Punchlines punch Mamawala’s ticket to Atlantic City

Stand-up comedy. As soon as you read those words, a list of famous names started to compile itself in your head. Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Adam Mamawala.

Wait a minute, Adam Mamawala? Who the hell is that guy?

Mamawala, sophomore communication studies major, has the chance to creep one step closer to that illustrious list when he performs at the Catch A Rising Star comedy club on Dec. 2. Mamawala recently competed in Catch A Rising Star’s Comedy Challenge here at the College, performing well enough to warrant a spot at the Atlantic City club that has been visited by many of comedy’s best and brightest.

In a recent interview with The Signal, Mamawala discussed how he got into stand-up, what he plans to do after college and how he is preparing for Atlantic City.

Most comedians swear that they aren’t actually funny. If you take the time to listen to the commentary on just about any stand-up comedian’s DVD, you’ll hear them say that the only difference between them and us is that they write things down.

Mamawala concurred with these sentiments, claiming that he was never “the funny guy.”

“I’m still surprised when people see me perform and come up to me after the show and say, ‘I didn’t know you were funny,'” Mamawala said. “People think of funny situations every day; they just never take the time to write it down. To be successful at stand-up comedy . you have to have solid material, but (you must also) be able to deliver it flawlessly. One quality without the other will get you nowhere.”

Mamawala swears that he never planned to get into stand-up. He said that the whole idea came into his head at a Nets game, when he started noticing some things at the game that were amusing. He developed his routine from there and tried his hand at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick a couple of weeks later. The warm response from the crowd convinced Mamawala to pursue stand-up as a hobby.

With jokes ranging from sports fans’ criticism of the singing of the national anthem to his sister’s shower habits to the College’s favorite whipping boy, Eickhoff Hall, Mamawala has developed what he hopes is a truly original routine.

“From people I’ve talked to, I remind them most of Dane Cook, just with my style of delivery,” Mamawala said. “However, when I’m on stage, I want to remind people of Adam Mamawala, if that makes any sense.”

While Mamawala seems to have a scope and vision for the world of stand-up, he is relatively inexperienced in the limelight. His performance at the Catch A Rising Star qualifier was only the fourth performance of his brief career.

“For whatever reason, I normally don’t get nervous before I go on stage, but (at the comedy challenge) I kept thinking about how much I wanted to go to Atlantic City,” Mamawala said. “My routine was going alright, but in the middle of it I froze up for what seemed like an eternity, but was in actuality more like five or six seconds.”

“This happened during my bit on bad days,” continued Mamawala. “And I would have loved to have said, ‘Sometimes when you’re having a bad day, you’ll be doing a comedy show and completely forget what the hell you’re talking about!'”

If Mamawala wins the Atlantic City competition this Saturday, his next performance will be at another Catch A Rising Star club, only this time he will be paid to test his mettle against the audience. Despite the surprising success of his young career, Mamawala doesn’t see stand-up panning out as a career.

“As of right now, stand-up is more of a hobby for me, and while I do think I’m funny, it is extremely difficult to become successful as a comic,” Mamawala said. “After college I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I’d hope to work in public relations or marketing for some type of company or ideally a sports team.”

On Saturday, Mamawala’s “rising star” will either burn brighter than ever or flicker out disappointingly early. While this thought might terrify some young artists, Mamawala is excited by the challenge.

“From never having done stand-up a year ago to having this kind of opportunity is pretty unbelievable,” Mamawala said. “At this point, I’m just honing my material and telling myself to stay calm. When I get on that stage it could be a completely different story, but I’m hoping everything goes well. Win or lose, it’s a terrific opportunity.”