Now playing at The Revival Improv Comedy Theater, a sketch comedy revue dubbed, “Double Consciousness: A Guide to Being Black in America” tells stories through the lens of the black perspective to get audiences to laugh, reminisce and learn. Shows will continue through June 28.
From problems in the workplace and voter rights suppression, the sketches address issues commonly experienced by black people in America.
Natalie Green, the producer for the sketch comedy show, said there’s a lot for people to takeaway from the production.
“The meaning behind ‘Double Consciousness’ is conscious of what it is to be black in America,” she said. “It’s knowing you’re black and what it’s like to be a black American. It’s very perspective-based. There are four black writers. We come from all different backgrounds, and we’re all utilizing comedy to get across a message.”
The production draws some inspiration from Civil Rights activist W.E.B. DuBois and the idea of double consciousness, which is a concept he coined describing how one’s identity is divided into multiple parts.
“It is not 100 percent based off of that, but it definitely falls in line,” Green said. “He was clearly the one I was thinking about when the title came up.”
The sketch comedy show strives to entertain and educate, all while maintaining a mainstream appeal, which cast member Ty Riggs said he thinks is important in capturing the audience’s attention.
Cast member Briane Goodrum said she thinks there’s a disconnect in the way that people may perceive black Americans and their culture in today’s world, which makes the sketch comedy show all the timelier.
“I do think there can be a disconnect because of the media and what is shown, whether it be the news or what’s on a television show,” she said. “I think there are few television shows that accurately show black culture.”
Goodrum said she thinks the sketch comedy show will resonate with the audience, in part, because satire is a way of poking fun but also acknowledging there’s something deeper to examine.
Green said she wants the production to challenge the status quo.
“I battled with this a lot,” Green said. “Sketch is a very white-dominated field. There are some sketches where I am like, ‘I hope my white friends aren’t uncomfortable,’ but also I had to come to terms. They’ve probably done hundreds a shows themselves that I don’t know if anyone ever stopped to think about, ‘I hope my black friend isn’t uncomfortable.’ I had to come to the realization in order to use what I do to possibly educate someone else in a comedic and fun way.”
Cast member Charles Wagner acknowledged that sentiment, saying it’s “a challenge, too, because you never know how people are going to take it.”
Sketch comedy shows can often provide a way not only to entertain, but also to educate people, which cast member Lauren Walker said offers an interesting complex for performers.
“I think we can do both,” Walker said of entertaining and educating. “It’s important to educate, but the best way people retain knowledge is through laughter.”
Cast member Julie Merica said she likes the way the production provides a space to tell stories that otherwise are not told.
“I think it’s great to be put with others who are underrepresented in comedy,” she said.
Walker shared that sentiment.
“I do a lot of black comedy, but there definitely should be more,” she said. “There’s a need for it in the community. There’s not as much of it as I would like, but more and more people are getting involved and that’s cool to see.”
All the shows will take place at The Revival Theater, which Green said makes sense on many levels for this production.
“I chose this particular location because of the visibility that it has and also the demographics,” Green said. “All of the us—the entire cast—we all have an improv background. It feels great to be able to do it in a space, which is a beautiful space, along with being able to target the demographic that surrounds the area.”
Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students. For information, visit the-revival.com.