JR DeGuzman comments, rethinks, and serenades his audience with charm and wit. Karly McCloskey / The Muhlenberg Weekly

JR De Guzman is a musical comedian best known for his 15-minute stand-up special on Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup. Guzman was born in the Philippines but raised in California and a dual citizen. His songs and stories covered, but were not limited to, topics like Asian stereotypes and his family’s move to America. He has been doing comedy and stand-up since his college days and is currently 28-years-old. Guzman came to Muhlenberg on Friday Apr. 5, performing in the Event Space, doing a combination of stories, semi-improvised songs and audience interaction.

The first thing to note about this event is the attendance, or lack thereof. There were about 20 people in attendance, fairly scattered in their seating. This did not shake JR as he was able to change his set and his performance style to better suit the audience. Guzman immediately recognized the intimate setting and was able to establish a friendly environment for everyone. There was a group of students who had arrived a minute or so late, Guzman jokingly riffed with them until recognizing one of the students, Jarrett Azar ‘20, to be interracial. After talking with Azar about his background, Guzman decided to sing his song about the power of interracial babies, previously featured on his special. He dedicated it to Azar, who riffed little shout outs throughout the song. Guzman told everyone that he wasn’t planning on singing the song, immediately establishing a casual and intimate relationship with the audience. He kept this feeling throughout the show as he went off his planned set and was joking around with different audience members the entire time.

He then decided to sing another song from his special, “Two Things”, comparing two things in each verse. He dedicated the song to his grandma and the first verse compared a thin mustache to a potato chip, their similarity being that they are both on his grandma’s lip. After going through a couple more verses, Guzman started asking the audience for things to compare. He got some tough suggestions, like comparing Billy Joel and light bulbs, but despite, as he admitted, not knowing much about most of the suggestions Guzman was still able to come up with a rhyme about how they are the same.

Guzman also seemed genuinely interested in Muhlenberg, asking about the performance groups on campus and talking to people about the major choice. Once or twice, Guzman improvised an entirely new song based off of these conversations. I should also say that Guzman did a great job of blurring the line between conversation and his set stories or songs. For instance, about half an hour into the show, Guzman asked the audience how to pronounce Muhlenberg, resulting in the crowd all yelling Muhlenberg at him. He likened the group yelling a germanic sounding word to Nazi Germany. Then for the rest of the show he began each song with a little voice riff saying things like “are you Nazis ready for this?” This culminated in a song called “Don’t show your dick” with a call and response section, asking the audience to sing when a man should not show his penis, but in the middle he asked the audience to say “white power,” relieved when no one did. This is a great example of how he integrated things from his crowd work into his songs and stories. But even when transitioning from crowd work to a story from his set, Guzman’s tone and patterns of his speech remained consistent making the whole show feel conversational in a very intimate way.

I want to make sure that it is clear that Guzman was also very funny, with a talent for word play. A great example was when Guzman informed the audience that he was on his third world tour, then saying it’s his first world tour but he’s only going to third world countries and then complaining that no one was buying his album on the tour. Another example is his Christmas song, full of sexual word play centered around the winter holidays, then involving the audience by having them sing “falalala falalala falacio.” But Guzman was also great at breaking audience expectations, an example from his song “Two Things” is when he compared a Ukrainian family and a baby mouse, saying “these are two things hiding in my house.”

After seeing Guzman perform live and his Netflix special, I believe he is a great comedian worth checking out. But this specific performance was something special, both for the audience and it seems for Guzman. As the show was coming to an end Guzman commented on the intimate feel again and opened up some. He admitted that he had recently went through a breakup and asked the audience if he could sing a personal, non-funny song. The audience embraced the idea, so Guzman performed a sad song about his recent breakup for the first time to an audience. The song was interesting and emotional, while keeping his voice as a performer and the fact that he felt comfortable enough to share it shows the feel that the show had. I recommend looking into Jr De Guzman as a comic, but if you didn’t attend this show then you missed one of the more intimate, engaging and funny shows that I have seen on this campus.

People look at me as some big shot writer, but I’m still the same wisecracking kid from Abington looking for the answers to life’s big questions. Am I a hero for writing truth through my articles? I wouldn’t say that, but I would force others to say it. If I had to describe myself in two words, they would have to be Will and Wamser. If you would like to get to know me a little better, or even just wax poetic on a few topics, you can find me at facebook.com, thank you and namaste.


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