jay pharaoh

Comedian Jay Pharaoh performs Friday the Great Hall of the Memorial Union for Iowa State's WinterFest.

Comedian, actor and impressionist Jay Pharaoh brought a night full of non-stop laughs to the Memorial Union’s Great Hall as a part of Iowa State University’s WinterFest celebration Friday night.

Pharaoh is best known for his six-season tenure on “Saturday Night Live” from 2010 to 2016. During his run, he was recognized for his critically-acclaimed performances and impressions, including President Barack Obama during his time in office.

Rolling Stone named Pharaoh the 55th greatest “Saturday Night Live” cast member, calling him the “The Jimmy Fallon of 2 Chainz impressions.” In addition, the comedian also released the 2015 standup special “Jay Pharoah: Can I Be Me?” and appeared in films like “Top Five” and “Ride Along."

Preceding Pharaoh’s set was AJ Foster, a stand-up comedian who’s performed on shows like “Gotham City Live” and “Laughs.” Foster joked that nobody came to see him and he’s like an “unskippable YouTube ad.”

Despite this, Foster performed a stellar set, joking about getting to Iowa, his own experiences throughout college and his family life. While the comedian said his job was to warm up the audience, Foster has no trouble quickly getting viewers to laugh until they almost fall out of their seats. 

Pharaoh then took the stage and the audience was quickly blown away with his high level of energy. From the beginning, the comedian was telling jokes faster than a rapper could rap and was constantly moving from one side of the stage to the other.

This resonated with the audience, and throughout the entire show, it was safe to say there was nobody who would be able to sit still even for a few seconds. There was no doubt in the room that his stage presence is unrivaled.

Performing for an audience of Iowa State students and the general public, the comedian was able to fill up a lot of the Great Hall while still giving the show an intimate feel.

The audience was able to experience some of Pharaoh’s most iconic impressions, including President Obama, Kevin Hart and Kanye West, all of which received applause. On top of this, the comedian did an outstanding job making spot-on sound effects and new impressions like President Trump. 

No topic was off-limits for Pharaoh, and his unique way of storytelling and observation would have allowed him to perform for hours if he wanted to. Whether it was talking about going to a party with Drake or talking about elementary school, the comedian managed to make the content funny.

Above this material, however, is where Pharaoh truly shined. Throughout the show, the audience was applauding him for his amazing crowd work. From calling out people for clapping at the wrong times to asking a girl if he could have a hug only to be rejected, viewers of Pharaoh were laughing to the point of coughing from this unique and hilarious experience. 

Pharaoh’s set was truly one-of-a-kind and he is definitely not to be missed if he returns to the area.

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