What do you want to be when you grow up?
Growing up, the typical responses were a doctor, lawyer, astronaut, athlete etc. Well, in this case, it’s not that Jim Williams Jr. wouldn’t be able to walk on the moon, perform open-heart surgery, or write you a symphony–he would just rather make you laugh.
Williams emerges from the dining area in the Student Union with his friend of three years, Jeremy Hardin, in tow. Settling into a vacant spot on a cushioned seat near the entrance, Jim partakes in an order of fries from Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.
He greets the interviewer before explaining why he grabbed the fries beforehand. “I had to man,” Williams said, laughing between bites. “If I hadn’t, you probably wouldn’t get too much out of me today.”
At first glance, Williams appears fairly unassuming. His demeanor is easy-going, calm, and effortless. He seems like a normal guy. According to Williams, he’s just a full-time VSU student that cuts grass part-time.
Williams, 21, hadn’t decided that he wanted to make people laugh for a living until after he graduated high school at the age of 17.
Now in his second year at VSU, he is majoring in theater arts performance; an obvious choice for aspiring actors and entertainers.
“I decided to do that because I felt like I’m gonna be on stage anyway, so I might as well get comfortable and adjusted to being on stage,” Williams said.
Williams has experienced both sides of performing at comedy gigs in the area over the past year.
“I tried to do Florida’s Funniest Comedian last year, but I ended up forgetting my material on stage,” he said. “Then, last semester, I did the talent show here and won that, so that was pretty good.”
That first taste of success had Williams coming back for more. He has been working on developing his style and stage presence over the last year.
“When I first graduated, I used to write stuff but it really only made sense to me,” Williams said. “I had to change up my style and make it more universal. Part of perfecting that style was simply deciding on a good stage name. When I did [the talent show] out here, I did ‘Jim Bone–but I’m still trying to decide whether I’m gonna use that or just go with Jim Williams. I’m still kind of thinking on that.”
He has his own YouTube channel, MrJLW4life, where he has posted videos of his latest projects. Williams has impersonations of comedians such as Chris Tucker, Katt Williams and Bill Cosby on the channel.
Upon request, Williams took his iPhone out of his pocket and played the video of his hilarious and stunningly accurate Chris Tucker impersonation. Everyone in the vicinity burst into laughter as Williams reeled off every trademark line.
In his downtime, Williams spends a lot of time watching old stand-up. He idolizes comedic savants like Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence and the late Bernie Mac and Richard Pryor.
When asked what makes Williams so funny, his friend Jeremy Hardin spoke fondly.
“Jim says the stuff that no one would say,” Hardin said smiling. “He has a natural [humor]. He’ll pick out random stuff and make it funnier than it already is.”
Longtime friend Asante Jenkins was more candid in his assessment.
“One thing, I think, that makes him funny is the fact that he puts himself in his jokes,” Jenkins said. “I think that’s a very strong attribute to being a comedian—being able to take your situations and find the humor in them.”
Both Hardin and Jenkins agree that Williams has his own unique style.
“One thing that he doesn’t do is use profanity in his comedy, which shows you the depth of his comedic talent,” Jenkins said.
Funny manifests itself in many shapes and sizes. Williams, who is admittedly overweight, tenses a bit as he recollects about how he was mocked and teased about his weight when he was younger.
“When I was younger, I used to let it be a problem,” Williams said. “[Now] instead of feeling bad about myself, I’ve accepted the fact that I’m bigger than most people I come across. It’s not really an issue to me anymore. I just use it as a weapon rather than an obstacle.”
As with any dream or goal, there are occasional struggles to find motivation, muster the dedication and avoid getting discouraged. While Williams believes that comedy will be his profession, his main challenge now is simply learning to take the funny business seriously.
“Sometimes I feel like I wanna do it, then other times I may get discouraged.” Williams said. “I believe if I take [comedy] seriously, then I can go as far as I wanna go with it—sky’s the limit.”
At the end of the day, Jim Williams Jr. embraces being an entertainer and relishes the opportunity to empower others.
“I just enjoy laughter,” Williams said. “I enjoy making people laugh. If I see someone down, I always try to go talk to them and help them out because I know how it is to be lonely and depressed.”