*In this world when there is so much sadness, negativity and uncertainty going on, I embrace something that is good for the soul, regardless of age, creed or color. I embrace laughter. I laugh as often as possible and find it whenever available. During this past month, I had my funny bone tickled on various occasions, two of them surprisingly unexpected.
I decided to venture out to Open Mic night at the Church of Scientology in Hollywood to check out what was happening and to show support for Chocolate Thunder Rolling, a friend who was climbing on stage. I was surrounded by millennials; talented ones at that. Most of the people sang and did rap. I really liked a few of them. Chocolate Thunder Rolling was the only comedian. I was not the only one who thought she was funny. I dragged my 21-year-old son with me and he thought she was funny. The MC said she has seen a lot of comics come through there and none of them received as many laughs and applause as Chocolate. Way to represent the non-millennials. I’ll be baaack!
On the fourth Friday of each month, Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood CA presents Comedy Café, where the routines are clean, but still funny as all get out. I have been going regularly and have seen some very talented and funny people. Dino Shorte, himself a comedian, oversees the Comedy Cafe program. The MC is Kente Scott, who is super funny and someone I always look forward to seeing. On September 28, I decided to go and get my laugh on. I was a tad disappointed to learn that Kente was not the MC for the evening. Dino did a decent job as the MC, but he is no Kente Scott. There are either two or three comedians performing and you can always tell how many are scheduled by the amount of time the MC spends on stage at the beginning of the evening; twenty minutes means only two comedians that evening, which was the case on September 28. Dino came out dancing to old school music, talking about the time when music was good. His routine also included mentioning how Donald Trump made him a better person because before Trump he never watched the news. I gave him a four on the funny meter.
Keenan Baker was the first comedian up. He shared how much he misses his hairline and how he had a 42-year-old hairline and a 32 year old face. He joked about a woman who sounded like a racecar engine as well how women have rejected him e.g., “I have eye cancer and I can’t see you anymore.” He mentioned “Can you swim” is the first question he asks women because someone has to be able to save him. I gave a seven on the funny meter.
The headliner for the evening was Ajai Sanders, who among other things, has spent time on “A Different World” and had no problem giving Bill Cosby the credit for helping her career. Guess what? The audience did not boo or gasp either.
She joked about married life, the trials of getting older and no longer being smoking hot, as well how black men feel bad when they are with white women and see Ajai. She joked about channeling Claire Huxtable to tell off someone who was dissing Serena Williams, since she fancies herself the “ultimate Serena Williams fan.”
Like Dino Shorte earlier in the evening, Ajai mentioned music; how some of today’s music sounds like a “satanic ritual” and reminisced about the music of old, as she sang clips from several songs (she can sing) to illustrate various points (jokes). She also mentioned things the younger generation will never experience. She was funny from start to finish. I gave Ajai a nine on the funny meter.
Have you ever wondered how people learn to be comedians? I was invited to a Stand-Up Graduation Show at Richard Lawson Studios, which is part of WACO (Where Art Can Occur), the theatre Lawson owns with his wife Tina Knowles Lawson, yep, Beyonce’s mom.
You should have seen the perplexed look on my face when I received the invite. I never thought about people going to school to be a comedian. I had a rare free Saturday, so I decided to check it out and I am glad I did. Some of those people were incredibly funny and I would pay to see them.
There was something for everyone, although some of the jokes were disgusting and one was unsettling because it was about a funny uncle, if you know what I mean. I will admit it was funny, but in today’s climate, I felt it was in poor taste.
Tom Ayers, the comedy teacher, opened the evening. I am all for a well-placed curse word, but his were not well placed and seemed unnecessary. He warned the audience that we would be hearing all types of things, so we could not say we were not warned. Michael Bialys was first up and gave us a chuckle when he joked about how children want to disturb you while you are in the restroom. I know…YUCK! Next was Lindsay Hopper, who was not particularly funny, but not awful. She is also the vocal coach, has a beautiful voice and performed a duet with special guest Nicholas Monteilh. I appreciated her more as a singer. An improvisation skit was next and special guests Kelly Tighe and Craig Taggert were amazing. The audience decided they should perform a skit based on a hospital setting and they pulled it off admirably. I loved it. Craig came back later to perform a drunken skit with another special guest, Mary Thompson.
Debbie Montgomery, a grandmother, was next up. She was by far the funniest graduate. She had the audience in stitches as she joked about growing up with big breasts, which she referred to as “chesticles.” The audience doubled over with laughter when she started pulling items out of her bra. The last thing she pulled out was a remote control. She was hilarious and I would love to see her again.
Logan Slater was up next and was moderately funny. It was kind of cute when, because he is biracial, he referred to himself as Half-Black Panther. Taylor Hawthorne, who I gather pretty much runs Richard Lawson Studios, was next up and joked about how she hates people, the dumb stuff people do (e.g., reversing on the freeway), dumb stuff people believe (e.g., the earth is flat) and the disgusting things that people do (e.g., wanting to shake hands while just exiting a bathroom stall). Taylor’s delivery was funny, especially as she finished with, “Be an asset to the world. Be a gift, not a d*ck.”
“Uncle Pete The Kiddies Treat” was funny on the surface, but considering the climate in which we live, may not have been in the best taste. Jokes about “Uncle Pete’s Touchie Feelie Show” and the word of the day being “secret” got lots of laughs, including by me, but I bet I was not the only one laughing who believed it was in poor taste.
The graduation was moved up a week because of pregnant Lauren Christie, who joked about her pregnancy, including “how her doctor sounds like her mother, who sounds like her V-jay jay.” She mentioned her husbands “stoner sperm” and her “geriatric egg.” She was funny, although since her entire skit was pregnancy related, it would be interesting to see what she does for an encore. The last graduate, Carla Marie, joked about her 30 years of sobriety and how her therapist told her she needed a creative outlet. She warned the audience she would moon us if we booed her. Speaking of showing your backside, stinking ones bother her and she thinks they should bring back bedets. She ended her skit with, “Eat right, exercise, drink plenty of water, but wash the azz.”
I could not help but wonder how far had these eight graduates come during the 12 week class. Some are naturals and others need a tad more seasoning for my taste, but I could see them all appealing to a crowd. Remember their names because they just might make it one day.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and are interested in Richard Lawson Studios and their various classes, there is an open class on October 16. You may want to check them out. You can register using this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/richard-lawson-studios-open-class-registration-50792420497.
Marilyn Smith is a Los Angeles based writer/reviewer. Contact her via [email protected].