Now that the shenanigans of New Year’s have come to a quick halt, we can all focus on more important things like looking ahead to a new, and hopefully prosperous, new year. And while most of us have given up on the whole “new year, new me” mantra, we still look forward to new positive experiences. Lucky for me, I was able to get a preview of the laughter that 2019 can bring before the countdown even began.
Last week was my boyfriend’s friend’s birthday. Whew, that was a mouthful. And this year, his girlfriend rallied us with a group text inviting everyone out to a show at The Comedy Zone. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Charlotte’s very own Fortune Feimster earlier this year, I’m not a huge fan of going to comedy shows when I’m not familiar with the comedian’s work. After all, not everyone has the same sense of humor.
It wasn’t until the day before the show that someone finally asked who the featured comedian was going to be. And to my surprise, I actually knew who it was: Luenell Campbell! My first response once I realized I recognized her? “She’s nasty!” (If you’ve seen her, you know that’s the best adjective to describe her.)
The first time I saw Luenell was in Katt Williams: American Hustle and I was consumed with laughter as soon as her character appeared on the screen. Luenell is a 59-year-old woman with a boisterous personality and a raunchy, free and in-your-face way of talking about sex that’s hard to overlook and even harder not to laugh at. It was official, I was sold on the birthday game plan.
We walked into the cozy basement that is The Comedy Zone and were welcomed by a banner with Luenell’s face in rhinestones on it. We settled in at a table right near the exit on the upper level. (It was actually the perfect location — we could see the stage easily, go to the bathroom quickly, get our drinks faster and make a swift exit once the show was over.)
As soon as the first opener stepped on stage, I was reminded of why I love comedy so much, especially in conversational settings. Comedy, when executed in a positive way, presents a unique opportunity to bring people together. No matter your race, political affiliation, sexuality or gender, a good comedian will make you laugh until you cry, even if the joke is on you.
Needless to say, by the time the quirky, blonde-haired Luenell danced her way onto the stage, with a drink in hand, we’d completely let our guards down. And by the time she started talking about interracial relationships, my boyfriend and I were quite comfortable laughing at a topic that is one we’ve navigated for over a year. (Race being one of those topics, I might add, in which comedy can be used to bridge gaps when tough conversations arise.)
Luenell proceeded to make light of often tricky waters by comparing the experiences of interracial couples to specific, often hilarious, situations that take place during the holidays or family gatherings. She quickly categorized those situations into three different challenging (or controversial) areas: culture, culinary and religion.
Now, I’m no comedian by any means. Therefore I won’t bore you with a feeble attempt to reproduce her jokes, it’s one of those situations when one must say, “You had to be there.” But you can only imagine how creative a comedian can get when you’re talking about Thanksgiving food, a girl named Becky and say, prayer before a large family meal.
Throughout her incredible series of jokes, I looked around the room to see whether or not members of the audience were visibly uncomfortable — I take huge issue and feel an overwhelming amount of second-hand embarrassment during awkward moments. Everyone seemed to be genuinely having a good time. And oddly enough, I felt even closer to my boyfriend.
We (and when I say we, there’s a huge “I” implied) often get caught up in all of our differences that we forget how to appreciate them. Comedians help us realize that while differences exist, we don’t have to be tied down by anger or hate. Instead, we can drink, laugh and be merry.
I don’t know the next time you’ll be able to catch Luenell at The Comedy Zone, but you can get a good laugh there almost every day of the week. Whether you’re planning a birthday or you just need a break from reality, I guarantee the trip will be worth the laughs.