For the first-place winner of Catch a Rising Star’s College Comedy Competition, having a sense of humor is an obvious requisite. Vegas Lancaster, sophomore philosophy major, recently proved that he is worthy of the big prize.
Lancaster arrived for his interview with The Signal accompanied by a friend who was dressed in a suit and tie with an earpiece and dark sunglasses.
“He’s my personal bodyguard,” Lancaster said. “He comes with me everywhere.”
After winning Catch a Rising Star’s College Comedy Competition this past December, Lancaster might need the protection.
“Right after the competition, newspapers wanted to talk to me and I took publicity photos for the club,” Lancaster said. “Then I went out to eat at the Hard Rock Caf? and strangers who saw the show came over and congratulated me. I felt like a genuine celebrity.”
For winning the Atlantic City competition, Lancaster was given the opportunity to perform at Catch a Rising Star’s Princeton club on Friday, March 30 for two special performances.
He will be the opening act for featured comedians Eddie Clark and Will Vought.
In a press release by Catch a Rising Star CEO Craig Neir, he said, “Vegas truly proved that he was a crowd-pleaser. His standup routine definitely got the attention of the judges. He is on the road to becoming the next great comedian.”
Lancaster described the experience of the competition as “wild.”
“It was like the high of my life. I was up against 11 or 12 really funny college kids from all over New Jersey. I had confidence, but at the same time I felt sick and queasy right up until the end.”
Lancaster’s comedy is a self-described mix of nonsense, politics, science and plays on words.
“When I perform, I’m very high energy and loud,” Lancaster said. “I try to inject a lot of excitement into my routine.”
Like most writers, Lancaster has experienced writer’s block when crafting his material.
“Sometimes, I’ll lie in bed and try to think and nothing will come of it. Occasionally, you’ll get into a groove,” he said. “It only happens occasionally but when it does, you think, ‘That was cool.’ Although, sometimes you think, ‘Wow, that sucks, I’ll never produce anything.'”
As far as comedic inspiration, Lancaster cites comedian Lewis Black as his No. 1 influence.
“It’s his angry, yelling, pacing, red-in-the-face style that has influenced me,” Lancaster said. “His political humor is fun stuff,” he said. “Pointing out the absurdity in the stuff that runs our lives is probably for the best. I’ve tried to work that into my own routine.”
Catch a Rising Star is known for producing a list of well-known comedic alumni including Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Rosie O’Donnell, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Maher, Ray Romano, Jon Lovitz, Chris Rock and Bob Saget.
When asked if he desired fame, Lancaster said “everyone in our generation wants to be famous.”
“Maybe it’s an exaggeration,” he continued, “but I recently saw a poll of people our age which said that what they wanted most out of their lives is to be rich and famous. In some ways I think that’s a red herring of life, trying to attain fame, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want it.”
Lancaster would love to have a fruitful career in comedy, but at the moment he is content with studying philosophy.
“Right now, I’m taking classes that I enjoy, even though I’ll probably end up working at Sears,” he said.
Other than Atlantic City, Lancaster has performed his comedy at events at the College as well as performing at other venues with the College’s improvisational comedy troupe, Mixed Signals.
“Performing with the Mixed Signals is the most fun I have at college,” Lancaster said. “Standup is great, but there is something even more exciting about improvisation. You can’t take your work and fine tune it. It’s like doing trapeze without a safety net. Also, you’re working with a group of funny and talented people which makes it even more fun.”
For his upcoming Princeton show, Lancaster says that he hopes it goes well, but what it all comes down to is making people laugh.
“Laughter seems to heal sick people and make people’s days better,” he said. “I’m making people’s lives better through comedy which is fantastic. It feels really good.”
The showtimes are 8 and 10:30 p.m. on March 30 and reservations are recommended. The show is for ages 18 and over and costs $17.50 per ticket. Call (609) 987-8018 or go to catcharisingstar.com for tickets and more information.