Late Night with Roy was hilarious.
Yes, you aren’t misreading that sentence. It may have been some odd stroke of magic, or maybe even just my own Roy-loving madness, but Late Night with Roy accomplished the one thing that has stumped its creative directors for years.
It was legitimately funny.
Throughout years past, we’ve had every possible emotion satisfied at Late Night with Roy. In my now four years at UNC, I’ve personally witnessed the hairs on my arms stand when I realized how amazingly talented the duo of Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson was going to be. In 2017, I felt the collective heart break of 15,000 fans being reminded of Kris Jenkins’ act of unadulterated evil and our darling Marcus’ tears that followed.
Last year, the word redemption was thrown around at least 100 times, as a brand new decoration was added to the ceiling - or roof, if you please - of the Dean E. Smith Center.
“University of North Carolina
2017 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS”
I’m not too proud to admit that I cried when they replayed the highlights of that terrific tournament run and unveiled the banner.
However, in those three years, North Carolina’s most popular pep rally found a way to miss the mark on Tar Heel fans’ funny bones every time.
First impressions didn’t help that opinion, admittedly. With all due respect to Chapel Hill Players, better known as CHiPs, I could not have imagined a worse introduction to a soon-to-be historic basketball team than the horror that was improvised charades in 2016. As much as I am a fan of good old-fashioned comedy improv, telling Marcus Paige to act like he’s a kitchen appliance was probably not the most well thought out idea in LNWR history.
A year later it wasn’t much better. Despite a fairly entertaining dance off, thanks to the ever-comical Theo Pinson, there’s something just slightly off putting about a costumed Stilman White in a rasta-themed performance.
But that may have been where the real problem has lain all this time. Not only has UNC been graciously gifted tons of basketball players that are the top tier of their sport, but a lot of these guys are actually genuine funny characters.
While we often remember our favorite Tar Heel legends for their production, many of them are remembered even more so for the fun that they had. Like Danny Green, whose desire to dance in pregame shootarounds turned into some sort of a Carolina tradition, ten years down the line.
With guys like Danny and Theo, hilarious pregame festivities and press conferences are just born out of their own personalities. You don’t need to have Theo trying to convince his charade partner that he’s a blender for the audience and the team to have fun, you just need to let him be himself.
Thankfully, someone at the helm of the LNWR itinerary came to this realization in 2018.
Instead of overzealous attempts at making the athletes what they’re not, they played games that let the guys just have fun. Who knew that a simple game of blaring headphones and lip-reading to your team could be such a crowd pleaser? I’ll give you a hint: it’s because they didn’t have to choreograph anything.
Not to mention the fact that Brandon Huffman is a one-man-band who can get a crowd going with his concentrated “Let’s get it,” as he totally butchers a sentence about Molly Sullivan, Antawn Jamison and ACC Championships.
And then they top it off with a cheese ball throwing, basketball dribbling competition. I personally didn’t expect the team to be so talented at catching cheese balls with their mouths, or to ever test that skill on the Roy Williams Court, but it was pretty daggum entertaining. Sometimes simplicity really works, especially when your entertainers are a bunch of 20-year-olds.
That being said, there was certainly some amount of luck that helped usher in what I hope is a new age of LNWR entertainment acts. Whoever taught Luke Maye to do the shoot dance taught him well. Not only was every 11-year-old boy in the Smith Center amazed by it, but I was personally pretty taken aback by his ability to glide across the floor. I honestly could not have guessed that.
My only hope for the next annual installment: a Coach Williams impersonation contest. And let Theo come back for it, just for good measure.