DCH Remix is blog series will explores the diversity of Dallas Comedy House. It will consist of interviews of students and performers who identifies as a person of color to learn about their creative journey here at DCH.
At last week's improv jam, I introduced myself to Chris Beasley and we had lovely chat in the PDogs green room. He is a new face to the DCH Improv Program even though he has been seeing shows here for the past 5 years. He is a Dallas native, Texas A&M alumni, Eagles Scout, and a history teacher.
Tyla Gibson: What drew you here to DCH?
Chris Beasley: What drew me here ironically: About 5 years ago, I worked for CBS Radio and the guys I worked with were the K&C Masterpiece, Kevin and Corey, and they were just hilarious and so funny. They asked to me to step into a role on their show but I turned it down because I didn’t think I was funny enough to vibe with them. Fast forward to a month ago, I tore my Achilles and I had surgery on it. After the surgery, I ended up with blood clots in my lungs and had to be hospitalized. Every doctor told me that I could have easily died so it was good that I was in there. When something traumatic happens, you look back and think what have I been doing? Where am I at? I looked back to when I turned down that position. I decided that I was going to start over. I’m going to get funny. I’m going to do what I need to do to feel confident about my delivery or whatever it is. Now I’m going to try to go back to CBS and see they have a role for me and grow myself in that world. That’s why I’m here and I’m not wasting anytime.
TG: That’s really dope! I’m really proud of you being able to make that first jump. I guess it is true when you go through something traumatic, you gain a whole new perspective on life.
TG: So what level are you right now?
CB: Level 1 Improv. I started on Sunday!
TG: Oh so you just started. Oh you’re a baby!
CB: I know but I've got to get saturated. I figured I start coming to shows right away and not waste anytime.
TG: What shows have you seen so far and what have you’ve like about them?
CB: I’ve been to several improv shows. I don’t know the troupe's name, but we’ve talk about this in class. The funniest thing that I see is when they harp on the realities of the world and repeatedly go at the same joke. Like you become a part of the troupe when you sitting there watching them do it and it just becomes hilarious. Just seeing the community vibe and the audience being a part of the show. It's like you get a family feeling when watching shows, so that’s what I’m looking forward to being apart of.
TG: Ok! Have you played at the jam or is this your first time?
CB: This is my first time. So with the injury, I’m a little hesitant of getting on stage until I can walk really well. But once I can do that, then I’m hopping in for sure.
TG: Do you feel like you’re included here at DCH and how do you like the vibe here?
CB: You know what’s empowering about meeting people here is that you realize there’s a little bit of diversity with every person here. As far as interacting with people thus far, I’ve met people from all walks of life. My improv instructor, Scriven Bernard, is a member of the LGBT community and he wouldn't hesitate to be himself here, which promotes the same kind of message to someone that you can be yourself here. So that’s what I’ve felt so far especially being a minority in this world. You learn that some places you don't need to be yourself because it will draw too much attention to yourself and get you in a hairy situation. But that’s not the case here from what I noticed so far and that’s amazing. The Trayvon Martin incident happened a few years ago and that was the first thing that shook my world of what it means to be black in America. It shook me pretty hard because this kid was really killed and no one seemed to bat an eye. I produced a video called Black Does Not Equal Fear. It did fairly well. In a 2 or 3 days, it had 50 thousand views on YouTube. I went to the Katie Couric Show because of it and I meet lot of people including Trayvon’s parents. It was a wake-up call to me. There are still some issues because you think when you’re young “No, we live in a post Civil Rights era and things has been taking care of. The people before us handled all that.” You learn that's not the case. Now it’s definitely out there that people of color had been killed multiple times if its by a civilian or a police officer or whatever that might be. I’ve learned that people don’t like talking about it.
TG: Right! And how would you bring that awareness and conversation here on stage?
CB: I would love to learn how to skillfully bring a little humor around a sensitive subject without making too much light of it, but to make people comfortable and get them ready to have that conversation. I’ve been having it straight out and it's like hitting someone with a brick. They’re not ready!
TG: Right! I think that’s an advantage that stand-up comics have. They can be able to tell their truth but make it easy for the audience to swallow the pill. Have you thought of branching out to stand-up or are you just going one step at a time?
CB: My plan is to be very focused. I’ve learned that I need to put myself out there because if I stay comfortable then I won't go anywhere. Gotta make yourself uncomfortable but like you said stand-up is an outlet to be very real in a more comfortable way for the audience. I can be blunt but if no one is listening to you then you’re not getting anywhere and we need people listening to our voices.
Tyla Gibson is a student and performer at DCH. She performs with the all-women improv group Sapphire to keep herself sane from being yell at by soccer moms all day.