Comic Showcases Versatility with Debut EP, New Standup Material

Jay Pharoah will perform for two nights at The Grove Comedy Club in Lowell.

Comedian Jay Pharoah

Jay Pharoah is a multitalented artist who’s managed to stay incredibly busy during the pandemic working as an actor, comedian and musician. Best known for his impressions of celebrities like Denzel Washington, Will Smith and President Barack Obama, the 34-year-old was a cast member on Saturday Night Live for six seasons. He’ll be performing at The Grove Comedy Club in Lowell this weekend.

“I never want to be put in a box and any way I can show people versatility…anytime I get a chance to show that, I really appreciate it,” Pharoah says.

The comedian got a chance to flex his impression skills and his rapping muscles on his newest project. On Oct. 14, Pharaoh celebrated his birthday and the release of his first EP Spittin Image. All of the tracks, which were written by Pharoah and produced by Andrew Hypes, are a mix of the musician rapping as himself as well as other rappers like 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Drake, Jay-Z and T.I.

Pharoah has been spitting rhymes since he was 13 years old and while he’s dropped freestyles as well as a project in 2014, he says this is the first one that has included all visuals in the form of music videos

“I think it came out really dope so I just want people to check it out,” he says. “Once they see it, they’ll really like it because it’s really creative.”

During the last year, Pharoah has been showcasing his acting chops by participating in a variety of television and film projects. In addition to serving as the host of Unfiltered on Nickelodeon, he’s acted in movies like 2 Minutes of Fame and All My Life. Most recently, he starred alongside Christina Milian in Netflix’s Resort to Love. The romantic comedy gave Pharaoh, who started doing theatre at the age of 8, the chance to show off some of his dramatic acting skills.

“I started in drama before I started in comedy. Drama was the gateway for me to do comedy because I didn’t have all that fear and that stage presence was there,” he says. “Whenever I get to flex those muscles it feels really good because it surprises people.”

Pharoah has also continued to work on his standup during the pandemic, which has provided him with plenty of new material. As a comedian, you get used to being on the road and doing the same thing over and over again, he said. It becomes routine, but the pandemic afforded Pharoah the chance to sit down with himself and be settled. Being forced to sit with your thoughts can help you see a subject from a different perspective, he said. 

“I wrote so much material during the pandemic that I have been using on stage and it’s a different energy now,” he said. “It felt great before, but now it feels like it’s an explosion.”

Audiences can hear some of that new material when Pharoah performs Oct. 22-23 at The Grove Comedy Club in Lowell. Tickets are available here

As for what comes next, Pharoah doesn’t know what that is yet, but he’s excited about the potential, saying he’d love to break into the Marvel or DC Comics universe. Whatever his next project is, he’s staying focused on always doing something different and elevating his brand.

“It’s all about being multifaceted and it’s all about having fun at the end of the day,” Pharoah says. “And if you’re good, you’re good. It don’t matter what you do.”

More information about Jay Pharoah’s projects is available at www.jaypharoahworld.com.

Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is Editor-in-Chief of Arkansas Soul, the host of the Affirmative Action podcast and a Northwest Arkansas-based journalist. She has covered race, culture, politics, health, education and the arts in Arkansas for nearly 15 years.

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