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Mace and Crown | May 20, 2018

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Jay Pharaoh Rocks The NorVa With Laughter

Jay Pharaoh Rocks The NorVa With Laughter
George Plank
Staff Writer

The audience at The NorVa erupted with a mixture of laughter and pained groans on Jan. 30 with Saturday Night Live cast member, Jay Pharaoh.

“Buckle up. It’s going to get worse,” Pharaoh said early in the evening, giving the audience a taste of what to expect.

The NorVa was an interesting choice for a comedy show. The interior bears a mismatched, warehouse aesthetic equipped with a chandelier and a fully stocked bar.

Fold-out chairs were lined in rows and those seats were sold early to those willing to pay a little more. A general admission ticket meant standing, either on the ground floor or on the balcony, for the whole show.

The show was titled the “Jay Pharaoh Homecoming Experience” by the live disc jockey that preceded the comedian. Pharaoh grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia and attended Indian River High School.

Pharaoh has playfully mocked his roots in SNL skits in the past; most notable is his depiction of the principal of Booker T. Washington High School, Daniel Frye, on a field trip to the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk, Virginia.

James Frye, Pharaoh’s actual principal and inspiration for the character, was the one who eventually introduced the comedian, but not before claiming that he, “taught Jay everything he knows.”

Pharaoh’s choice of words remained colorful throughout his performance. He worked hard to earn the 18+ requirement to enter The NorVa. He never shied away from f-bombs, s-words and even the occasional n-word. He also showed no regard for possibly offending audience members.

No topic was off limits, from the Bill Cosby allegations to Caitlyn Jenner as he said, “Shout out to Bruce Jenner… It took a lot of balls to do what he did.”

Jay Pharaoh

Jay Pharaoh performing at the NorVa on Saturday, January 30. Photo by Shamon Jones.

Naturally the audience reacted negatively to some of his material, but he was always ready with a snappy comeback and a quick transition back into the set.

When some members of the audience groaned at the mention of Bill Cosby, Pharaoh shot back, “Is he here? I don’t see a problem.” Immediately, the audience was back on his side and ready for whatever was going to come next.

Jay proved to be a talented impressionist. Time and time again during the show, he demonstrated versatility in his vocal prowess. He did impressions of fellow comedians, Kevin Hart, Katt Williams and Eddie Murphy. He also included impersonations of hip-hop moguls Jay Z and Kanye West along with political candidate Ben Carson and others.

In character, he recounted the time he had the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama and how Obama had tried to correct Pharaoh’s impression of him.

“You play me too straight. I like to have fun from time to time. Turn up, bitch,” Obama said to Pharaoh as he relished in telling the audience.

After the show there was a photo-op available to anyone who was willing to wait just a bit longer to brave the crowd also trying to get a photo with Jay.

Fans responded incredibly throughout the evening. It seems wherever Jay Pharaoh goes, or whatever he decides to do, there will be a following of people there to see it happen. Chalk it up as another funny night for a very funny man.