On Oct. 21, 2016, Jacquez Campbell became a different person.

He felt something change within him - he felt a spark.

A Savannah native, Campbell was sitting in a crowded Savannah Civic Center that night, waiting on one of his favorite comedians, Katt Williams, to take the stage. Before the world-famous Williams came on, however, a local comedian was beginning his set as one of the warm-up acts.

Chris Islame, a well-known Savannah comedian, was charged with putting on a good show ahead of Williams, to loosen up the crowd before the main event. For Campbell, the spot Islame found himself in was an enviable one. Campbell wanted to know how Islame got on the stage that night and, more importantly, Campbell needed to know how he could do the same thing.

"I was immediately thinking to myself, like, 'How do I get on that stage, man?' ⦠I know I can make these people laugh."

Five in one

His birth name, Jacquez Richard Michael Donald Campbell, doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, so he has improvised and now goes simply by "Five."

The name, created by Campbell himself, is not one with deep meaning.

"It's 'Five' 'cause that's how many names I have in my full name. Don't over think it, homie, don't over think it."

Five, a 36-year-old who, by his own admission, looks a little like Dave Chapelle, says he's always been told how funny he was, but never thought about putting that trait into practice until that October night in 2016.

He was always the clever class clown coming up through Savannah's public school system, and even through his high school years (Beach, class of 1999), Five never had a problem being the one doing the talking, while those around him were usually doing the laughing. He wasn't just comfortable with speaking in front of friends and strangers alike, he relished the opportunities to do so.

But even in his day-to-day life, what Five considers "speaking" looks, feels and sounds more like performing to the rest of us.

Behind the bar

A single father to a 14-year-old daughter, Five pays the bills by working as a bartender at Spanky's on River Street. There, he uses the constant turnover of different kinds of people sitting at his bar as an audience on which to try out his comedic material.

He pours and paces inside of the horseshoe bar, entertaining the crowd as he does best.

When the customers find out (he is often forced to promote himself) about his comedic aspirations, they usually ask him to tell a joke, and although he admits making someone laugh on command is as difficult as it is annoying, he usually succeeds in making them at least smile.

"I stand behind the bar every day, basically, and that's me, that's really who I am," he said when asked if he has to turn the comedy on and off, similar to an actor playing a role.

"It's not an act. In [bartending], it's the same goal as doing stand-up, really. You try and make the people who are sitting in front of you happy and you try to make an impression that will last. It can't be an act - they'll see through that."

Every day brings a different kind of person, and with that, a different set of jokes. The style of Five, however, is ever present and always recognizable.

Perfecting his form

On a Tuesday night in mid-February, Five delivers some jokes at a local bar's open mic night. Here, like he does at work, Five works on his craft with only a few dozen people listening in. On this night, he is forced to follow two not-so-great sets from fellow comedians having an off night.

No worries.

It doesn't take long for him to capture the attention of every ear in the room. As he usually does, Five starts by introducing the audience to characters in a story he is getting set to tell.

The personalities have varied. There was a flamboyant Spirit Airlines flight attendant, then a boss who convinced him to try hot yoga for the first time. On this night, it was a friend who had introduced him to a dating app.

"I was hanging out with my white friend the other night, and he told me about this thing called Tinder," he began.

Every eyeball in the bar shifted from cell phone screens to his direction on stage. He was off and running.

"I went and set up my Tinder profile and I was expecting success like my friend. But that isn't how it went down, OK? The first woman I see on this thing has a picture of her and her five children. Swiiiiiiipe!"

Following the end of any one story is the beginning of the next one, and finally a closing line or two that will usually tie every previous story to another, and another.

"It's an art form, man, that's something I'm beginning to understand," he said.

"I'm not Jerry Seinfeld, bro. It's not one-liners and it's not dry comedy. I'm still new to this so it is raw and it still needs a little work but my style is a product of my environment. I try and bring you into my mind, into what I see."

He knows there are steps to climb and hoops to jump through, but since his first time performing on stage (April 12, 2017), he has already developed a signature style.

The end-goals are lofty, as he doesn't look too far into the hypothetical future before finding his success story. Asked what he wants out of all of this, Five answered with a serious yet simple response.

"I want to make money making people laugh. That's all man, I just want to make them all laugh."


What: LMFAO Comedy Show

When: 9 p.m. Feb. 24

Where: The Tavern & Hookah Bar, 125 Foxfield Way, Pooler

Cost: $10 in advance

Info: 912-695-6630

What: Cuttin' Up Comedy Show

When: 9 p.m. Feb. 26

Where: Elan Savannah, 301 William St.

Cost: $10; 21 and up

Info: Instagram @Mr_2plus3 and Facebook.com/Mr 2plus3