You appear as one of the competitors in the All-Star Lineup for the Amazon Original series LOL: Last One Laughing Canada streaming now on Amazon Prime. What did you enjoy most while working on this project?
What I really loved about working on this project was getting to work with all of my fellow cast mates. It was really the who’s who of Canadian comedy and to share a stage with all of them was a true honor. I particularly loved meeting Debra & Caroline! They are two comedians who I’ve looked up to my entire life! I actually got into comedy because of them so being on a show together is kind of a crazy full circle moment.
What can audiences expect from this series?
It’s crude, it’s rude, it’s cute, it’s a hoot. Honestly, it starts off family friendly and slowly turns into something you might see in a Circus sideshow or a season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story. Honestly, I don’t know how we didn’t get arrested for some of the things we did.
What was the inspiration behind the Ethnic Rainbow? Did you feel there was a lack of representation for comedians in the LGBTQ community?
There are multiple layers to this! So, basically in comedy gay men particularly tend to be at the bottom of the barrel. Not a single gay man has been able to reach the same success as our lesbian counterparts (think Ellen, Rosie, Wanda, etc.)! I knew it was going to be much harder for someone like me because no white man had done it! Why would may gay black ass have a chance? Especially since I knew of 0 gay black men doing comedy at the time. There were no people I could really look to for guidance either. It was very isolating, and I vowed to start a show for people like me if there was ever an opportunity and that literally took almost 10 years for that to be possible. Now, when things started to change and there were more LGBT or BIPOC shows popping up, I realized I still felt alone at them because on the queer shows it was all white people and on the BIPOC shows everyone was straight! I felt it was time to try and do the show and lucky for me there was a queer comedy boom and many of these new comedians were people of color. I feel things have gotten better in terms of representation for the LGBTQ+ community! But I think it’s still very white. It has gotten slightly better in that regard of LGBTQ+ BIPOC though. The New York Times just did an article on the new wave of gay male comedians taking over and many of them are BIPOC! But that is in America, Canada still has a lot of work to do.
Your debut album Capricornication is the first comedy album released by a gay black Canadian. It also went number one on iTunes Canada Comedy charts. What was that experience like for you?
It was a crazy time. I recorded my album before the pandemic! I didn’t even know if I should release it. Usually, when one releases an album, there’s a big show you do with your friends, and everyone comes to buy it! All the normal things you’d do during an album release weren’t possible due to Covid. My label actually had to keep sending me messages like, “What’s going on? We can just release it on your behalf!” But I decided to get my ish together for it and it really helped! I raised almost 5 K for three charities and that was the coolest thing about the experience for me. It really also changed my life. No one really was checking for me before & then I was blessed with so many opportunities. My album even got picked up by NPR which is crazy to me because I’m just a little black boy from the hood in Canada! I didn’t think any of this was possible for me ever.
Are you currently working on any other projects?
I am currently developing a one person show with the Theatre Centre in Toronto! It’s gonna be about the breakdown I had in 2013 which caused me to stop doing comedy for three years. I’m also still doing pieces for This Hour Has 22 Minutes and I’m also working on a show I can’t speak about yet! But it’s all cool and I feel very blessed.
Top 5 Favorite standup specials?
1) Um, Jesus Is Magic by Sarah Silverman is a masterpiece. I used to watch it every time I did a two-minute spot at amateur night when I first started. I loved it so much!
2) Wanda Sykes’s I’ma Be Me really taught me about stand-up and exploring REAL topics. It’s so good and a true master class in comedy.
3) Mo’nique’s “I Coulda Been Your Cellmate” is one of the funniest things I’ve ever watched. I still quote it daily! I hope to do a special for the queer block of a prison one day and follow in her footsteps!
4) Kathy Griffin: Strong Black Woman, it’s an amazing special even though the name of it didn’t age the best. I love her stories. People don’t give Kathy enough credit but she’s a legend. I’m glad she’s back now.
5) I really loved Tiffany Haddish’s They Ready special where she gave specials to comedians she loved. In particular, I loved Flame Monroe’s set! She’s an amazing comedian who happens to be trans and her stories are some of the best.
6) Bonus! Chaunte Wayans set was also sooo good. She’s the niece of the Wayans Brothers and her stories about coming from the “broke” side of the family are genius
Amber S. Hawkins is a Lifestyle & Entertainment blogger hailing from The Bronx, NYC. A few of her goals are to learn to play at least one instrument and have a cozy home away from city life. Stay connected with Amber on Instagram @Ambbamm__