Comedian comes for homecoming celebrations


Natalie Tyler

As a kickoff to homecoming weekend, UPAC hosted comedian Chinedu Unaka in the Harriet Johnson Auditorium on Friday, Oct. 5. Unaka’s sketches included topics like relationships, growing up with immigrant parents, teaching and college life.

Lauren Gennerman, Features Reporter

As part of homecoming week celebrations, the Winona State University Programming Activities Committee (UPAC) invited current students, faculty and Winona State alumni to a free show by comedian Chinedu Unaka in the Harriet Johnson Auditorium at 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5.

According to Unaka, UPAC contacted his agent after seeing him perform at a conference and wanted him to visit Winona State.

After a brief introduction from UPAC, Unaka started his show. Touching on subjects like being in love with his girlfriend but not being ready for marriage, growing up with immigrant parents, living in Los Angeles with his name, being a teacher and his college life, Unaka related to many experiences of his audience.

At times, Unaka saw people leaving his show and asked them why, making a variety of jokes at their excuses. He also interacted with people who came late, relating to one couple’s experience of how much they loved each other.

Unaka also explained how he got started in comedy. After chuckling and talking about how stand-up is funny whether someone is doing well or not, he talked about how he felt at home on stage and how comedy originally started as a hobby that quickly grew out of control as he fell in love with it.

“One of my friends thought I was really funny and thought I would be funny on stage,” Unaka said. “One day we were at a talent show – I think I was doing poetry or music – and one of my friends was doing stand-up and they challenged me to go on stage. People were laughing, and I thought I did really well.”

Before comedy, however, Unaka was a special education teacher at a public charter school in Los Angeles for six years. At first he taught only during the day and did stand-up at night, but eventually left teaching to fully dedicate himself to his new career. He does not, however, consider his time in teaching to be a mistake.

“I was blessed by being in education because now I know if I was to ever run into a place where I’m crazy successful, I know where I want to put my money,” Unaka said.

While the auditorium audience was seated in a concentrated manner it was still clear Unaka did not fill the entire room. This did not sway him, as he described the turnout as “great.”

“LA is a place where some days you perform for two people and some days you perform for a hundred people, and so whether it is five or a hundred thousand people, I’m just super appreciated that people came out to listen. It will never not be a compliment to me that people come to see me,” Unaka said.

Haley Vail, a sophomore environmental biology major at Winona State, attended the show.

“Unaka was a delight. The show was a great way to start homecoming weekend.” Vail said.

When asked what he plans to do next, Unaka was clear on his ideal path.

“I want to take acting more seriously. I’ve been taking classes for four or five years now,” Unaka said. “I’m just looking for that really big role that can catapult me into being a star. My biggest thing is to always put myself in a position where I can be successful while helping other people succeed and fast-track their careers. I want to get to a place where I can not only be successful for myself, but for other people as well.”