Once again, this Chicago Comedy Examiner performed a lazy email interview. This time it’s with The Starting 5. “What’s that?”, you ask, askily. My answer: Read the interview, and stop asking questions so askily. That’s my job.
Who are The Starting 5?
Clark Jones: Lem Slaughter, Calvin Evans. Sean Monroe, Clark Jones, and Q. 5 up and coming comedians who hail from Chicago and Memphis with similar approaches to comedy.
How did you come up with the name? Is it a nod to the famous Chicago Bulls line-up?
Lem Slaughter: Honestly we had wanted to be “The Loose Squares”… An ode to the host of jokes (Jokes And Notes comedy club-DD) at the time, Marlon Mitchell .. But that panned out, and with us being Bulls fans… hence came the name.
Clark Jones: I came up with the name and approached the guys because we were 5 guys with 5 incredible years of comedy under our belts who embraced a team concept of linking together and promoting good comedy. However, if we were homaging the Bulls, we run like that great 1996 team!
Calvin Evans: The name Starting 5 in my eyes represented the guys you always see in the game from the tip. Before we came together as a team, I would always look up and see the same 4 guys constantly and consistently on comedy shows throughout the city. We’re kind of like the Super Friends/Avengers, in the sense we were doing our own thing but came together to be more of a comedic force.
Is it a group, a comic collective, what is it? What’s the goal? What’s your “mission statement”, as it were?
Clark Jones: It is a “super group” if you will, of comedians who believe that iron sharpens iron. As we work together and critique each other, it will make us better as individuals who do aspire for individual success. We, as a collective, want to energize comedy, specifically, Black comedy with universal jokes with the goal to be funny to everybody.
Sean Monroe: We’re a group of comics with 1 common goal…..to deliver good, classic comedy. However, we do our own things…..we’re like Voltron……or a gang.
Q: We are a group who all work to get each other more stage time to improve our craft, No I in team.
What can you tell me about the segregated comedy scenes in Chicago? What do you think needs to happen to bring the two together?
Sean Monroe: I can’t really speak on that. Too tough…..I rock all crowds !!!!
Calvin Evans: I don’t think the comedy scene is segregated. I work both sides’ clubs, rooms and shows. Simply put, the city is divided and naturally we work in environments that we believe are most relatable to us. I see too many comics get caught up in the idea of playing to crowds or catering to specific sides of towns when the bottom line is we are all the same and share common threads i.e.relationships, jobs, family, politics, kids, education, etc. I tell the same jokes regardless of what side of town Im on and what ethnicity the crowd is because they get every day shit. I love watching Louis C.K, Russell Peters, George Lopez because they are hilarious, not because they look like me or are from where I’m from. Comedy has no color, funny is funny. Once comics acknowledge that, these invisible barriers will be broken down and the possibilities of work will be endless for comics across the city.
Lem Slaughter: I think comedians have to come out of our comfort zone. Everyone’s here to laugh.. I find white crowds are easier than black crowds. White crowds, you need confidence. Black crowds, you need to light yourself on fire with confidence. We have a lot of things bubbling individually and collectively so hopefully we can help bridge the gap.
Clark Jones: Segregation, sadly, is a part of the DNA of Chicago…it’s up to the comedians to unite the scene if they have a sincere desire to do so. However, some comedians benefit from segregation wherein they benefit if its an all woman, or all Arab, or all green person show, it may heighten their chance of stage time, but The Starting 5 look to be stage ready for any show so long as the requirement is to make people laugh.
Q: I think the segregated scene in Chicago is no different then that of any major city ~ black and white have two different upbringings so it’s up to you to know your target market. You can’t make everybody happy.
How is everyone different/similar in their brand of comedy? How do the styles of the comedians in the group complement each other?
Calvin Evans: We are all the same in the sense that we are critical thinkers and great observationists. We complement each other because we don’t think alike and we all come from different places and backgrounds. We make each other laugh with our personalities. We’re charismatic and if you watch our show you can appreciate us individually and as a whole.
Clark Jones: Calvin is like a point guard, say a Magic Johnson who is very diverse and a leader in his approach to comedy. Q is like a center, say in the vein of Hakeem Olajuwon, soft spoken but his comedy is clutch and his punchlines hit really hard. Sean is that 2 guard in the vein of Allen Iverson in that he too is pioneering and kind of the bad boy of the group if you will, edgy but likeable. Lem is the power forward of the group like Karl Malone, very consistent and devoted to the craft of comedy, a comedians comedian who writes witty and performs night in and out. I am the small forward much like Scottie Pippen or Penny Hardaway in that I can host and adapt well to what the situation calls for at a show with a touch of flashiness.
Q: I’m laid back and smooth, but my delivery and timing are on point. Clark and Calvin are brilliant , and clever plus business minded. Sean and Lem speak the real, and are relatable, you feel at home when they speak. So we have something for everybody.
What’s on the horizon for The Starting 5?
Lem Slaughter: Just For Laughs festival. This year we’re all in it. Making the brand stronger. Look out for sketches, a weekly room… a lot more to come… The limit is the sky!!!
Calvin Evans: We will be doing the TBS Just For Laughs Festival, we will have our own show at Jokes & Notes Comedy Club. Getting this show was a testament to our hard work and growth over the past year. We are pretty amped about it and plan on making it a memorable show.
Sean Monroe: MOVIES, MUSIC,WRITING…..SEX SCANDALS……EVERYTHING !!!!
Clark Jones: Many great shows including the Just for Laughs Festival in June, individual shows and some TV recognition!
Q: Nothing but big things. Acting, screen writing, producing, tours and More Money I hope.
You can catch The Starting 5 at Jokes And Notes comedy club, 4641 South King Drive Chicago, IL on Sunday, April 29th. Follow them on twitter: @starting5comedy