Donald Glover is one of the most brilliantly unimposing young talents of our time. As an actor, a stand-up comedian and a rapper, he consistently stands out because of the flawless yet approachable nature with which he delivers all of his performances. So it’s no surprise that his show at RIT’s Gordon Field House on Saturday, Feb. 4 can be summed up as both casual and hilarious.
Glover’s opening act was DC Pierson, his Derrick Comedy co-star. Openers are usually either hit or miss, but Pierson was a bit of a mixed bag. The audience completely ate up his bit about the video game Skyrim, in which he lamented not having enough time to appreciate the world the programmers had worked so hard to create, until he imagined God saying, “Look around, you idiot. I created the real world and you don’t appreciate that either!” But there were other jokes he told during his short performance that ended in complete silence, which, in part, might have been because he was trying to play too heavily to his target audience. The students of RIT are undoubtedly tired of hearing the typical jokes made about techies, and all of Pierson’s bits on that vein fell flat.
But when Glover walked onto the stage, the audience was anything but silent and several people were waving around “Save ‘Community’” signs, referencing his role as ex-football player Troy on the NBC show that currently faces an uncertain fate.
Glover’s first move was to pick up where Pierson’s highest note left off, saying “Guys, I’m gonna be totally honest and say I don’t know anything about Skyrim… I’m too busy fucking girls.” And from there, his show was off. It never slowed its pace, and he kept the attention, loyalty and laughs of the audience for the entire time he was on stage.
While this show was marketed as a chance to see Glover in his capacity as a stand-up comedian, he didn’t exactly stick to that, but it completely worked for him. Instead of feeling like a performance, Glover’s show was akin to hanging out with a friend, albeit a friend who happens to be on stage while you’re 100 feet away from him in a fold up chair. Were it a different comedian performing or an audience of a different demographic, he might not have been able to successfully do a show this way, but, let’s be real, it’s Donald Glover, so of course he could pull it off. At one point he even admitted, “I didn’t really come with any prepared material… I just want to hang with you guys.”
So rather than telling jokes or doing bits, he provided stories that opened a window into the life and times of Donald Glover, and he did it in the most humorous way possible. The audience was in fits after his story about going to Mardi Gras with the cast of “Community,” encountering Reggie Bush — running back of the New Orleans Saints — at a bar, having Bush pay him $100 for his characteristic glasses, using the $100 to get his first lap dance and then accidentally texting Bush about it on the night that Bush lost his Heisman trophy.
In addition to being effortlessly hilarious in story form, Glover also provided an unexpected treat for his audience by whipping out his freestyling prowess and making the whole night seem like a smaller version of his multifaceted IAMDONALDTOUR. When RIT senior Chauncey McFalcon challenged Glover to a freestyle showdown by screaming at him from the back of the gym, he was at first reluctant, but probably because he knew he could blow her out of the water no matter what. And he did.
While another RIT student provided a beatboxing backdrop, Pierson came out from backstage to time each round, and the freestyle battle began. Glover did his rapper persona, Childish Gambino, proud and never faltered for a moment. The same can’t be said for his competitor, though, who, after being so bold as to challenge him, didn’t seem to have anything to freestyle about other than… having nothing to freestyle about. But this ultimately worked to Glover’s benefit by highlighting his skill even more.
By being naturally hilarious without relying on a routine, relating easily to his audience and effortlessly freestyling on the spot, Glover’s appearance on Saturday only accentuated what the audience already knew: He is cool. Cool cool cool.