Last Comic Standing semi-finalist to headline comedy night


Last Comic Standing’s semi-finalist Taylor Tomlinson will perform alongside fellow comedians Jose Barrientos and Damienne Merlina at a comedy show in the University Union Ballroom Thursday, Sept. 8. [Photo courtesy of UNIQUE Programs]

Lanea Florence

A show featuring comedians Jose Barrientos, Damienne Merlina, and headliner Taylor Tomlinson of “Last Comic Standing” fame will be held Thursday, Sept. 8 in the University Union Ballroom.

The comedians were invited to perform at Sacramento State because they share a certain youthful charm, according to Ajamu Lamumba, the advisor of the UNIQUE program and the show’s coordinator.

“Every comedian is funny in their own way, but these three have stand-up routines that I think would appeal to college students like those here at Sac State,” Lamumba said.

Tomlinson was a semifinalist on the ninth season of the NBC comedy competition. Tomlinson has also hosted her own segment, “Young as Hell”, on the online series “Laughs TV Show” since the age of 16.

Tomlinson’s comedic style has garnered thousands of followers on social media, including Lamumba, Barrientos, and Merlina.

“What can I say about Taylor? Trying to describe the depth of her character is like trying to cover the sun with a finger,” said Barrientos. “I like that she’s honest [in her jokes], and because of that, her comedy is relatable…she’s a deep person so a lot of her jokes leave me feeling a sense of recognition.”

Barrientos, a software developer by day and comedian by night, began doing comedy while stationed with the U.S. Army in Baghdad, Iraq. Barrientos said he discovered his talent after consistently making his fellow soldiers laugh and easing their nerves.

“I walked into the debriefing room where the guys were hanging out, and started cracking jokes,” Barrientos said. “My stand-up comedy derives from my observations and what I consider to be [comical] misadventures. I fell in love with the way [comedy] makes me feel; I can’t imagine a life without some form of performance, that is for certain.”

The third comedian performing with Tomlinson and Barrientos is Damienne Merlina, who began her comedy career at an improv competition in 2003. Ever since, Merlina went on to perform for the late Robert Schimmel, producing comedy shows in music clubs and acting in movies.

“This [Sac State] show is really special to me because it is actually my first college performance,” Merlina said.

In 2014, Merlina lost an arm in a car accident, but she didn’t let the pain stop her passion. It took Merlina 35 days of rest before finding her way back to the stage to continue pursuing comedy seriously again.

Merlina said her sets always tend to be inspired by her experiences as an amputee and a victim of bullying.

“Comedy at its very finest should both make you laugh and [it] changes the world,” Merlina said.

Merlina, Tomlinson and Barrientos will take the stage Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the University Union Ballroom.