I Ain’t LL… So Call It A Comeback!

December 2008, Christmas Eve morning somewhere over Indiana I was done.  I was not feeling it and I was mad at myself.  So I quit.  The previous five days I had performed, every show was blah to me.  What made it worse was I was doing a week at the club I considered my “home” club.  Though I did not start there, when I moved there they were the first club to believe in me and push me to other clubs.  They believed in me and a week I was scheduled to perform for them, I was not giving them my all.  Again, I was done.

The most consistent dream of mine and the one that was within my grasp since the first time I snuck a listen of a Richard Pryor tape was to be a standup comic, as of December 2008 I was a comic and that was the only money I had coming in.  So my living was that of a standup comic, I had essentially reached my dream. I was not famous, had no credits, but I had enough work coming in to eat.  What was my problem?  I was faking it.  I was not talking about anything worth talking about; nothing was my voice except for the first 5 minutes I was on stage.  The only material I had that came directly from my life experiences were in the first 5 minutes and I killed the first 5 minutes EVERY NIGHT!  Any comic will tell you to get the crowd in the palm of your hands in the first few minutes makes everything else a breeze.

The rest of my stuff was funny, but not me, and it ate at me every night.  I had bits that kept the crowd with me, could give it to any heckler, and a closer that never failed.  Unfortunately, I was hoping for hecklers so I could shoot off the top of my head and improvise two minutes of jokes and insults so I could knock out a couple of jokes that ate at my soul to tell again.  There is great joy for a comic when you can riff and get a laugh, that’s when comedy becomes jazz, you are in the moment, and everything in the room becomes one.  Unfortunately for me, I was working clubs now where I was known and it was made clear to people, by others, when I was on stage it could turn into a very embarrassing situation for you and nobody wants to be in the middle of a situation.  So speaking when I had a mic in my hand, or yelling at me in the middle of  line, was only for those very secure with themselves and nobody is that secure outside of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Saturday night, I am sitting in the lobby of the hotel waiting for the very funny and nice Dwight Slade to come downstairs so we could roll out to the club and knock out two more shows.  Dwight noticed I was not ‘here’ and instead of waving me over so we could leave, he sat down in the seat next to me and asked “you alright”?  I told him I was not feeling my act.  He assured me I was funny and I the crowds were getting me.  I told him “no, except for my opening bit… I don’t believe anything I am saying and it is killing me”.  Dwight said “you might wanna take a break… after this week of course”.

So flying to Chicago for the holidays, over Indianapolis looking at downtown (where I had performed many times, as much as any place in the country)… I quit.  For some reason I decided I was going to work with kids in Chicago and for the last 4 years, I have done just that.  I have worked in some of the worse schools this country has to offer.  I have sat across from kids that would not live to sit across from me again.  I have seen what rough is and changed a life or two in the process.  I have experienced more pain and frustration.  I have been treated as if I am a threat because of my intelligence and as a joke (ironically) because of perceived lack of it.  I have lost more people who I love, but gained people who will love me unconditionally.

What I missed from comedy was a life to talk about.  So like Richard Pryor, who once walked away from comedy to observe and write about a life he could relate to, I walked away to live.  I now have a life, I now have a voice.  My brain is giving me jokes again, not lines that are funny but jokes that are twisted and express my thought process.  My jokes now are not clever; I am too old to be clever.  If I was a 22-year-old kid, I would need to be clever because I would not have done a damn thing worth talking about.  I am a college graduate, with years of work experience, a family to take care of, who has lost more people along the way other than an Iraq War Veteran.  I really do not care about what people care about what I say and I do not care if it offends anyone.  I have the truth, in the reality of my life, to talk about and that is where a comic lives and breaths, in the truth.

The gloves are off; I do not expect anything from a club, an agent, or a manager.  I want to get on stage and speak from my heart; I will be relentless and unapologetic.  You only get to come back once… So with that, like Jordan… appropriately, I’m BACK!  Back in the city I started in, Chicago… I am going to put the city on my back and take it with me wherever I go.  This time believing in every word I say and not protecting my pain or insecurities.  You’ll see me soon…

Happy Black History Month!! Today We Salute… The Candy Lady

The Candy Lady, yes her. She put more smiles on the face of kids then Michael Jackson during a sleepover at Never Land Ranch. She handed out more candy than the creepy neighbor that owned the van with no windows in the back.

Starting off selling penny candy out of her garage, she eventually built her clientele up enough to purchase a glass case to place candy in making it easy for everyone to see what they wanted and making her garage look like a real store.  She also added a picture to hang behind the glass case of the Last Supper, featuring Jesus and Black Apostles… Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Marvin Gaye and other dead Black people with first names beginning with ‘M’.  As the years moved on The Candy Lady was able to purchase the little building at the end of the block opening a “Corner Store” or as we call it “da coh-na sto”.

