Published Oct 01, 2017Known for his six-year tenure on Saturday Night Live, Jay Pharoah has undeniably made it in comedy. Having said that, he's now at a turning point in his career: will SNL be the thing that launched him, or will it be his golden era? In his show at JFL42, Pharoah proved that he's not going to be disappearing into obscurity anytime soon. With impressions fans know and love embedded in new, equally energetic standup, Pharoah made the packed crowd at Queen Elizabeth Theatre laugh, stare in awe at his mimicry, and rise to their feet for a standing ovation.
Before Jay Pharoah took the stage, Gina Yashere started off the show by joking about her mother's decision to emigrate from Nigeria to England, as well as her own journey from London to Brooklyn. Her delivery had a fantastic cadence that used a lovely balance of fits of energy as well as long pauses, plus her writing was solidly relatable.
During his performance, Pharoah tucked each of his impersonations smoothly into a story. His insane trip on six doses of molly peaked with him freaking out as if he was Kevin Hart. His bit about how he plans to have kids in a third world country to save money segued into a discussion he had with Tracy Morgan. His story about meeting Obama at the White House predictably featured him re-enacting a conversation he had with the former president. Aside from one lackluster but brief impersonation of Louis C.K. hanging out backstage at SNL 40, every impression was mesmerizingly comical and dead-on.
Having said that, Pharoah's performance didn't just feel like a run-through of all his best characters. The way he mocked the Justin Bieber song "Where Are Ü Now" and screamed the high part of the chorus was wildly funny, plus his story about worrying that the bidet of a Japanese toilet gave him an orgasm was also great.