Donald Glover prefaced his 65-minute set last night at Gaston Hall with a disclaimer: “Who’s seen my show Community?” he asked the audience. “This will be nothing like that. I talk about my dick a lot more.”
This proved to be half true—he talked about his dick a decent amount. But if you know Glover best from his role as Troy on Community, a lot about his set was familiar. Glover’s character is known for his silly, nerdy antics with best friend Abed, and above all its his child-like quality that endears him to viewers (one of the funniest scenes of the series shows him paralyzed in awe upon meeting his idol, Levar Burton of Reading Rainbow). It’s no surprise, then, that large portion of Glover’s very funny material was about childhood, kids, and growing up. Yes, there were dick jokes, but if Community weren’t a network show, I bet Troy and Abed would talk about their dicks all the time.
In front of a
nearly sold-out crowd, Glover started off with a few spot-on campus observations: “Georgetown has its ‘white guys looking like white guys’ game on LOCK.” He went on to tell a few stories about show biz, like the time he was rumored to be in the running to play Spiderman. And with this material, Glover proved that although he’s better known for his TV and YouTube work, as well as his hip-hop efforts as Childish Gambino, he is a very polished stand-up comic.
About 20 minutes into the set, his wireless mic stopped working. As Georgetown Program Board members tried to get it back on, he did about 10 minutes of material without the sound system. And although I can’t speak for those in the balcony, people pretty far back on the floor level heard him just fine. And even though he had to project more, the technical difficulty actually improved his delivery, as he got a chance to showcase his talent for physical comedy.
Much of Glover’s material draws on his youth, especially growing up with his brothers in a family that often played host to one or more foster children. There were also plenty of appeals to twenty-something nostalgia aimed at his college audience. He did some edgier bits as well, on topics like the n-word and male on male rape (sound familiar?). They were tasteful, but more importantly, they were funny.
So no, his material wasn’t especially inventive. But he got consistent laughs from the audience, and there were a couple that really brought the house down. Like any good performer, he was engaging even when he wasn’t making us laugh. With his toes dipped in so many different areas of show business, stand-up is one Donald Glover should continue to focus on.
Photo by Max Blodgett.