Ah yes… the Candy Lady’s Corner Store, you never knew how long the chicken had been out but when you did not feel like going 24 blocks to make sure your chicken was fresh and USDA approved she was your girl. The bulk of her business became lottery tickets, loose cigarettes, 40 oz brews, and hot fries… Selling questionable meat just allowed her to be open all day but she still had all the candy you wanted and candy is dandy!

The Candy Lady’s next purchase was the Cadillac she always had her eye on and a bunch of fur coats.  It was good to see someone in your neighborhood doing so well, especially someone as sweet as the Candy Lady. The Candy Lady’s store closed when the DEA discovered she sold some different candy, guess that explains the Cadillac she was rolling ain’t that much damn money is Jolly Ranchers and Chico Stix.  Turns out after the government cut the Candy Lady’s Social Security check she decided to flip her $350 check into more by selling weed.  Having a candy store just allowed her to not look funny sitting in her garage all day as grown men walked up to her all day long while they shook hands twice, looked over their shoulders, and then they ran off.

The Candy Lady went from selling nickel and dime bags, along with candy chews and quarter juices, to moving real weight.  She stopped being a street hustla to supplying the entire east side of town and putting her grandsons to work by tracking down nigga’s that owed her money.  The feds found out the real reason why she bought that glass case with the candy in it was to hide the 15 kilos of uncut that she kept at all times and block people from seeing her youngest grandson kneeled down holding a semi-automatic assault rifle… for when you started trippin’.

Currently serving 40 years of federal time… which at 69 years of age is LIFE!  The DEA said the Candy Lady was responsible for moving over 600 kilo’s of cocaine every year for over 9 years, 8 million dollars in marijuana distribution annually, the deaths of at least 19 gang members, and over $500,000 in payments to dentists by Medicaid to fix cavities for the kids in that neighborhood.  Happy Black History Month to the Candy Lady or as you are known to the youngsters on the block you live today… “02-CI7-9304-DU44-5822”

Happy Black History Month!! Today We Salute… My Big Long Black Chocolate Stereotype

Most things that happen to Black people are based on fears about what people have heard about us.  We are violent, emotional, uneducated, to name a few.  Many are hurtful and have damaged us as a community; people in our community have been killed based on the fears developed from misconceptions.  We have been kept out of institutions of higher learning and locked out of neighborhoods because of misguided beliefs.

Then there is that one ain’t one brotha complaining about, talk about how we all have rhythm and we show you our cousin that couldn’t keep the beat if you put a gun to his momma’s head and said you would blow it off if he pulled a Johnny Gill and clapped a half a second before or after everyone else.  Tell us we all are good at basketball and we will introduce you to our brother that gets picked after the Asian kid for a pick-up game (that’s how Jeremy Lin got so good).  Tell us we all like chicken and we show you our vegetarian cousin with the dread locks that eats organic foods and is skeptical about even eating tofu as a source of protein.  Tell us we all have big …. And we smile and say ‘well… heh… heh… heh’ (That’s me laughing).

So today on this day in Black History Month we thank you for the stereotype we ain’t marched against.  We hold on to this stereotype and thank you for sharing with everyone.  It helps that the only one’s of ours you have ever seen was the 6’7” basketball player your school recruited that walked around the locker room with his towel over his shoulder after he got out the shower.  If you have seen a little one on a brotha, what are you going to say?  You will sound like you spend your time at your gym hanging out by the lockers… looking to see if the myth of the Black man is true.  Freakin’ perv!

I don’t know if curiosity really killed the cat, but it did get it laid.  When a brotha gets to college he can smell the fascination from across the cafeteria.  You hinted at it so much, that Becky the Farm Girl, that has only seen Black people on television before getting to the University of We Here Too, wonders about it for months maybe even a couple of years that by the time her junior year rolls around she has the numbers for every football player that wears his hair in dreds or braids in her iPhone.  Then before you know it, you have a young lady that is going way too far out of her way to disappoint her daddy, heh… heh… heh…

Call us every ignorant thing you can come up with, every name you dream of, you put a stereotype on us that by the time it comes to prove if we measure up to it… who cares if we don’t we’re both here now and the lights are off.  Talk about us not having the tools, you then have to get into a conversation of why you were with us to begin with.  There is an entire division in the porn industry dedicated to the myth of the Black man. I can hear frat boys looking at those sites screaming “COME ON!!! THEY ALL CAN’T BE THAT BIG!” heh… heh… heh…

Black men could scream about a lot of things, we could scream every moment of our waking life.  No role models, poor prospects for a job, limited opportunities, if it wasn’t this big cock you say we have we really would be pissed.  Ever wonder why a trust fund kid says something to a brotha and the brotha doesn’t pop him upside his head?  Outside of police coming faster than a 22-year-old virgin, we generally appreciate this one stereotype.  The next time that brotha sees the guy, that he should have crushed, he almost feels obligated to thank him.  All the stereotypes he hurled about Black guys made his girlfriend slip the brotha her number with a message beneath it “I just wanna know if it’s true”.

