African American playwright Darryl Stamp has created roles in Plan-B’s JUMP and (IN)DIVISIBLE. A member of Plan-B’s Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop, he makes his playwriting debut this season with a dramedy about stand-up comedy: “Roar” is one of four short plays that comprise …OF COLOR, premiering in March of 2019.
“Roar” comes from my personal experience as an amateur and professional stand-up comedian. As a two-time winner of Showtime’s Funniest Person in Kansas in the 1980’s, I competed against Ellen DeGeneres, who was named Funniest Person in America. I’ve experienced what it’s like to perform at various open mic nights, to fundraisers with hundreds of people in the audience, to opening for and working with other professional stand-up comedians. I’ve performed at the Santa Monica Improv, Charm City in Baltimore, the Comedy Cellar in New York City and various comedy clubs in Kansas, Missouri, and Louisiana.
The stand-up comedy writing process, the stress associated with entertaining audiences despite what’s going on in your personal life, and the exhilarating feeling you get when you hear audiences laugh is the inspiration for “Roar.”
Most comedic material is the expression of moments that run the gamut of experiences and emotions. Like Richard Pryor ‘s routine about catching himself on fire while freebasing cocaine (“… Save the balls! …”) to Robin Williams “Childbirth” (“… It’s like Winston Churchill and Gandhi had a baby …”), they’re all scripted, worked, amended, rehearsed, performed, and reworked in their earliest stages.
I’ve always believed in writing things down as soon as possible if I’ve experienced something funny or had an epiphany. It’s not unusual for me to get out of bed to write something down that could become material for a stand-up “bit,” or a moment within a moment in a scene in a play. Our first mentor for the Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop, Julie Jensen, taught us during the earliest stages of the workshop to do a little writing every day.
We learned to write things down and not worry about where it fits, or even if it fits. I’ve never found the constant editing, re-editing and fine tuning to be tedious. I find it rewarding when I finally figure out the ideal place for a specific moment. “Roar” is now a finished piece, ready to be performed, and I’m gratified and thankful for this process.
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