Jaboukie Young-White Performs Imperfect, but Authentic Comedy in Isla Vista

Illustration by Esther Liu | The Bottom Line

Kyle Dent

Comedian Jaboukie Young-White performed at I.V. Theater last Thursday night to a thrilled crowd of students. Though lacking some punch, Young-White still delivered a solid comedy set, complete with his own performative flair.

Young-White only started performing a few years ago, but quickly rose through the stand-up comedy ranks, building up to finalist positions in stand-up festivals, like the 2016 NYC Devil Cup. The next year, Young-White took on writing jobs on the acclaimed Netflix shows “American Vandal” and “Big Mouth.” In 2017, he was featured in both Vulture and Rolling Stones’s lists of up-and-coming young comedians.

The I.V. show was sold-out, and the line to enter went around the street corner. After stellar opening acts by UCSB alumnus Matthew Duckett and Moses Storm, who has appeared on “Conan” and “The Jim Jefferies Show”, Young-White took the stage.

He ran up onto the stage, turning on a PowerPoint behind him with the title “What is Male Feminism?” Here, he played a character named Chad, stating all the ways “men can help support women’s rights better than they can.”

While the jokes felt a tad stale — bits of this nature have just been done to death — the visual aids made the performance feel surprisingly unique, and the interplay between the ridiculous images and Young-White’s character was hilarious.

In fact, he used PowerPoints multiple times throughout the show, and in one, he gave a “lecture” on which bugs are gay. “How do I know they’re gay?” Young-White asked us. “Because I fucked them all.”

He then dropped the character, describing his rise through the comedy world, living in L.A. for a period and doing yoga (which he equated to a “slow Electric Slide for white people.”)

He expanded on his experience living in a four-bedroom apartment with twice as many people, coming out to his parents, and conning his way out of getting robbed by, according to him, “being as annoying as possible.”

Each story was unique and full of good humor, but I couldn’t help but feel like I had heard some of these jokes before — or at least, something similar. Many of the punchlines felt like they were all leading to the same place, and towards the end of the show I noticed I could guess how he would finish each bit.

Samantha Alvarado, a second-year English major had similar feelings. “He was really funny, but, for a bit, his performance felt kinda like … scrolling through Twitter,” Alvarado said in an interview with The Bottom Line. She went on, “I actually like the second opener better.”

However, Jaboukie spoke with such candor about growing up black, queer, and from Chicago’s South Side that the similarity of the jokes really didn’t matter. The comedy came from a place of authenticity, and never felt forced or truly scripted; he was speaking his truth while making us laugh.

Mario Moreno, a second-year sociology major enjoyed the performance for these qualities. In an interview with The Bottom Line, she said, “I loved it! It was nice seeing someone [perform] who isn’t just a white dude from L.A..”

Overall, Young-White produced a lot of laughs, even though at some points the jokes were slightly predictable.

For more of him, fans can watch “The Daily Show” where he acts as a correspondent alongside Trevor Noah. For more stand-up comedy, UCSB students can visit Embarcadero Hall every Saturday for free comedy with Laughology.