The few hundred Howard University students who packed Crampton Auditorium on Feb. 25 to see Nick Cannon's stand-up performance got a little more than they bargained for. Five minutes into the show, he stripped off his shirt.
Of course, this was after the crowd had interrupted his act, repeatedly chanting, "Take it off!" and "Show us!"
For anyone who's seen the comedian, it wouldn't hurt the guy to pack on a few pounds. So it was apparent that fans weren't interesting in peeking at his super-lean physique, but instead the famed "MARIAH" tattooed across his back.
Cannon, who wed multiplatinum singer Mariah Carey back in 2008, has a résumé longer than most entertainers his age, starting back when he was a teen on Nickelodeon's "All That."
'Laughter Is the Best Medicine'
But the biggest buzz around the multi-faceted talent happens to be about his whirlwind romance with Carey. And after numerous doubts that their "publicity-stunt" relationship was a faux, fans are now biting their tongues after recent news emerged that the couple is expecting twins.
Once he appeased the audience, Cannon went on with his stand-up routine, the one area in his comedic career where he has struggled to earn approval.
"I was actually really surprised how funny Nick was," said Theo Graves, a senior at Howard. "I found myself laughing, a lot actually. I've watched Nick on television for years and I don't remember him being that funny."
Billy Sorrells, an up-and-coming comedian from Houston, Texas, also took the stage for the second time at Howard University this year.
"That kid has tremendous talent," said Ryan McConnell, a D.C. resident who came out with his daughter to watch the show, and also donate money to a good cause: Haiti. "It's a good thing to see black men using their celebrity to promote the beauty of giving back."
The benefit comedy show was sponsored by Howard University's Haitian Relief Fund, which was put together by students to raise money for the victims of last year's devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that killed nearly 300,000 and left more than 1.5 million people homeless.
"It means so much to be able to put on a show and not only entertain, but as you know, they say laughter's the best medicine," said Cannon.
During the performances, baskets were passed around the auditorium to collect donations, with 100 percent of it going directly to Haiti.
"What people don't realize is that the aftermath of a disaster is sometimes the most destructive," said Howard junior Jamal Stevens. "The media has stopped reporting on the people of Haiti, but death and poverty and illness still linger. We have to continue to help these people because they desperately need it."