set is everything I saw and thought about in the last year condensed down to a bunch of funny jokes,” Black said.

At his shows, Black said he avoids targeting the audience and promises that those considering going should not be afraid to sit close to the stage.

“I know a lot of people have an idea that comedians will make fun of the audience and make them feel uncomfortable, but I’m not that kind of comic,” Black said.

Primetime Productions (PTP), which is hosting the event, is a Housing and Residence Life organization that brings acts to campus in order to build a stronger community and offer an alternative to drinking, said member Chip Neuman, a junior fisheries and wildlife management major.

“Being a part of PTP also gives a great chance to meet new people and performers and is a great way to learn the ins and outs of event planning and working with acts,” Neuman said. “I became involved with PTP to get myself involved on a larger campus level then just my hall and house. Primetime gave me that chance by organizing new events for everyone on campus to be a part of.”

Neuman said every year the group receives requests to bring more comedic acts to campus.

“Jay has a variety of styles, he has performed for many different causes and events so he has jokes for all ages,” Neuman said.

In 2013, the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities named him both the College Comedian of the Year and, the even more prestigious, College Performer of the Year, he said.

“So we will be getting a great show,” Neuman said.

Admission is free.