Sherrell, better known as his comedy persona “Rob God Dammit,” created the major in order to help him further realize his passion for making others laugh and ensure others could do the same.
“Comedy is my life,” Sherrell said. “It’s really important to me because laughter is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Without laughter, I don’t think life is really worth living. Laughter is truly the universal language.”
Sherrell said he was initially reluctant to come to IU, but a positive campus tour experience completely changed his perspective.
“I wanted to go to Ball State all four years of high school,” Sherrell said. “I took one tour and it changed my mind of where I wanted to go. I lost my wallet on that tour and, by the end of it, it was actually returned to me. Where I’m from in Indianapolis, that just wasn’t something that happened. It kind of gave me a testament to the character of people here in Bloomington.”
Sherrell said he didn’t truly realize his potential as a stand-up comedian until he came to IU.
“After one of the shows I did on campus, it was actually a Union Board Show called ‘Random Acts of Comedy,’ I realized that I really want to keep doing stand-up,” Sherrell said. “I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now. I’m fairly good at it, but I knew I didn’t want to drop out of school.”
Sherrell said, as the first in his family to attend college, the investment he made in a university education was too much to throw away.
“I had spent far too much money, far too much time, my mom was counting on me and she would literally stab me until I was living no longer if I dropped out of school,” Sherrell said. “I needed to find a way to merge my passion with my education.”
Sherrell said that night, he decided to embark upon the journey to become a stand-up comedy major, a journey largely led by IU’s Individualized Major ?Program.
Junior Angelica Smith said she met Sherrell early during her freshman year, and his love of entertainment was immediately clear.
“I thought he was hilarious from the beginning,” Smith said. “He kept us laughing. A few people would act embarrassed when he would clown around in public, but he and I have similar senses of humor so it was all fun and games for us.”
As a student in the IMP, Sherrell said he needed to fill out a lengthy application in which he chose specific classes to fit his proposed major and explained why those classes would be important to him in his career.
Telecommunications and communication and culture, Sherrell said, give insight into production. Theater provides necessary stage experience. Sociology and psychology help him understand how people think and what they’ll think is funny, Sherrell said.
Sherrell said a couple of universities he has researched have slightly similar major options, but they are less specifically geared toward what he hopes to accomplish with his major.
“Mine is a little more versatile because I have more disciplines and fields of study within my major,” Sherrell said. “That makes mine a little more ?well-rounded.”
Sherrell said his comedy heroes include the late Bernie Mac, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Daniel Tosh and Kevin Hart. Sherrell said he will see Hart perform later this year and hopes to have a private audience with the comedy great.
“I actually have a social media campaign to meet Kevin Hart as the first major in stand-up comedy in history,” Sherrell said. “It’s really a Twitter and Instagram campaign called #RobMeetsKev and it’s something that I’ve been pushing for a little bit.”
Sherrell said he was proud to see outpouring of support from across the ?nation.
His hashtag was trending in Las Vegas one day and has been popular in Bloomington a few times, as well.
He said he is optimistic his efforts will pay off.
Sherrell said anyone who wants to follow his or her passion should go for it full throttle, regardless of the support or lack thereof.
“Not everyone is going to see the dream the same way you see it,” Sherrell said. “There are going to be people who doubt you, there are going to be people who support you, there are going to be people who say they support you but don’t show any movements in actually doing so. My advice is just to stay fast in what you believe, especially if what you believe is in yourself and in your dreams.”
Smith said she is proud to call Sherrell one of her closest friends and knows that his accomplishments thus far will only grow as he moves up in the comedy world.
“He is such a strong individual,” Smith said. “Rob has been through more than most undergrads will ever even experience, and he still believes that making other people smile is more important than his own problems. That is amazing to me.”
Sherrell said he is grateful for the ability to build this major and that he has no regrets, despite skeptical responses from some.
Sherrell’s next step is to possibly return to America’s Got Talent, which he starred on during the show’s ninth season, and continue taking part in comedy shows across the country.
Smith said her advice for Sherrell is to keep doing what he is doing and never give up.
“Rob has already established himself as a comedian who knows he can’t afford to care what everyone thinks about him,” Smith said. “He lives for the fans that he does have, so I’d tell him to keep doing what he’s doing. A lot of people tried to persuade him not to major in stand-up comedy, but I’ve always told him when you do what you love, you will be the happiest. I know this is really what he wants.”