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Monday, November 19, 2018

Activities & Organizations

Buzzfeed star Quinta B. headlines Coog Comedy Showcase


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Buzzfeed star Quinta Brunson’s visit to campus had students packing into the Student Center Theater Thursday night. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

Will somebody bring this girl some Whataburger?

That’s all Buzzfeed comedian and actress Quinta Brunson wanted to try during her first time visiting Texas this week. Brunson headlined Student Program Board’s “Coog Comedy Showcase” Thursday night to a crowd of over 350 students.

“I knew Quinta from Buzzfeed, mostly,” Myles Parnell, Comedy and Speakers Chair for SPB and the person responsible for bringing Brunson to UH said. “I thought she was really, really funny, and then I found out that she does stand up sometimes. I was like, ‘That’s who I want. I have to get her.’”

Brunson, who’s known on Buzzfeed and her social media as Quinta B., writes, directs and acts in Buzzfeed comedy videos, but she’s also known for an Instagram series called “The Girl Who’s Never Been On A Nice Date.” Brunson starred in the comedy showcase, but four other comedians, UH students, took the stage before her.

Brunson spent the first twenty minutes of her set in the Student Center Theater talking about her Houston airport experiences, breaking up with her Uber driver and being “out-minoritied” in her yoga class in Los Angeles.

“Quinta was very personable and very authentic, it wasn’t cheesy. I enjoyed that,” Ahzjah Williams, a college graduate from Houston, said. “Just like she wasn’t expecting as much of the question and answer part, I didn’t expect as much of her comedy, which was nice.”

The second half of Brunson’s set followed an informal question and answer session, and Brunson remarked that she was more prepared for a Q&A, which she expected, than a stand up show.

“I liked listening to another side of her and getting more personal,” mechanical engineering freshman Claire Erickson said. “You could see her in a different way than in her videos. In the videos it’s scripted, they know what they’re saying. This was very personal.”

Even though the audience enjoyed seeing Brunson’s unscripted comedy, she said she prefers her work at Buzzfeed over live shows, and she sees her future in long-form media.

“(Stand up) is so different cause it’s live, and I normally try to talk about what happens to me on the day to day, so there’s a little bit more risk involved,” Brunson said. “I prefer just humoring people. I don’t prefer stand up. I like making scripted content, that’s the thing I love — taking what I might talk about during stand up and turning it into a scripted piece.”

The four UH comedians, Justin Massengale, Chris Pinto, Grace Amaku and Victor Tran, each had 15-minute stand up sets, covering topics like the Satellite’s Smoothie King, the METRO Light Rail, living with parents and breaking up with your weed dealer.

Amaku has been doing stand up since a Residence Halls Association coffeehouse her freshman year.

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Cultural studies junior and stand-up performer Grace Amaku said meeting Brunson and getting her advice was the best part of the night. | Justin Tijerina / The Cougar.

“And I did varsity choir in school. They had a showcase, but before I sang, I did a little excerpt about myself, and that got more from the audience than my beautiful singing,” Amaku said. “I dropped the singing, and I just stuck with longer and longer intros of myself, and then it just evolved into comedy.”

Amaku’s biggest takeaway from the night was some advice she received from Brunson.

“The coolest part was meeting her, talking to her and getting advice from her,” Amaku said. “It really gave me a ton of vision. She told me that I shouldn’t do (stand up) if I’m still in school, which is really smart because I plan to finish my nursing degree and then do comedy.”

Parnell, who began contacting Brunson about coming to perform at UH in June 2015, said the best feedback he received was from Brunson’s Buzzfeed coworkers, who saw the posters advertising “Coog Comedy Showcase” and asked for their own copies.

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Myles Parnell, Comedy and Speakers Chair for SPB, said he started working on getting Brunson to come to campus in June 2015. | Justin Tijerina / The Cougar.

“I jumped up and down with joy and ran around the office a little bit,” Parnell said. “Then I knew it was a big deal and the event was going to go very well. They like our posters. They’ll be in the Buzzfeed office. There’ll be a little piece of UH at Buzzfeed. It makes me really happy.”

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