Happy Black History Month to the stereotype we like!  It is nice to walk around with a mythical being tucked away beneath your saggin’ jeans.  I hate to cut this short, not something us Black guys usually do.  Let me hurry up and get out of here…  About to head over to a Black History Month celebration in honor of the movie Mandingo on campus, I need to shower, throw on some clothes, and toss my dick over my shoulder before I head out.  Heh… heh… heh…

Happy Black History Month!! In Memorium

As we approach the end of Black History Month we need to take time to pay tribute to and take a moment of silence for those no longer around.

Philadelphia soul man the late great Harold Melvin

West Coast Hip Hop pioneer DJ Yella

All time great football player Terrell Owens

Former Republican candidate for President of the United States Herman Cain

Herman Cain’s hoes

Tiger Woods inside a winner’s circle

The careers of actors after starring in Tyler Perry movies

Mya… after she turned 30

Big Tigger, A.J and Free

The NBA Slam Dunk competition

Jesse Jackson’s integrity

Self respect and Pride

Leroy from “The Last Dragon”

Black on Black love

Job opportunities for people with names ending in –niqua

Positive role models

Your pops!

Pelle Pelle gear

Juan Williams at Republican debates

The Old Spice guy

Money that is suppose to go to your church building fund

African American families on major network television

Steve Harvey’s hair, wigs, and hats

Accepting collect calls from nigga’s in the joint

Writing letter’s to nigga’s locked up in the joint

The careers of everyone in Destiny’s Child not named Beyonce

We take a moment of silence for all of you… MOMENT OVER!

Happy Black History Month!! Basketball, Rap, and Selling Crack

Today we honor the only three things a Black man can hope to find success in growing up in the hood… Basketball, Record Deals, and Crack sells.  Who in the hell do we think we are fooling?  Let’s be real, when was the last time you saw a 12-year-old Black kid say when he grows up he wants to be a CPA… NEVER!  Balla, Rappa, Hustla… IN THAT ORDER!  The only things celebrated on BET.

Hey you gotta get paid somehow, until there is a government program giving out free Nike’s a brotha has to figure out how to make that gwop (that is ‘street’ for money to all my Republican friends and anyone that is over the age 25 and does not work with kids all damn day).  In the words of the Notorious B.I.G. ‘either you slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot’.  Because the dream is the life, you don’t care how you get the money to afford the life as long as you get to live it.

Ball players, rappers, and drug dealers tend to run in the same circles even if on different levels.  The NBA player’s money is guaranteed, when the 6’7” guy that averaged 18.3 points, 5.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds over the last 3 years signs a 4-year $38 million dollar contract, he will see all 38 of them milli’s!  The rapper may get a half a million advance but if you don’t like his songs he doesn’t go on tour.  The rapper gets paid from performing; only a few guys in hip-hop are really making money when a rapper gets a show he is guaranteed to make money that night.  For the crack dealer, ain’t a damn thing guaranteed.

So the ball players throw the party and hire the rappers to perform at the party so they get to hang out.  The crack dealer can afford to buy tickets and a VIP table to the ball players party… if they don’t get pulled over by the Feds on their way to the party, ain’t a nothing guaranteed for him not even a 15 minute drive downtown.  The crack dealer can usually crack the inner circle of the balla and the rapper by, getting weed to the ball player (dude’s in the L smoke a lot of weed, trust me on this one), bringing X-pills for the trifling broads hanging out so they now have something to blame the freaky things they were going to do anyway on.  A gram or two of coke for the rapper… yep coke, when you see a rapper smoking a joint it is because he has an interview on TV or morning radio in ten minutes and needs to come down from the coke he was tootin’ that boy all night long.

Hood stars, the guys in the hood that get all the attention.  The basketball player gets the girls he got grown women in the 10th grade, the dope man has a FINE girl the only thing he is guaranteed, and the rapper… well they get a girl once they get a contract.  The life is about the women, you need the clothes, cars, and jewelry to attract the women.  You need the money to get the clothes, cars, jewelry and to keep the women.  So when you see basketball player that does not get drafted and has no other options because he never learned to read, when you see a guy with an incredible flow but unfortunately he turned 30 before he could sign his name to a record deal, and when you see a drug dealer’s laid out in the middle of street unrecognizable from the 39 bullets to his upper body… blame women.

