“We are not a monolith!” is the clarion call opening of an eclectic fusion of stand-up, sketch, and improvisational comedy called “Black Side of the Moon.” Produced by The Second City, the play explores Blackness and sexuality in the era of Trump.

‘Black Side of the Moon’ showcases comedy in the age of Trump. (Courtesy Photo)

‘Black Side of the Moon’ showcases comedy in the age
of Trump. (Courtesy Photo)

Using a style made famous by comedians like Paul Mooney, Richard Pryor and Moms Mabley, the cast dives into an abyss of racial stereotypes, misgivings, and blatant lies, utilized by social and political figures to court divisiveness in the American public.

A near-capacity crowd at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Northwest D.C. recently laughed to tears in what many viewers called a catharsis amid polarized racial conflict.  The sextet of performers, made up of Angela Alise, Sonia Denis, Dave Helem, Torian Miller, Felonious Munk, and Dewayne Perkins, offer a no-holds barred look at everything from Blacks in slasher films, the inability to separate Bill Cosby from the sexual assault charges he is facing, to the heavy hearts many Americans feel with the end of the Obama administration.

Far from depressive, the hard truths of each performance, whether in the forms of songs, stand-up or sketch performances, was the simple irony of its attachment to blackness.

“The idea of taking an all-Black group of performers and doing something that isn’t normally an all-Black thing was the point,” ensemble member and former regular on the “Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore,” Felonious Monk told the AFRO.  “It’s a new group, almost in-between the urban comedy scene and the mainstream comedy scene – a subversive kind of middle ground where there are a bunch of people that don’t fit either stereotype but they’re funny and they have a very unique perspective.”

“This is one of the most poignant performances I’ve seen in many years because it forces you to deal with your own biases,” theatergoer Harriet Eccles told the AFRO.  “How we define blackness, as Black people is often hindered by what others think of us, our looks, our mates, and our behaviors.  We are not a monolith though, so my dark skin, natural hair and pro-Black stance in no way sways because my husband of fourteen years is White.”

Eccles, along with her husband Dave and his parents, Robert and Diane said they found the cast to be ‘spot on’ in discussing race at a time with a lot of anger and suspicion.

“The nation has been beautiful, historically, in looking at ourselves and judging our behaviors as bigoted or racist so that we can try to come to a common ground. That’s what Archie Bunker and Dick Gregory were trying to convey – that sometimes you make an ass out of yourself hating, hurting others,” Robert said.  “Tonight we hashed out a few things, I learned some things and everyone in the room laughed some of the anxiety away. We needed this.”

That release was as it should be, according to director Billy Bungeroth.

“There have been two brands of comedy: escapism comedy and political comedy, or what could also be called satire. In just speaking your mind, being observational, and talking about the shit that’s going on, this group is putting together funny material but also major satire,” Bungeroth told the AFRO.  “It’s a good time in comedy because there’s not a division of satire and escapism, you can have both in the same room.”

Black Side of the Moon runs through January 1 at the Wooly Mammoth in Washington, D.C.