RYAN FLYNN — General Assignment Reporter
Two comedians on the rise performed at the Lyman Center this past week. Michael Kosta, a former tennis player turned comedian was the headliner and 23-year-old up-and-comer Jermaine Fowler opened for him.
Both men entertained the Lyman crowd and both did their fair share of interacting with those in attendance.
“I always tell people who ask me about my show; I really like to interact with the crowd,” Kosta said. “I like to get to know who I’m performing for and normally it goes well. It doesn’t always.”
Kosta entered the stage with guns blazing—literally.
He formed guns with his fingers, pointing out the most attractive girls in the crowd with his “hot girl gun.” He also found a group of girls he liked and made a machinegun noise.
That’s my threesome gun, Kosta said.
Kosta, who has a Comedy Central stand-up special and also appears on Chelsea Lately from time to time, focused a lot on his family life during his act.
His brother, who tormented him throughout his youth, according to Kosta, once called him ‘Mickle’ instead of Michael. This then turned into ‘Pickle,’ which Kosta said that his parents still call him to this day. He touched on other subjects as well.
“I went on a date with a girl in a wheelchair recently,” Kosta said. “I stood her up.”
The comedian took on a very rare career arc, switching from professional tennis to comedy. Kosta played four years of tennis at the University of Illinois and helped his school win four Big Ten titles before going pro. At his peak, Kosta was ranked in the low 700’s in the world, but admitted faux angrily that he had never played at Wimbledon.
“It’s a question I get asked a lot, how I went from tennis to comedy,” Kosta said. “I was playing tennis and then I was offered a coaching job at University of Michigan. And when I was coaching I was finally in like one city for once; I wasn’t traveling so much. And by being in a city consistently I was able to get into the open mic scene. I always loved comedy, I did a bunch of open mics and that just made me think ‘oh my god, if this ever took off, I’d much prefer this than tennis’. And it started to pick up a little bit so I said good-bye to tennis.”
Prior to Kosta’s act, fellow comedian Jermaine Fowler took the stage, clad in the gold scorpion jacket from the recent Ryan Gosling film Drive.
Fowler told jokes about his criminal twin brother, who people in his hometown mistook him for. He also talked about nearly getting robbed by an unarmed man and also about one particular run-in with the police.
Fowler first took to comedy in the twelfth grade by joining an improv team at his high school, run by their British Literature teacher, Mr. Spencer.
“I got into improv first and then started writing sketches in school for the drama class,” Fowler said. “[Mr. Spencer] had his own way of teaching. He really focused on comedies, like being yourself and doing your own thing in comedy. So, everybody was like an outcast type, punk, nerds or like, just the weirdoes of school went to that guy.”
Fowler was inspired by Eddie Murphy’s famous comedy special: “Raw,” and began to take comedy seriously after seeing it for the first time.
He performed his first set in a coffee shop in Silver Spring, Maryland at eighteen years of age.
“It was freakin just, terrible,” Fowler said about his first comedy act ever.
At nineteen, after placing second in an up-and-coming comedians competition, Fowler said he began getting notoriety around town and his career took off from there.
“I was working in the morning and doing shows at night. I had nothing to do except do standup so I just learned how to write better, sooner than most people.”
Despite a somewhat lackluster turnout at Lyman, both Fowler and Kosta made the best of it by playing to the crowd.
“I think that if you had asked everyone there they would have said they had a great time,” Kosta said, “and I know from my standpoint of performance, I had a great time.”