Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones kept the laughs coming during her headlining Mirthday performance at UMSL Friday night. Photo by Lawrence Bryant

By the time Leslie Jones warned the packed audience at the Touhill Performing Arts Center that her live comedy act was NSFSNL (Not Safe for “Saturday Night Live”), it was already too late. Jones came out cussing Friday night and performed a set more fitting for “Def Comedy Jam” than UMSL’s annual Mirthday celebration.

She’s a cast member of the eponymous NBC sketch comedy series – that along with a starring role in the family friendly all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot has made Jones a household name. To many, she’s been viewed as somewhat of an overnight success thanks to SNL. But for most of the nearly three decades she’s been grinding to get there, Jones spent on stage perfecting her craft on the urban comedy scene. In 2014, a 47-year-old Jones became the oldest person to join the cast in SNL’s 40-year history. Thanks to the show and her social media presence, Jones has finally hit her stride as a lovable personality. Friday night in St. Louis, she kept it real – real raunchy – when she took her fans back to her roots within the entertainment industry. They didn’t seem to mind one bit.

Jones spared no dirty detail as she talked about aging, a lackluster love life and her good old days as an uninhibited twenty-something year old member of a crew that had no problem trading sexual favors for VIP access.

“I’ve got these notes, because I’m old,” Jones said. She came out wearing a black Selena t-shirt, some distressed black skinny jeans with a tan knee brace.

“You know I’m old and don’t give a [expletive],” Jones said. “I got my knee brace on the outside.”

Jones dove into her set by calling out one of the students in attendance for the Mirthday festivities – which for the second year has included a comedy show.

“How old are you?” Jones yelled to out to the young woman. The woman told Jones she was 22.

She asked the young woman about her sex life and her current undergarment situation.

“What? I’m 50,” Jones said. “I’ll ask whatever the [expletive] I want.” It was a segue into her story about the time she and her cohort seduced their way into a Grammys afterparty – where Jones was determined to have a tryst with late pop star Prince.

“I said, ‘I’m gonna [expletive] Prince tonight,’” Jones said in a bit made funnier by her own admission that the difference in their body types may have complicated the physical compatibility of the rendezvous. But Jones relived the moment in a high-impact physical manner that showed to what lengths she was planning to go to get his attention. The story culminated with Jones, in a tiny dress and a “Sade ponytail.” She decided to “helicopter” the ponytail – which she said then flew off her head and over in the VIP section. She got Prince’s attention, but he was anything but seduced.

“Needless to say, I did not [expletive] Prince that night,” Jones confessed. “I wanted to share that story with him when he came to Saturday Night Live, but I feel like he thought I was Chris Rock.”

Jones was manic, but it was rooted in the bliss of being back where it all began for her.

“Y’all don’t know how happy I am to be here in St. Louis with y’all,” Jones said. “This is what I do. I’m veering, but it’s because I have so much I want to tell y’all.”

She used the challenges in her personal life to poke fun at the invasion of her privacy as one of the celebrities caught up in a hack that made her nude photos public domain.

“I had been trying to get those pictures out there for years,” Jones said.

In lieu of a finale, Jones hopped down into the crowd. She hugged, she slapped fives, she roasted a man for his plaid shirt. Jones even solicited an audience member to coach her threw an impromptu twerk session.

Comedian Lenny Marcus warmed the crowd up for Jones, where his humor about diet fads and airplane travel fared especially well.

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