Rainy Mirthweek ends in deluge of laughs courtesy Trevor Noah, Tone Bell

Trevor Noah photo by Mike Romer

Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, drew a sold-out crowd to UMSL’s Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center Saturday night for this year’s Mirthweek Comedy Show. (Photos by Mike Romer)

By Sara Bell and Evie Hemphill

Charlotte Kawa spent a good portion of her Saturday evening doubled over in her seat at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

As Trevor Noah recounted his first-ever experience of tacos – which proved an unexpectedly fraught adventure – from the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center’s main stage, she couldn’t stop laughing.

“I was listening, but I was bent down the entire time,” said Kawa, a senior computer science major at UMSL. “It was fantastic.”

Kawa was one of nearly 1,600 people who packed the campus venue April 29 to see the wildly popular host of “The Daily Show” perform. The headliner for this year’s Mirthweek Comedy Show, Noah did not disappoint.

Tone Bell at UMSL

Comedian and actor Tone Bell opened the evening, which was organized by UMSL’s student-driven University Program Board and the Office of Student Involvement.

“I just felt in general that it was really funny,” said sophomore civil engineering major Sydni Jackson, who helped plan the event and was pleased with the outcome of those efforts. “Something like tonight just makes the overall college experience more enjoyable, because you’re not just always being a student – you also get to have fun in the process.”

Stormy weather during the week leading up to the show and downpours throughout the evening didn’t keep the sold-out crowd away – or popular comedian and actor Tone Bell, who flew from California to open for Noah.

“I should have checked the weather,” Bell quipped. “I did not.”

Bell, who stars in the upcoming Netflix series “Disjointed,” touched on everything from haggling over a 27-cent packet of jelly at Dunkin’ Donuts, to his newfound affinity for Perrier Sparkling Water, to what it’s like to have some money at this point in his career.

He went on to extensively qualify that comment, explaining that it doesn’t amount to “gonna-help-you money” but rather to buying “a lot of Klondike bars” and eating a lot of shrimp.

“I don’t have, like, money-money. … I have, like, just-paid-off-my-student-loans money,” Bell said, adding that when his last loan payment of $217 was recently due, he sent in a check for $308.90 out of spite – so that the billing entity would have to send him a check back.

Bell introduced Noah about a half-hour in, and the South African comedian walked on stage to deafening applause – plus a distinctive shout of affection from someone in the crowd.

Trevor Noah at UMSL

Trevor Noah poked fun at everyone from toddlers to Donald Trump over the course of his standup act on campus April 29.

“That’s such a weird American thing – people saying ‘I love you,’” Noah responded as he took the microphone.

His cultural observations were a theme of the show, with Noah poking fun at everything from birthday traditions to language differences and the American penchant for taking perfectly good English words “and giving them whole new meanings.”

He offered a devastating critique of the increasing role of cell phones in people’s lives, comparing the way humans now bend over their phones to the posture of apes. And emojis are a problem too, Noah insisted, offering one of his own recent responses – when a friend’s grandmother died and the friend texted Noah to let him know – as a case in point.

“That was it – I sent a yellow face with a tear,” Noah said.

The bit about his introduction to tacos segued into humor-filled commentary touching on President Donald Trump and attitudes toward immigration that often seem baffling in a country that is in fact made up of immigrants.

“Almost everywhere in America, Americans love tacos,” Noah said. “But for some reason, many people in America hate the bringers of tacos.”

He offered a simple new rule as a suggestion under the current administration: “If you want to hate immigrants, then you should not eat the food of immigrants, simple as that. Nothing – only potatoes. … No flavoring, either.”

The turn toward political laughs didn’t surprise Kawa, who said she loves what Noah has been doing with “The Daily Show” since being at its helm. But she was especially impressed with his version of Trump’s voice.

“I’ve seen his standup before, and he’s a great impersonator, but that was just right on point,” said Kawa.

The new president is “someone who’s gotten into a horrible bind,” said Noah.

“Donald Trump wanted to be president, but Donald Trump never wanted to do president – does that make sense?” he ventured.

But Trump wasn’t the only individual that Noah took issue with during the show. Toddlers drew his ire as well, along with American practices when it comes to dealing with their often-frustrating behavior.

“I like babies, I like children – I hate toddlers,” the comedian said. “They’re just designed to spoil your day.”

For Kiki Arechiga, a UMSL senior double majoring in art and English, that joke was one of her favorite parts of the evening. She’s Mexican and said the cultural differences when it comes to disciplining children resonated with her.

“Even just telling another kid to behave, or something as small as that, is taboo,” Arechiga said. “I just try to flash them with a dirty look or laser-beam eyes. That was my favorite bit.”

Media coverage:
The St. Louis American
St. Louis Post-DispatchThe UMSL Experience

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