CHAOS and Hub City Comedy will present “Graduation” starring senior entertainment business major Deveron “D” Dennis on Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Wilbur Stout Hall on USM’s Hattiesburg campus.
The first-time comedy special by Dennis will feature him performing a prepared 30-minute stand-up comedy show.
Dennis is a growing talent based out of Hattiesburg and is part of the Hub City comedy scene. He is known by the community as a gifted comic.
The show will be hosted in collaboration with CHAOS, or Collective Hip-Hop: An Artistically Original Society. CHAOS, a USM-based organization, has dedicated appreciation to the arts and to self expression since 2006.
“That group is the reason I’m doing stand-up comedy,” Dennis said. “They pushed me. I’m the first comic to ever be in the group, and I’ve done so much for the group. They said they would help me with something that would help me in my career post-graduation.”
The show will feature two individuals from CHAOS and two performers from Hub City Comedy, a group in Hattiesburg with the intention to provide a comedy scene for people in the area. According to the group’s founder, Hannibal Buress has performed in Hattiesburg through Hub City Comedy three times. Tig Notaro and other big names have been presented in town through Hub City Comedy.
“I’m confident enough in the jokes that they will open up doors for me,” Dennis said.
Dennis said the main factor in making him anxious for the performance is his mother’s presence.
“Everybody else knows that I’m funny, but my mom has never seen me do stand-up comedy,” he said. “She’s never heard me curse. I want to be excited, and the only thing that is making me excited is my mom saying she might come.”
Dennis, Hub City Comedy, and CHAOS have been preparing for months on the project.
“I can’t get nervous for my show, but I can for other people’s shows,” Dennis said. “I’ve been rehearsing like crazy. Walking and talking for 30 minutes is exhausting.”
Dennis said his favorite topics to perform and what will be included in the show are self deprecation, observational comedy and political comedy.
Dennis has been involved in stand-up comedy for nearly four years. He also hosts his own radio show on WUSM.
“The freedom of speech that I get doing stand-up has always been important to me,” Dennis said. “I’ve finally found an outlet where I can talk about what I want and let people have a good time. I get to kill two birds in one stone.”
Dennis said he observes what society deems funny and comes up with creative jokes.
“I’ve been making people laugh since the fifth grade,” he said. “I was always a small kid, and when my big cousin left and went to the middle school, I had to fend for myself. I thought to myself, ‘You’re small, so fighting is not an option for you. How do you not get these people to bully you?’ It was comedy. It started there.”
Dennis began his self-expression by dancing.
“I knew I wanted to be an artist, but I didn’t know what kind I wanted to be. Then I went to singing, then I went to rapping, but I have always been funny. Comedy comes so natural to me. It lets me get my feelings out and make people laugh about it. I learned that my humor is my gift.”
His talent has brought him attention through word of mouth. Although he does not have a heavy social media presence, Dennis does have a Youtube channel. Dennis has been performing at shows seriously since 2015, being booked in Tennessee, Florida, and all around Mississippi.
“I’ve gotten to the point where if I get a call from a number I don’t recognize, I can’t ignore it,” he said.
“He’s been coming into his own and I think he’s ready,” said Founder of Hub City Comedy Jamie Arrington. “When he said he wanted to do it, everybody was all in on it. He’s been putting the stuff together for years.”
Arrington expects a solid crowd Thursday despite the “tough time of the year” with football, finals and the holidays.
“Deveron can go as far as he wants to go,” Arrington said. “He’s got a lot of stage presence, and he has a likeability factor that not a lot of people have.”
Dennis expects to graduate this December and thus intentionally named his piece “Graduation” as a means to leave a legacy at Southern Miss.
“This is like my dissertation or thesis,” Dennis said. “I wanted to leave something here. Come out and have a good time before finals. Come have this one good laugh before the stress of finals builds up.”