Hey, y’all! So I haven’t posted in the last week and some change because: hella reunions. I’ve been busy collecting my life and all of its belongings for my five-year reunion this weekend in Barbados with my amazing line Tenacious 43 Spring 2011 (#DST #AlphaMade). And last weekend I was kicking it with my kinfolk at our family reunion down in the sweltering heat of North Carolina. While I was spending some much-needed time with my family in NC, I was missing out on this dope new comedy show called Story Time With The Comedians, where different up-and-coming comedians team up with actors to perform their jokes in a variety of skits. STWTC was created by Detroit native Dana Elam, and last weekend was the second show since the production debuted earlier this year.
Just to give y’all a little background, Dana began her journey as a writer when she was 13 years old and gave her first spoken word performance in 2005 with the TruEssence poetry series. Since then, she’s performed in a number of poetry series, creating more opportunities for her to elevate in her craft. Dana has since produced and directed several series and short films including The Monologues of a Poet, Love Casualties and Journey. Her passion for writing combined with her experience as a producer and director ultimately helped fuel Dana’s desire to launch this amazing new series. Even though I was unable to catch the show last weekend, I was fortunate enough to speak with Dana one-on-one beforehand about her inspiration behind directing and producing STWTC. Check the dialogue below:
So how did you develop the concept for Story Time With The Comedians?
I’ve always loved trying new concepts and ideas that challenge the norm. I was speaking with a friend of mine and we were discussing how some people have started to script other comedians’ jokes and produce actual short films. I’ve seen it done a few times and I’m all about authenticity. I wanted to see the comedians who actually crafted and worked — and in some cases, reworked — their jokes, and give the narrative. Then I thought about how great would it be for them to actually see what we envision while they’re on stage. I know so many talented individuals and I wanted to combine their gifts and show the depth of their craft. So I spoke with some of the most talented comedians in Detroit and asked if they’d be interested in taking their funniest joke, creating a back story around it and allowing actors to perform that story as a skit. They loved the concept. So from there, Story Time With The Comedians was born.
How did you build connections with and bring together all the comedians involved?
The connections with the comedians started almost 10 years ago for some. When I was first introduced to open mic poetry, the setup was always a variety show. You’d of course have majority poets but comedians would frequent the venue looking to try out their material as well. I met almost all the comedians in the production that way. So we’ve grown together, cheered each other on and supported each other for years. I asked if they’d be interested and The other comedians I’ve met were through word of mouth. Normally a friend would approach me and ask me to keep a lookout for a specific person and if they were a good fit. I would ask my friend to set up a meeting so that we could discuss working together. Its a wonderful “band of creative” and we’re all like family now.
Are the acts completely scripted, improv or a combination of both?
The dialogue of the back story is scripted but they have room to make additions if it helps the story. I always tell them if there is an organic opportunity to “deliver the funny” go for it; if it feels forced, don’t. The comedians have the luxury of knowing the joke as they created it, so they will improv a lot of the story to make the connections for the actors. I love how well they work together and support each other to make everything flow easily. The comedians also have the ability to pause, play, rewind and fast forward their acts, which creates opportunities for more improv.
How has the show been received so far?
The show has been very well received. Many people who have attended say they love the unique concept of bringing the comedians’ jokes to life. The huge bursts of laughter I heard throughout the show was confirmation that we may have nailed it!
How often do you put on these performances?
I normally put on shows like this every three months. I would like to do them sooner but I like to give time to rehearse and promote. When you’re passionate about what you do, you have this “I’m ready to go now” attitude but you can’t forget to respect the process. Just make sure to stay consistent. #MajorKey
You can’t forget to respect the process. Just make sure you stay consistent.
How do you see STWTC evolving over the next couple of years?
I’d love to take this same format to other cities and states just to see how other people receive it. We might even tweak a few things to incorporate an element specific to other cities to make our audiences more familiar with the content. I want this concept to be open to all comedians and all actors, local to international. No limits.
Be sure to like/follow Story Time With The Comedians on Facebook for info on upcoming shows!
And check out the amazing STC cast and crew below. Make sure you look them up!