Comedian Kyle Cease entertains audience with improvised act

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With a website that boasts “one of the most in-demand young comics,” it’s no stretch of the imagination to believe Kyle Cease is the real deal, after learning about his multiple Comedy Central, radio and film appearances. But the real feat lies in entertaining a room full of college students who could all be a million other places on a Friday night, all the while managing to make them forget they’re sitting in a crowded and blistering auditorium.

After three opening acts, comedian Kyle Cease took center stage for a night where nothing seemed to be off-limits. From jokes about drinking and sex, to the funny side of nudity and race, the night was not without frequent F-bombs and plenty of laughter. Cease said his material is almost purely improvisational.  

“There’s no ‘making’ a joke happen,” Cease said. “I just go with my instincts and live in the moment and occasionally bits come up that have gone over well in past shows.”

The night included surprises and plenty of audience interaction in the form of a piano duet with an unsuspecting student and a practical joke involving a certain Maggie Gilmore, who left to use the bathroom and returned to find her group of friends had been relocated.

Cease went on to say no topic is taboo. He believes he has every right to say what he wants, and he believes every audience member has their own set of rules that limit what they consider to be funny.  

“If you always seek someone else’s approval, you become their slave,” Cease said.

Overall, the audience was responsive, applauding and heckling in all the right places. As a seasoned performer, the comedian has visited more than 700 colleges and claims to perform for crowds that are open-minded and intelligent and therefore allow him to be authentic.

“He spoke to us like we were adults and his jokes weren’t run of the mill,” Amy Geske, freshman in pre-vertrinary, said.

After a montage of the night’s events, a roaring standing ovation and the promise of a CD signing, Kyle asked for a few more minutes of the audience’s time.

He began with a simple statement: “My career is not a fluke.” After an evening of dishing out sets, Kyle ended by recalling the journey that left him as the winner of Comedy Central’s 2009 “Stand-Up Showdown” against top guns like Chris Rock and Chelsey Handler.

Beginning at age 12, Kyle was appearing at clubs. He said it came naturally to him, and at such a young age, he never stopped to consider whether he wasn’t old enough or couldn’t succeed. At 15, without the aid of an agent, he began to question how he could create a career from his passion and began making flyers offering to entertain for corporate parties of big name companies like Honda and Sears. He recalled auditioning for a small part in the film “10 Things I Hate About You” with a cheesy grin, and ending up playing a part that took six weeks of filming.

“You can do more than you know,” Cease said. “Because our beliefs create reality, we are scared to step outside our comfort zone.”

You would not have guessed from Friday night’s performance, ending in a standing ovation, that the man on stage performing with such ease ever experienced stage fright. But he told his audience an unexpected story about a man who was once overcome with so much anxiety about his shows that he couldn’t help but visualize himself fainting on stage. After learning to see the world through the eyes of a positive thinker, things began to change for him.

Cease said his thought procesws shifted from “I hope I don’t faint,” to, “What if I had the No. 1 spot on Comedy Central?” In more general terms, he stopped asking himself if he could accomplish his goals and instead began questioning how he could accomplish them. He encouraged the audience to stop taking advice from people who aren’t where they want to be in life and to fantasize a world of success for themselves.

“When I was competing on Comedy Central against 100 other comedians, I didn’t see it as a problem but a test to see how bad I wanted it,” he said.

Students in the audience seemed to receive this message well, and few left their seats even after several hours of entertainment spilled into the wee hours.

“I’ve only seen a few live comedians and I was very impressed,” said Meredith Lindsey, graduate student in theatre. “It takes guts to do that, and I loved that Kyle wasn’t just funny, but he also had a message.”

As the show drew to a close, Cease reminded students that if you ask a question, your mind will find an answer with persistence. He concluded by saying if we stop separating ourselves from success, we start to realize that 99 percent of success is the want, and all the while he cautioned the audience never to think something material will bring happiness.

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