The sound of laughter filled Packard Laboratory as comedian Preacher Lawson took the stage in a Lehigh sweatshirt.
Hosted by University Productions, the show “Laugh it Up” attracted a large audience of students and community members on March 24.
Lawson, who rose to fame as a 2017 finalist on “America’s Got Talent,” showcased comedy that blends together personal anecdotes, pop culture references and occasional social commentary.
Lawson connected with the audience on a personal level by interacting with the crowd, incorporating their responses and reactions into his jokes.
“Being a comedian is a difficult job, so for Preacher to make an entire auditorium laugh like that, it’s amazing,” audience member Eldisa Rosario, ‘26, said. “His personality was definitely a hit.”
Although Lawson now tours his comedy show globally, he said he wasn’t always confident.
Lawson said as a kid, he was not as popular as many people may expect. He said he was energetic around people he knew, but the idea of being loud and onstage terrified him.
Despite his fears, Lawson said he knew he had a talent for making people laugh.
He was 17 years old when he first started comedy. Lawson said he remembers being so nervous he could barely hold the microphone, but after his first show, he knew comedy was something he enjoyed.
Lawson’s comedy touched on social issues, including comments relating to race and gender.
“You know, you can make some people happy all the time and all people happy sometimes, but you can’t make all people happy all the time,” Lawson said. “I just try to be myself and if myself offends you, then I really can’t help it.”
Bryce Marroquin, ‘24, one of University Productions’ comedy co-directors, said this was the reason they chose Lawson for their comedy event this semester.
He said he felt Lawson’s comedy would resonate with the Lehigh student body.
“What Preacher does, he takes a very progressive stand on these topics and it’s not something where he makes fun of certain groups,” Marroquin said. “Everything he says is very light-hearted and it’s day-to-day, relatable stuff.”
Andy Chung, ‘24, fellow comedy co-director, said Preacher balanced playful banter with addressing important issues in his comedy.
“His art style and ways of thinking is what appeals to college students,” Chung said. “Seeing how big of a success Preacher was, this marks the start of Lehigh bringing more comedy shows (and) events on campus.”
In addition to providing an evening full of laughs, Lawson’s visit also attracted students who hope to pursue entertainment careers of their own.
During the show, a few students expressed their desire to perform, and Lawson provided his contact information to lend a helping hand.
“Some people have told me their lives have changed after a show, and I know it’s changed my life,” Lawson said. “I think everyone has that one person that says something or does something that changes their life, and I’m grateful to be that.”
Lawson said high-profile gigs rarely make him feel anxious. He made a recent appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and announced his European tour to take place June 2023.
“I have nerves, but being on stage, I love it,” Lawson said. “It’s like the craziest rush. (I) just have to remember that they’re coming to see me.”