When Buzz Sutherland walked on the stage of the Lory Student Center theater nobody in the small crowd, including Sutherland, knew what to expect of the 16-time recipient of Comedian of the Year by the National Association of Campus Activities.
“I usually work really, really clean,” Sutherland, a married father of three said after the show. “But I could tell that there were people here that wanted to see.not too clean.”
By the end of the show, the sparsely populated theater had been filled with laughter at everything from Forrest Gump impressions to “the duck job” – an impression of an excited duck that Sutherland said has been one of the most sent audio files on the Internet.
Touring college campuses for more than 20 years, Sutherland, whose real name is Jeff, geared his show toward his audience with references to popular TV shows, music and, of course, drinking.
“Top three problems on a college campus: Drinking, parking, and drinking and parking,” Sutherland said jokingly.
Among the jokes that went over best were Sutherland’s impressions.
“All I do all day is have the cast of ‘King of the Hill’ sing Bible hymns in my head,” he said before breaking into song.
Along with singing in various versions of southern accents, the Georgia native also incorporated background music into his show.
At one point, he introduced the audience to his hand (think of a sock puppet minus the sock) and then did a duet with his sockless puppet hand to the Black Eyed Peas’ song, “Shut up,” bringing on a roar of laughter.
Later, commenting on the iPod and technology trend, Sutherland asked everyone in the room to hold up their cell phones and wave them back and forth, creating a sea of fluorescent lights reminiscent of a rock concert.
“Everybody’s got some music on their iPod they don’t want you to know about,” he said before leading the crowd in a rendition of the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way.”
Perhaps the best-received part of the show was when Sutherland randomly began picking on three students sitting in the front row.
“Don’t put your little coat up like you’re a little bitch,” he said to senior Brian Keever who, along with his two friends, freshmen Steven Jewell and Keegan Hill were the only people sitting in the front.
When Sutherland asked if anybody liked to dance, Jewell mentioned falling off of a stage while break dancing, giving the comedian just the shot he needed.
“Don’t ever jump off of anything when you’re tragically Caucasian like you are,” Sutherland said before calling Jewell and Hill onstage for a dance lesson.
“Act confused, act like you’re riding a horse and then act like there’s a total gravitational pull of your arms,” Sutherland instructed them as he demonstrated.
The boys welcomed the attention.
“We sat in the front row so we’d get picked on,” Hill, whom Sutherland called Cupcake, said after the show.
“I feel kinda insulted that he slapped my ass with his belt though,” Jewell said of the dancing.
Throughout the show, Sutherland continuously pointed out how few people were in the audience, saying once, “Look, I don’t want to be here either, OK.”
Junior Darren Orr said he only saw one poster advertising for the show and was curious about the comedian.
“I walk through campus all the time,” he said. “But I only saw it in one building. It probably would have been a big turn out.”
Sutherland didn’t seem to mind the small turnout though.
“I don’t have an ego at all,” he said after the show. “I enjoy the privacy of being able to go to Pizza Hut with my wife.”
As the show came to an end, Sutherland thanked ASAP, who sponsored the event and reminded students that although he had begun the night with a joke about drunk driving, he was not condoning such behavior.
“I’m not telling you not to go out and party,” he said. “But do not drink and drive.”
After all was said and done, Sutherland relaxed backstage, still cracking jokes as he waited to do an interview with CTV.
“I still feel like I’m 18 years old,” he said. “You’re as old as you think you are.”
Assistant news editor Marissa Hutton-Gavel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out Buzz Sutherland’s famous “duck job” and footage from previous shows on at Myspace.com/buzzsutherland and buzzsutherland.com