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August, 2013 Issue

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Jacob Williams

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Many of you will perhaps remember the first incarnation of the very funny and very successful "Nick Cannon Presents: Wild N' Out" some years back on MTV. Now, the show has been reborn on the network's sister station MTV2 and its premiere episode garnered the highest ratings ever for a show on that network. Jacob Williams has landed a regular slot on the program.

You may remember seeing Jacob on last year's season of "America's Got Talent" where he was well received and pushed on to the Vegas semi-final round before elimination. Despite not being a finalist, it got him noticed which led him to MTV2.

Jacob is a regularly touring campus comic now and it's no surprise this would be a comfortable home for him. As a matter of fact he began his comedy career on campus. "I started doing comedy in college," he says, "so that's why I am really excited about performing in the college market. In the beginning I was terrified of talking to people in general, so I thought 'What better way to get over that fear than to talk to tons of people at once; and not only talk, but to try to make them laugh?' I was fascinated by the idea of comedy, that this was a career someone could actually have, because I always loved watching stand-up. When I got to college, one of my friends tried it and that gave me the motivation to do it too. He was just a normal guy, if he was giving it a shot, I should too. I was hooked immediately."

Jacob's first "big break" didn't come until a couple of years later, but he says there were a few steps while he was still in college that were very encouraging. "One of them was winning a couple stand-up contests, and by winning one, I actually got the opportunity to open for Pauley Shore for his Showtime special in Las Vegas. At the time that was very surreal; I was just a college kid and was flown to Las Vegas to open for this famous name. I ended up winning another contest, which gave me the opportunity to open for Nick Cannon too."

This was the first time he and Nick Cannon crossed paths (check out our cover story on Nick in the Nov 2010 issue at www.campusactmag. com) but it wouldn't be the last. "That really helped motivate me pretty early on. Then of course 'America's Got Talent' was my biggest break up to that point. Now, with 'Wild N' Out' I feel like I have made another real step, because it's the first project I have become a regularly feature player on; that is just an amazing feeling and has been great to be a part of. It's not just a 90 second slot here and there like on 'AGT,' it really feels like I am a part of a legitimate cast of a major show. It's great to know I can't get voted off this one (laughs)."

Jacob credits patience and perseverance much more than simply raw talent for his current successes. "I feel like it is one of those things where you have to start with noting, but if you just keep doing it, all the little successes add up to be greater than the individual parts. You start of with 'How do I even write a joke?' to trying to write a better joke to writing five minutes, then 30, then being able to do a full hour. Hopefully good things happen along the way, and in my case they have."

Jacob focused on practice, practice, practice. "I was (and am) always getting on stage as much as I possibly can. Eventually I got some pretty good videos of me performing which really opened some doors to bigger opportunities."

Coming full circle back to the campus market, Jacob says he learned the most right here at home. "I would say I picked up most of what I needed by just going to comedy shows on my own campus, I would go up on stage whenever I could, but I was the only comedian on campus (laughs), so I would have to wait until the program board booked a comedy show to try and get up and do an opening set for the featured performers. We had Tommy Johnagin and Pete Holmes and a lot of other really good people that were great about giving me a chance to get up on stage for a few minutes to practice my craft. I would always ask them advice and they were very accommodating but the number one thing they told me was that I needed to move to somewhere that I could get as much stage time as possible."

Jacob realized that his small campus in Wisconsin wasn't going to be the place his comedy career would take off, so he made the move to the nearest major market, and a true hub of comedy. "I moved to Chicago before I finished school, but still graduated from Beloit College in WI. I spent some of that time taking classes in Chicago, spending as much time on stage as possible and learning a ton about improv."

It's an interesting combination of skills that he has, because as a general rule of thumb you see many comics who are either good at writing their material and doing stand-up, or you see comics who are amazing with off-the-cuff improvisation. It's fairly rare to find a blend of the two. This blend is certainly one that will suit him well for the format of "Wild N' Out," which features different styles of comedy including improv, stand-up, insult comedy and games.

Jacob says when he performs, he still flashes back to his days as a student. "I was really inspired by the comics I saw on campus. When I was a freshman just starting out, I always went to those shows and I remember thinking, 'That is the best job anyone could ever have, just to be able to perform at colleges, to come for an hour and get to talk about whatever you wanted and make people laugh and feel good at the same time. It's a very gratifying feeling and I am completely grateful for the opportunity to be making a career out of it. I am so happy that I am able to do what I wanted to do when I first started college."

Contact Franco Talent at info@FrancoTalent. com or (401) 236-8636 for more info on Jacob and bringing him to your school.