Mandal, a comedian from Atlanta, Ga., visited Lawrence last weekend intent on making his audience laugh, and he left that goal achieved. On Friday, Oct. 4, in the Warch Campus Center Cinema, a crowd gathered to see him. Among the events of Blue and White Weekend, some of which were canceled due to poor weather, Mandal became an appealing event for students and their families to show them the sorts of exciting events that Lawrence has to offer on a weekly basis.
It was apparent that Mandal takes being a comedian just as seriously as one can — his jokes were quick-witted and his punchlines were timely. It was also easy to see that he had a unique way of connecting to a group of college students, especially those in the audience who had also hailed from Atlanta. He empathized with those who had worked at McDonald’s just like he had — spoiler alert: apparently, they freeze their lettuce — and generally seemed to know the kinds of jokes that those he entertained would like. He even posited that middle school kids are always the ones to be mean and angsty, so college students were not even his least favorite demographic of students. He also loudly challenged the idea that there is something inferior about this generation of kids. After all, as he would put it, this generation does not have to learn in school how to stop, drop and roll anymore, since they have collectively figured out how to not be on fire out of the blue!
Mandal also went in depth on stories of when he was younger, taking his mic on and off its stand throughout to more effectively employ the physical comedy of the situations he was in. Particularly riveting was that of the fight between him and “the one other fat kid at a school only big enough for one.” They had punched each other in turn until Mandal realized he could punch more than once in a row, which changed the game. Segueing from one joke into the next with ease, his jokes also revolved around being black and the humorous interactions he had had with white people. The audience all laughed and nodded in agreement when he announced, confusedly, that a woman squeezed past him while he was at the grocery store and said “ope!” as she went. His bits such as this one about the Midwest hit close to home even for those who have lived at Lawrence for a short amount of time.
Throughout his set, he effectively kept the audience engaged in his jokes. By asking for audience members to raise their hands and so he could see where he could pull individuals into the stories he was telling, Mandal made his set more interactive. This made for a more entertaining experience throughout, one where people left contented with the hour they had set aside to see his show. The appeal was that he acknowledged that others in the room were part of the show he was creating. Mandal can be found on Facebook, as well as on Instagram at the handle @themandalman.