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Theater Review : CQ Comedy Showcase @ The Kennedy Center

Renowned DJ D-Nice, a legendary figure in the hip-hop world, returned to The Kennedy Center for a weekend Residency with his highly acclaimed Club Quarantine Live event. The Residency started on Friday, October 6th, with an unforgettable comedy show. It's worth mentioning that D-Nice made history by becoming the first DJ and hip-hop artist to headline and sell out the prestigious Kennedy Center Opera House.

The CQ Comedy Showcase, curated by D-Nice and hosted by Tisha Campbell, was an event that highlights the best talent in the comedy industry. Renowned comedians like Chris Spencer, Flex Alexander, Gina Yashere, Michael Che, Sherri Shepherd, and Zainab Johnson come together to perform on this platform.

The show started with DJ Clark Kent warming up the crowd with classic Hip Hop and R&B tunes. The evening's host, Tisha Campbell, kicked off the night with an attempt at live comedy. With nearly five decades in the entertainment industry, Campbell has always radiated a natural radiance, but stand-up isn't her strong suit.

While I acknowledge that it was Tisha's debut as a stand-up comedian, I couldn't help but notice her nervousness and lack of proficiency in delivering punch lines. From discussing the challenges of being a single mother to admitting to not understanding emojis as a cougar, Tisha's topics were diverse but failed to resonate with the audience.

Although she has showcased her improvisational skills in the past while hosting awards shows, this time, she seemed to need help. It would have been better if she had collaborated with DJ Clark Kent to introduce each comic with a fitting Hip Hop or R&B track that matched their personality.

Zainab Johnson was the first comic up, and she had a robust set. Johnson's set incorporated wisecracks about home buying, generation, and gun ownership. Yashere was quick with her quips, and I look forward to seeing more of her material.

Flex Alexander was up next, kicking off his portion of the show, entering the audience with his dancing skills. Flex's performance revolved around themes of fatherhood and aging, culminating in a personal testimony about overcoming his financial struggles.

The next comedian to perform was Sherri Sheppard, who brought a joyful energy to her act. She started with a funny song about mumbo sauce and then talked about her experience going through a public divorce and overcoming difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After Sherri, veteran comedian Chris Spencer took the stage in a stylish red suit, bringing a mature presence to the show. He got the audience laughing with jokes about fasting, dieting, and raising children, but the best part of his performance was how he linked all his jokes.

Before Michael Che closed out the night, Gina Yashere had a chance to shine. She provided insight into her deep connection with her African heritage, her experience of coming out, and the unfortunate incident of being physically assaulted following one of her performances at the DC Improv.

The final act of the show was SNL's Michael Che. Although Che is known for his work on the show, his stand-up comedy can sometimes be inconsistent. Having seen Che's performances before, I found that most of his jokes were updated versions of ones I had heard before. He covered topics such as being hit on by a gay man while getting drinks and the importance of cultural sensitivity.

After Che's set, D-Nice asked DJ Clark Kent to cut loose on the turn tables, which turned the Opera House into a club. While the night wasn't a full-on laugh riot, it was a perfect appetizer for D-Nice's weekend residency.

Final Grade : B+


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