You may remember – because I went on and on about it a few months ago – that my play Never Living had a staged reading at 5th Wall Productions in the western part of the Ashley in what we in the Lowcountry like to call Charleston, SC. You may also remember that I humble-bragged how great the experience was because the cast and director were perfect, blah, blah, blah.
In this case, the blah, blah, blah is skipping over even more effusive and mushy praise that is all 100% true, but that’s not what this post is about. This is about the actor who read the part of Ned Smiley, Deshawn Mason. My wife and I chatted with him after the reading, and it turns out in addition to being an actor, he’s also a stand-up comedian. He informed us that he was in a comedy festival competition and invited us to come to the show. I was, of course, petrified. I have a terrible poker face, and if I see him perform, and he’s not funny, I won’t be able to fake my way through phony accolades.
But he had done so well with the reading, and he’s such a personable kid, we decided we owed him the courtesy of watching him perform his art. In short, we went with the intentions of supporting a new friend, but we had somewhat muted expectations. Comedians are hard to find in huge metropolitan areas, one would think the odds are greatly diminished in a community the size of Charleston. We walked into Theatre 99 and committed ourselves to watching 10 comedians perform their best six minutes of material. To borrow a Mitch Hedberg sentiment, we were either going to hate it or love it – or feel so-so about it.
Much to our relief, the first comedian took the stage, and he was actually funny. I mean really funny. The second comedian took the stage, and the same thing. And then – DeShawn. Well, I’m a little embarrassed to have to admit that I had nothing to worry about. The kid was funny as hell. He knocked it out of the park, and it was such a relief. My ineffectual poker face could take the night off.
The comedians that followed delivered, too. There was zero bad material. Every comedian provided a lot of laughs. There were a few that just needed a little more stage work, but that will come. They all clearly know comedy.
Deshawn (2nd place), Jeremy McLellan (1st place), and Nick Alexander (3rd place) made it to the next round in the competition. They will be performing in December with the three comedians selected from tonight’s performance. If you’re in Charleston, I highly recommend you get your tickets for this evening’s round of the festival competition. If it’s anything like last night, it will be full of laughs.