The UNC comedy scene is getting a makeover. Creatives of Color will be presenting their showcase, “Comedy in Color” April 12 at 8 p.m. at the TOPO Back Bar. The showcase will feature comedians of color from UNC and the Triangle.
Some of the performers are new to comedy, and some have been involved for a few years. Micah Hanner, a local comic who has been in the game for three years, will be performing.
Hanner has worked as an instructor for the new Creatives of Color comedians, offering advice on stand-up and the comedy-writing process. He said one of the most important parts of comedy writing is finding something that people can relate to.
“I try to take something real that’s happened to me, and then I try to find the things in which everyone can relate to. And then also try to mix it with something that’s unique about it,” Hanner said.
Creatives of Color wants to relate to more people at UNC – beyond the predominantly white comedy scene. Noni Shemenski, the founder of Creatives of Color, is creating a community for people of color in the arts at UNC.
“I wanted to make a space for people of color to do stand-up and any type of comedy at UNC, because there really isn’t that," Shemenski said. "And a lot of comedy troupes and organizations on campus are extremely white."
Pavani Peri, a Comedy in Color performer and False Profits member, said the group gives people of color an opportunity for expression.
“I think we tried really hard to get people who aren’t normally featured at typical comedy events on campus, whether there’s troupe shows, or Chapel Hilarity stand-up, or False Profits shows," Peri said. "I think it would be interesting to see more voices on UNC’s comedy scene, and to encourage people who’ve always thought about it."
Shemenski even recruited some of her own friends for the showcase, searching for people whose jokes would translate well to the stage. Comedy in Color gives them a chance to share their own experiences with an audience that will be able to relate.
“For people of color, it’s great to see your lived experiences reflected on stage, and hear people talk about things that you haven’t been able to articulate — or just the things you joke about in conversation," Shemenski said. "There’s something pretty sweet about being validated in that kind of way."
Hanner also said sharing your own experiences and observations about the world is an important part of stand up, but not all of it.
“If you talk about something interesting, that’s half the battle," Hanner said. "'Cause if they’re not laughing, at least they’re listening."
The other half is making people laugh — and Hanner said Comedy in Color will make you laugh.
For the future, Creatives of Color will continue creating a space for people of color — a space where people in the arts can connect, educate and make people laugh.
“We want to keep creating these unique spaces where people who enjoy all different forms of art, for them to authentically be themselves — and know that they can work with other people of color, creatively and artistically," Shemenski said. “A lot of these art spaces are very white. We just want to create this network that reflects your identity and allows you to be represented in any art form you want.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.