So on this the 26th day in February, the day the NBA is having their All Star game (you thought it was a coincidence the NBA had this event in February?  Oh no, this is event on the Black Calendar… I once heard someone say “it’s more nigga’s at NBA All-Star weekend than in college”) we salute the 3 things that you see most during All-Star weekend, basketball players, rappers, and dope dealers.  Unfortunately you also saw a lot of boring dunks this year, but that is NOT the fault of women.  Happy Black History Month to hopes and dreams as limited as they may be.

Happy Black History Month!!! Today We Salute 3 White People

Even with all the accomplishments Black people have made, much of it could not be done without the assistance of White people.  So today we honor 3 random White people…  This is our version of Affirmative Action.

Abraham Lincoln, waking up one morning with a horrible hangover, after a night of drinking and joking around with his buddies and avoiding his wife.  Instead of going into his bedroom, where he would have to deal with his wife he walked into the Oval Office and decided to sleep there.  The next morning with that hangover and very little clue to what happened the previous night President Lincoln sat at his desk read the headline on the newspaper and screamed “I freed the WHAT!” This was the start of many things Black people could blame on the a/a/a/alcohol.

Jim Smith a printer in Mount Vernon, New York was well known and popular among people making things happen and planning events.  He was the first person anyone went to when you needed to get the right promotional stuff out and let the hood know that you had something they needed to be at.  One day the equipment he used to print concert posters stopped working properly and would be days to have it repaired or replaced.  The letters L, I, and S would not show up on anything he needed to print up and those are three very important letters in the English language…  just take a look at Wheel of Fortune, they just give you those three letters now days. He still printed the posters out but with some changes.  ‘Big Dave and His Intelligent Black Men’ became ‘Heavy D & The Boyz’ starting an era in hip hop where misspelled words and borderline ignorance became the norm.

Orville Redenbacher…  Yep him!  How does he get celebrated?  Let us tell you and it is not because we prefer to put hot sauce on his popcorn more than any other.  While Orville Redenbacher was getting his business going in Northern Indiana he would take trips to Chicago selling his popcorn and building a name for his business.  One day while on the Southside of Chicago a young Calypso singer yelled at Orville “Hey Cracker! Nice bow tie!” that singer became Louis Farrakhan leader of the Black Muslim Movement… Orville Redenbacher popcorn giant and fashion consultant to the Nation of Islam.

Happy Black History Month White People!!!!  Sorry about the use of the word ‘cracker’, please let us keep our month.

Happy Black History Month!!! Today We Salute… The Church Announcement Lady

The Church Announcement Lady… Oh we love her and her hat. She may not know your name unless you are on the ‘sick and shut in list’, or if she swears you rolled your eyes at her… once. She is the only person in the church that can put a five dollar bill into the collection plate and take out her change.

The Church Announcement Lady sits on every committee that makes up any rule the church has, although the rules never apply to her.  Like the one about arriving to church on time, but if circumstances keep you from arriving at the start please enter quietly and find the first available seat.  The Church Announcement Lady wrote that rule and announces it once a month.  She holds you to it, which would be cool if she wasn’t always 5 minutes late and if you are in her seat, she tells you “you in my seat” and then points to an available one in the back of the church that she just walked past.  That is your fault though, everyone knows that is her seat, people not only don’t sit in it, they don’t sit in the one’s next to it.

You may not care for her much, but I bet your kids act right when she walks into the room, because she spanks, and if you ever question her on why she put her hands on your kids she will tell you about your lack of parenting skills.  Then she goes into a long story about ‘back when’ she was growing up.  Which makes everyone wonder… how old is this chick?  She has a story about every pew, deacon, and pastor the church has ever had like she was there when it happened and the church was founded in 1892.

Really Church Announcement Lady we love and we you know not to sit in your seat, the one on the 2nd row, to the right, near the window, close to the exit because you always have to hurry up and get home because you left your beans on.  Can you do us a favor?  Not wear hats so big nobody sitting behind you can see the soloist.  Speaking of the soloist… let her sing, stop taking over everybody’s song you can’t sing.  That was rude; there is a better way of putting that so you know how you sound… you ever heard a cat in heat during the middle of the night?  Yeah that’s you.  One more thing, if you gonna wear knee highs with flats… can you roll them all the way up to your knee?  That just looks weird to see your knees between a floral dress and roll of stockings.  Happy Black History Month to you, especially since you have been around for much of it.