An all-Guyanese cast of five actors and two singers, plus two friends, graced the stage of Tropical Breeze on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, on Sunday, Sept. 18, for “Comedy Meets Music,” hosted by Shoan Sampson and Oneil Alexander of Caribbean Power Jam Radio (CPJR).
According to popular Guyanese actress and dancer Dr. Rose October, it was the persistence of CPJR’s fans who called CPJR requesting such a treat, after they witnessed Chow Pow’s performance at the CPJR-sponsored Guyana Day Cultural Festival 2022 at Coney Island Amphitheater on Aug. 28.
“The fans’ requests created the opportunity for Guyanese in the Diaspora, specifically, New York to experience the relatable comedic materials that were strategically penned,” Dr. October said. “Shoan and Oneil heeded, Comedy Meets Music was planned in two weeks, and it was a resounding success.”
They remarked, “While we were convinced the show would have been good, we did not expect it to be that good…we have to do this again”.
The emcee, Kirk Jardine, fondly called Chow Pow, one of Guyana’s best comedians. was the lead on stage.
He voiced, “Performing in the USA is quite different than Guyana because the audience is more open-minded and one can explore his topics as he sees fit.
“My style of comedy fits into the style of the American comedians, so it was easy for me to fit in,” he added.
Dr. October said his mantra before, during and after the production was “Guyanese in the Diaspora are starved of being entertained by their own artists.”
She said he has been and continues to be vocal that that there are many talented Guyanese artists in the United States who are not being given the opportunity to play to Guyanese audiences; “hence, and what better way than to do this by embracing the production, Comedy Meets Music.”
As the emcee, Chow Pow who is on vacation, reminded the Tropical Breeze venue audience of his comedic prowess by making sure they remained doubled over from laughter throughout the show, Dr. October said.
She said the comedy-starved audience was not disappointed. as they welcomed him and other cast members.
The actors were drama stalwart, Andre Wiltshire; actor Sheldon Brathwaite; newcomer Laured Stewart; and the outstanding female dancer and actress Leslyn Bobbsemple; along with Guyanese topnotch singers, Zebulun De Counselor and Brandon Harding.
“The seemingly most memorable moment of the evening was undoubtably the skit, ‘Statue’” Dr. October said.
Andre, who was the “statue” shared, “My favorite for the night was the statue. Being able to freeze (in position) with the laughter and comments was challenging.”
Chow Pow weighed in, “My best skit of the evening was statue,” and so did Dr. October and Unita Clarke-St. Romain, among many of the audience, who thought that Andre showed his years of training and professionalism as an actor in this role, as he remained still in one position for what seems like forever after he was caught with another man’s wife.
The punchline for this skit was the husband’s (Chow Pow’s) empathy shown to the statue (Andre) because he (Chow Pow) had a similar experience at another man’s house, and the husband (Chow Pow) gave the statue (Andre) a drink of water, which the statue, Andre, accepted before bolting like lightning from the house, Dr. October said.
She said The audience erupted with laughter, stating that “Sheldon took you through mixed feelings, as he was adorable and frustrating (at the same time to watch) as a student who admitted to his teacher that he is an idiot” (pure laughter).
Another memorable moment was with Sheldon, a newly released convict who breaks into a couple’s (Laured and Leslyn’s) home making demands, and asks the wife where in the house he could find the “Vaseline”, after Sheldon had his eyes on the husband, as a newly prison-released convict.
Both Leslyn and Laured agreed that the skit with the school teacher was their favorite.
Laured also spoke about his enjoyment regarding his debut as a solo stand-up comedian with the routine about his wife’s friends.
Leslyn reflected, “Oh Sunday night was so nostalgic for me, seeing so many people I haven’t seen is so many years, the response was overwhelmingly beautiful… my favorite skit was the school teacher.”
In this skit, Leslyn was the school teacher who had to deal with students (Andre, Sheldon and Laured) who were “idiots” in her class and were making fun of her.
In reflecting on growth for the show, she said, “I hope we can add some dances to the show, and then we can name it ‘Comedy Meets Dance and Music!’”
Dr. October said Guyanese singers, Zebulun De Counselor and Guyanese two-time Calypso Monarch, Brandon Harding, performed between skits, and were well received by the audience.
“They were thrilled to be a part of this Guyanese event, as the audience was responsive to their outstanding performances,” Dr. October said. “In keeping with their service to the Caribbean population worldwide through their online radio, CPJR’s embrace of the various genres of music, including reggae and soca, allowed for reggae singer, Zebulun and soca singer, Brandon to entertain the audience, full force.
“It must be noted that Chow Pow lives by his words. and he believes in creating opportunities for others,” she added. “This was not only displayed by the inclusion of the newcomer, Laured. in this production, but also by extending an invitation to upcoming comedian and singer, Bradley Sampson, aka ‘Doggie’ and the young, Don Johnson aka Don J, respectively, who joined Brandon on stage. They were given the opportunity to perform for the audience in real time.”
During the show, Chow Pow informed the audience, “When we push for one, we push for everybody.”
In retrospect, Leslyn note, “the amount of talent that was in that room, I don’t know if anyone realized it.”
Andre: “Everyone was above their game…the audience was interactive. It was simply rollicking.”
Chow Pow: “I always knew that we were capable of being international; all we needed was the opportunity to showcase ourselves. Thanks Power Jam, you made it possible. I am forever grateful.”
As Chow Pow gets ready to return to Guyana in a few weeks ending his vacation, he pinpointed, “It fulfilled a longing in me to perform to a Guyanese audience in the USA. What made it more special was the fact that I got to perform with some of the finest Guyanese actors that live in the USA.”
Donations are being made to support one of Chow Pow’s community ventures in Guyana – school supplies for the children of Rose Hall Village, Berbice, Guyana.
The entire cast extends thankfulness to the CPJR for embracing such a venture and their continued promotion and hosting of Guyanese and Caribbean forums and events.
“Big thanks to the audience, Talk A D Town Radio, and everyone else who contributed to the success of this event,” Dr. October said.