"This ain't gonna be shit like SNL."
It surely wasn't.
In 2014, at the age of 47, Leslie Jones became the oldest person to join the Saturday Night Live cast. She skyrocketed from being a stand-up with mixed success to occupying one of comedy's most coveted jobs. But as she began her set Stamp Student Union's Grand Ballroom last Thursday night, it soon became clear that she is so much more than the three letters that often define her.
The show opened with a set from Jon Laster, who immediately took the blame for the performance starting about 30 minutes late. The truth to that confession is up for debate. Regardless, Laster was a near perfect opening act. He warmed up the crowd with a tight, funny, perfectly timed set, before introducing his dear friend Leslie.
Jones may be 6 feet tall, but she exerts a mixture of aggression and confidence that makes her seem even taller. She donned a light floral blouse, which juxtaposed an enormous black sweat rag hanging from her back pocket. In dress alone, Jones told the audience that she was giving them exactly who she was. She's loud, she's pushing 50, she's a little crazy, she may or may not have smoked weed immediately before performing this show, and you're just going to have to deal with it.
Though she stood before hundreds, Jones seemed to be performing just for herself. She cackled after jokes as if hearing them come out of her mouth for the first time, a sort of self-produced laugh track. This could easily have been annoying if done by anyone else, but it was one of the most fun and endearing aspects of the performance. She lived happily inside ridiculous physical bits, be they twerking her way across the stage or pantomiming swinging a lengthy ponytail around her head.
Though the last word of almost every sentence was screamed at a shockingly high decibel, the content of Jones' performance was surprisingly poignant. She discussed the trials involved in ascending to fame at such a quick pace. The comedian wears her "crazy woman" label with pride, and encouraged every other woman in the audience to do so. The world is crazy toward women, so why shouldn't women be crazy?
Jones ended her act by strolling through the crowd, questioning students' relationship statuses and shocking herself at how young the college population was. She was in her element, yelling at the spotlight operator and faux grinding behind a boy who asked for an autograph.
Just as quickly as she had entered the room, she was gone, rolling back up onto the stage and out the door. Her spiky-haired figure was nowhere to be seen, but her cackling laugh was left ringing in our ears.