Nashville-based comedian, poet and actor Renard Hirsch recently taped his first appearance on the all new “BET Gospel Comic View – A Time to Laugh” hosted by Gospel singer Vickie Winans. Renard is writing a series of articles for NashvilleStandUp about his experiences.
I got a call from one of my comedian friend, Cuzz, in Memphis, and he told me that they were having auditions for BET’s new gospel comedy show the next day in Atlanta, and he told me he was going and I was like, “cool, let’s go.”
So we get down there and there are about 75 comics there for the auditions. We filled out the paperwork for the auditions then they inform us that we will have two minutes to do out best material. And everybody was like, “Two minutes? that’s like two and a half jokes.” So we are all sitting there wracking our brains trying to figure out what two or three jokes that we are going to do and wondering how we were going to audition.
We didn’t know if we were going to audition with all the comedians in the room or if they were going to kick everybody out and let us just audition for the judges. Usually comics don’t like to perform in front of other comics because they usually don’t laugh that much because they are concentrating on the jokes that they are about to perform, but in this case it worked out because we only had two minutes of material to do, so I assumed everybody had a good idea of what jokes they were going to do.
There were comics from Detroit, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Los Angeles, Ohio and Tennessee and all of the comics were pretty supportive of each other. There were a few comics that did material that was inappropriate for the clean crowd and the comics made jokes about it. My number was 48, so I had a good long wait.
Halfway through the auditons they introduced us to Vikki Wynans who would be hosting the show. She came to the stage told a few jokes then sat and watched the rest of the auditions. After every 15 comics or so they would have to change the tape. There were no introductions or music for the comics coming to the stage. You had to come up say your name and where you were from then go into your material.
After all the comics went up they announced the 20 comedians that they wanted to come back to the club at 7:00 and perform in front of a live audience. Cuzz and I ended up advancing to the second round. So to kill the time we got something to eat, did some cocaine with some strippers, smoked some weed and got our minds ready to tell some good clean Christian jokes!!
Just kidding. I had to put that in there because I read a blog about the auditions the next day that was complaining about how there was a strip club next to the comedy club.. how some of the comedians were cussing outside of the auditions, and how some of the comedians weren’t “all the way saved.” What? How do you know if somebody is “all the way saved!?” Don’t judge lest ye be judged. Take the plank out of your own eye before you blow the dust out of mine, or however that scripture goes. Anyway.
When it was time for the 7:00 show they put us all in the V.I.P. section and told us we had two minutes to perform and that we couldn’t leave and then they took us 10 at a time in a single file line to sit beside the stage. I felt like a first grader. All I needed was for a grownup to tell me to put my finger over my lip and tuck my shirt in. Most of the comics did different material from what they did in the morning audition, but I remembered a comic told me that comedian Griff won the Bay Area competition doing all the same jokes so figured that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and did all of the same jokes. Cuzz and I both had good sets and some of the people from BET told us that they enjoyed our sets, so we were optimistic about getting picked to tape the actual show next week. Then we drove back to Nashville and then the waiting game began.
To Be continued..
See Renard Hirsch perform in Nashville March 12, 2009 at 10 p.m. at Fisk University and on March 18th at 7:30 p.m. at Zanies.