Performances rock homecoming opening night


The stadium was packed as the audience sang along to the melodies of Chrisette Michele and roared with laughter from the comedians’ antics. Fraternities and sororities strolled in the aisles and students danced to the most recent hit songs as the spotlight circled around the gym. Rattler spirit was evident with the first big homecoming event of the year.

Singers, rappers and dancers graced the stage for the talent portion of the show, but the performances of Chrisette Michele and the comedians drew the best reaction from the crowd. Actor and comedian Tony Roberts teased the audience with his funny and, at times, vulgar, jokes. Roberts, recipient of BET’s Robin Harris Award for Most Original Comic and has appeared on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam.”

“A lot of people want to do things but they’re afraid of what their friends are going to say,” Roberts said. “A lot of young people will stop their dreams because of peer pressure. Whatever you want to do, do it now. Don’t even wait until tomorrow.”

Tnijah Smith, 20, a third-year political science student from Heidelberg, Germany, said it was authentic performances like Roberts’ that improved the overall show.

“It was better than it was last year,” Smith said. “The talent was better; the comedians were funny. I liked it overall.”

For Smith, the best part of the show was actress and comedian CoCoa Brown. Known for her appearances on hit shows such as BET’s “Comic View,” and “Comedy TKO” on Showtime at the Apollo, Brown said she enjoys performing at HBCUs.

“I love it. It’s the love,” Brown said. “It gives me a great sense of pride watching all my young brothers and sisters getting educated.”

Brown left the crowd in pain from laughter with her over-the-top body gestures and facial expressions. As Brown recited Shakespeare in her act, with a twist of her own, it was evident of Brown’s educated background. Brown has a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in mass communications.

“It allows me to further develop my material so I can appeal to those in the hood as well as those in the board room,” Brown said. “I think education is very crucial to your comedy. You want to be able to write from an intelligent place [so that] it’s easy to dumb it down. The key is, can you get in front of a corporate crowd and do the same thing.”

For performers who are discouraged because of negative crowd reactions, Brown has some advice she received from the late Richard Pryor.

“He told me you’re not funny until you make the right white person laugh,” Brown said. “Remember that and you’ll go far, because they’re the ones who sign the checks anyway.”

Roberts has some different advice. “Hit’ em, hit ‘em and get out of there,” Roberts said. “But if they start waving on me, I’ma wave with ‘em. I’m not just gonna let them wave me; I’ma wave them.”