After being away from the Apollo for over a year, I found myself returning two consecutive weeks. Last week, November 12, I attended my second Smart, Funny and Black show created and hosted by Amanda Seales. This week was the taping of the 2021 BET Soul Train Awards. Check-in/holding rooms for what as far as I could tell was an all-Black audience was at the Magic Johnson theater on 124th St. The actual show was taped a short jaunt on 125th St. at the legendary Apollo. Recap: Harlem, Magic Johnson Theater, black audience, BET, Soul Train Awards, Apollo Theater. Blackity Black Black event.
Smart, Funny, and Black returned to the Apollo as part of the weeklong New York Comedy Festival. Last night’s Blacksperts were the hilarious Tituss Burgess (he can sang!) and Michelle Buteau. They both came onstage decked out in yellow. They said it was unplanned. Amanda Seales was backed by her band, The Clapbacks.
Merry Wives is based on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, which I never had to read for school (or heard of). The usual syllabus suspects in high school and college were Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, The Tempest, Twelfth Night…but I digress. The remixed adaptation by Jocelyn Bioh centers around Nigerian (the Fords) and Ghanaian (the Pages) immigrant families living in Harlem, trying to agree on marriage terms for their daughter and nephew. The supporting cast involves a Senegalese doctor, and the sole American character Falstaff, a native Harlemite. There’s a twist that the audience, but not the families, are privy to.