Young comedian laughs off travel dilemma

Although audience members had to wait for over an hour, Friday’s comedy show was better late than never.

Comedian Jermaine Fowler’s free performance in the Grand Maple Ballroom was originally set to start at 7 p.m. Fowler’s arrival was delayed after he missed his flight from New York to Burlington and ended up having to drive about 300-miles to make it to the show.

The show was part of his most recent tour around the country, which comes to a close later this month at the 202 Comedy Festival in his native Washington D.C., according to his website.

Fowler was chosen for the annual April Fool’s event by the University Program Board’s committee for Comedy, Speakers and Education.

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“We decided Jermaine would be an awesome rising comedian that we’d love to see on UVM’s campus,” said junior Tim Cece, a committee member. 

Cece said Fowler decided to drive after missing his flight because someone told him the trip was only three hours.

“Much to his dismay, six hours later he was here and looking for a Red Bull,” he said.

Despite the delay, senior Isaac de La Bruere said the show was original and engaging.

“His jokes were original and hilarious,” de La Bruere said. “Right from the beginning it was easy to see he was a genuinely funny guy.”

The 27-year-old comic said he began performing stand-up when he was a senior in high school, after watching Eddie Murphy’s special, “Raw.”

“I got into comedy in 12th grade,” Fowler said. “I was always funny in school, since elementary school, but I always got in trouble. I always just terrorized substitute teachers, so that’s kinda how I knew I was funny.”

However, Fowler said he was far from successful at the start.

“We had this talent show in the cafeteria after school,” he said. “I did it one time and bombed real bad; the judges hated me. They were all female judges and they hated my jokes, because they were fucked up. They were just about period commercials and stuff.”

Fowler said his material consists mainly of true events in his life, which he embellishes for comedic effect.

At Friday’s show, Fowler told a story of going to Whoopi Goldberg’s house where he got to hold her Oscar, which is true, but then added that she forced him to watch “The Color Purple” with her.

“There are embellishments of course,” Fowler said, “that’s the comedy.”

Fowler said it took some time to mature as a comic, something that happened after six months of doing stand-up.

“As a kid, I didn’t really have any filter,” Fowler said. “You know, when you’re 17 or 18, you just don’t have any filter. So I was just, like, speaking my mind and didn’t understand why they didn’t like me.”

He said encouragement from his friends was the thing that kept him pursuing his dream.

“Had my friends not said that was the funniest thing they’ve ever seen,” Fowler said, “I wouldn’t have kept doing it.”

He said he considered many occupations before he became a comedian, including teaching, botany and even working in a museum.

“If I had to go back, I would still choose this one,” Fowler said. “This is the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do. On paper, people think this is a pipe dream, but to me this was something that I knew would work out.”