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UMFK’s ‘got talent’ when comedian Preacher Lawson comes to town

FORT KENT, Maine — If the ability to connect with an audience is the mark of a successful stand-up comedian, “America’s Got Talent” finalist Preacher Lawson proved his mettle with the first joke he told the nearly 500 in attendance at the University of Maine at Fort Kent on Friday, Sept. 8. 

Lawson had never been to Maine before, so could not have had any prior first hand experience with the notorious Acadian cleanliness of the St. John Valley, but it did not escape his detection.

“It’s super clean here,” he told the audience at UMFK. “I feel like I have to take my shoes off to walk outside.”

Just two days after a national audience selected Lawson as a top ten finalist on the popular NBC TV show “America’s Got Talent,” the 26-year-old comedian flew from Los Angeles to Boston where he rented a car and drove more than 400 miles to Fort Kent to perform.

Lawson writes his own material, and said he is inspired by everyday experiences, as was the case when he drove the entire vertical length of the Pine Tree State.

The road trip, during which he was surrounded by forest, inspired him to ask the question, “Why are so many animals trying to commit suicide in front of my car?”

After arriving in Fort Kent, Lawson took in a few local businesses, including Tech and Trenz, where he purchased a lightweight pullover shirt.

“This town looks amazing and the people are super nice,” Lawson said. “People recognized me at the Family Dollar.”

“I went to the Chinese food restaurant (China Garden), and there were no Chinese people around,” he joked.

Comedian Preacher Lawson earned the respect of many locals when he performed at the University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Fox Auditorium on Friday, Sept. 8. He stayed after the show to sign autographs and take pictures with all who wanted them, including, from left, Beth Malmborg, Lawson, Kris Malmborg, and Noah Theriault. (Courtesy/Kris Malmborg)

Siiri Mahonen, a UMFK freshman nursing student from Hartland, looked forward to watching Lawson perform to get her mind off a recent break-up.

“I’m having a really hard time in life right now,” Mahonen said. “He just makes me laugh; Comedy takes me away to a different place.”

Mahonen was all smiles during the show, and after.

“It was awesome,” she said of Lawson’s performance

Although UMFK Student Activities sponsored Lawson’s appearance, it wasn’t just college students who attended.

Kris and Beth Malmborg of Fort Kent attended the show with a few of their friends.

“I thought he was great to have in town, and I was most impressed with how down to earth he was. He made it a point to relate to the local people and treated our crowd of 450, just as good as a crowd of 100,000,”  Kris Malmborg said.

Lawson impressed Malmborg and many others by staying after the show, despite his impending long drive back to Boston, to sign autographs and take photos with all the fans who wanted them.

Malmborg posted the photo of himself, Beth and his brother-in-law, on his own Facebook page, between videos of his son playing rec soccer and a picture depicting two batches of homemade strawberry and raspberry jam he canned with his family.

Lawson also provided a video ‘shout-out’ on Beth’s phone to the Malmborgs’ sons, Preston, 6, and Ethan, 9, who did not attend the show.

“They could not believe that the guy from TV was in Fort Kent, and that he talked to the two of them. Priceless,” Kris Malmborg said.

Lawson said he does his best to show his appreciation for his fans.

“I’m nothing without them; That’s why I try to take time for everyone,” he said.

Lawson will perform live in the “America’s Got Talent” finals beginning at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

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