Bone Hampton's ('93) years at UNT transformed him for a lifetime.
For starters, he acquired his nickname here.
There was an encounter with Sinbad that led to a career as a stand-up comic.
And he earned a degree in emergency administration and disaster planning that helped him survive on the stage.
Hampton has built a 30-year career in comedy that has included a stint on America's Got Talent and appearances as a co-host on The View. His comedy is clean, free of curse words and sexual innuendo, allowing him to perform at churches and for family audiences. He's appeared in the movie All About Steve, the TV show My Name is Earl and toured with Lecrae ('02) in 2012.
But he never planned any of it. He says he didn't grow up being funny.
"That's the whole thing that's crazy," he says. "I was a straight nerd."
Vernard Fitzgerald Hampton's life changed on Fouts Field.
Hampton, who grew up in Fort Worth, played defensive tackle for the Mean Green football team. Called "Hambone" by his high school teammates, the name was shortened to "Bone" in college.
At the time, Necessary Roughness was filming on campus. During downtime working as an extra, he and some pals pretended to be church ladies, and the comic Sinbad loved it. Sinbad was about to host his TV variety show and he gave Hampton his pager number so he could book him. But the show was cancelled.
Sinbad advised Hampton that he should still look into a career in entertainment. So, after graduation, Hampton hit Steve Harvey's comedy club in Dallas.
"I prepared so well for my first three minutes," he says. "Those three minutes were great."
The next night, he didn't prepare.
"I got booed off stage, and it was a horrendous feeling of this-did-not-just-happen," he says.
But Harvey grabbed his arm as he was walking off the stage.
"Don't worry about them," Harvey told Hampton. "You're going to be all right."
"I really believe that changed the whole course of my career," Hampton says. "Now I had Sinbad telling me to go into entertainment and Steve Harvey made sure I got my confidence back."
Soon, he was playing the comedy circuit -- which for him, as a clean comic, includes churches and religious festivals as a way for him to stand out from other comedians.
Hampton says for him, comedy happens organically.
"My biggest problem is I don't write like I talk," he says. "It's difficult for me to sit for an hour and write material. I have to pay attention to how I'm talking."
If he and his best friend, former The View co-host Sherri Shepherd, are talking, he'll stop what he's saying and write it on a notepad.
Hampton says his degree in emergency administration and disaster planning has helped him as he repeats the mantra he learned from his studies.
"Every time I'm ready to do a show -- are you prepared, are you ready?" he says.
Not all emergencies require the same response.
During one show at a church, a kid was heckling him.
"I felt the Holy Spirit tap me and say, 'Move on.' What? 'Man, move on. Move on!' So I moved on."
Afterward, the pastor told him he won the audience by not responding to the boy -- who had suffered brain damage from an accident.
"You learn to move on from situations because every situation is different," Hampton says.
His biggest highlights? His appearance on America's Got Talent in 2018.
"America's Got Talent is NBC primetime at night. For two minutes it was just me entertaining America," he says. "If you're watching the show, you're paying attention to me."
Then there was his appearance on The View with Whoopi Goldberg.
"Does it really get better than The Color Purple and Ghost?" he says.
He found himself disagreeing with her about a piece of celebrity gossip -- and she was signaling him to continue arguing.
"She's giving me the thumbs up to do it more," he says. "It's hard to outdo that moment."