Lives Worth Living Through Humor
Local Bay Area comedian Dara M Wilson talks about why she was personally called to the stage, and how humor is handed down from generation to generation in the Black community.
"A life consumed with only anger, even righteous anger, is no life at all. That's why I think humor is so endemic to the Black community. We've had lots of famine and not enough feast."
You can catch her performing this Friday, December 18 at 6 p.m. as part of the woman-fronted stand-up comedy show “The Amazonians.”
Below is a transcription of comedian Dara M Wilson, performing in a recent comedy show via webcam. Listen to the segment by clicking the player above.
I work in tech so I work with alot of guys with tall white man confidence, you know? It's truly and epidemic we are not talking about. Even the short ones just oozing confidence that is just unfounded and pervasive.
And not me, I’ve never been like that. I've had some success in my life but I still feel like an imposter. So I am trying something different. I’m thinking of myself as a scammer.
Yeah, it’s very empowering. Like, when I interviewed I wore my hair in a little natural poof of hair like a little oh! I’m one of the good ones poof!
You know? I waited a few weeks to show up with my 24 inch purple Havana twist, you know like down to here. And I had the hair and the big earrings and I wear a lot of very loud clothes. And sometimes I even look in the mirror and I’m like wow she’s ethnic.
So I know they were struggling. I know when they hired me they were like, “Oh we caught one. A Black.” And I know that because I am the Black. I’m the rarest Pokemon of them all.
And they saw the hair change happen and you know the whole thing, and they were like, “Oh, she is Black Black.”
Yes that’s right Tribeca, you have been scammed.
“Lots of folks think comedians are sad. Or particularly sad. But I don't do comedy because I'm sad. I do comedy because I'm furious. My sadness is incidental to the whole affair. The James Baldwin quote "To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time" rings in my ears on a loop,” Dara M. Wilson says.
“I'm brimming with anger at the injustices that so frequently color the Black experience, and without an outlet, that rage would feel impotent. I've tried to combat that impotence with the agency that comes from community building, but I needed something more than righteous commiseration with my brothers, sisters, and kinfolk- I also needed the stage and the mic to speak truth to power: to let Black people know "I feel you," and to let white people know "I see you, and you ain't slick."
If I didn't have my platform and the sugary tonic of humor to help the medicine of the message go down, my fury would dry me to a husk, and then swallow me whole.
A life consumed with only anger, even righteous anger, is no life at all. That's why I think humor is so endemic to the Black community. We've had lots of famine and not enough feast.
But we've made lives worth living through humor. Humor as a tool for survival is passed from generation to generation. Almost ritualistically: a childhood peppered with the ecstatic joy of listening to elders pop off jokes at each other at a barbeque that's lasted well into the night- adulthood marked by the elation felt when you've finally grown old enough to participate. It's in our bones and our blood and our sweat and our tears. It's why we're still here.”