a few months ago, i received a message from a local comic. “hey, can you give me a call? i have an offer for you,” it said. so i called her. she was putting together a show of black female comedians and she wanted me to be a part of it. “i want to show people all of the different types of comedy we black women can do,” she explained. “we’re calling it sisters in spanx.”
solidarity, right? never mind that the idea of performing in front of a black audience has scared the bejeezus out of me since i started. never mind my previous attempts at it have left me questioning if i’m a good comic or even a decent black person. i’ve got to keep trying, so i agreed. i agreed and i watched as the list of comics grew to include ladies named Mz. Wall Street. and Tu Kute. and Sunday Brunch.
i immediately started to worry. i wasn’t worried about Mz. Wall Street or Sunday Brunch - i was sure they would be very entertaining. (i mean, i would hope so with those stage names.) i also figured they would be high energy. how on earth are you going to drop me in the middle of all that? i am like the perry como of atlanta black female comics. plus, i’ve been experimenting with being very quiet at the beginning of my sets, then building to a dull squeak. i was not sure that stuff would play in front of a black crowd.
so i tried something new to prepare for the gig - i didn’t think about it. i had plenty of stuff to do - hell, i was co-producing my first event with SoSure. as luck would have it, the SHAKE show was the night before. doing it took up most of my time & brain power. by the time sisters in spanx rolled around, i was delirious.
the room was packed. there was a DJ, spinning all of your classic R&B good-time jams. so many people. i was intimidated (or, i would have been if i’d had all of my wits about me). it was hosted by the delightful comic & drag queen BrentStar. he’s good people. dulce sloan opened and killed it. then Mz. Wall Street went up and CRUSHED IT. she was hilarious. standing ovation. everyone turned in solid sets. i wanted to crawl under a table. there was no way i was going to do well.
my brain said, “hey. i’m too tired to get worked up over this right now, so i’mma need you to calm down. just do what you do. who cares what happens? at least we’re here. you love this, remember?” i listened to my brain and decided i’d stop overthinking. why would my brain steer me wrong?
i find it to be poor taste to say things like, “i killed it!” in front of people. i’ve seen too many comics claim to “kill it” when what they mean is “i successfully talked into a microphone in front of a crowd and i didn’t throw up on myself.” but i am aware enough to know when a set is successful. my set that night was a successful set. the first time i’ve made a room full of black people not related to me laugh. and it was a big deal for me.
i fought my impulse to walk off the stage and bolt to my car. i wanted to thank the hosts/producers of the show. i’m glad i did - i was able to chop it up a bit with comedians that i never see, make new connections. and everyone respected & enjoyed each other’s various styles. it was beautiful, man. i was so happy afterwards.
a good time.