Shortly after doing my first comedy set at UW RETROs open mic I was fortunate enough to see a show that changed my conceptions of stand up comedy as a genre: Susan at On the Boards. The show was headed by stand-up comedian, trumpet-player, and composer Ahamefule (pronounced aha-may-foo-lay) J. Oluo (o-lu-o). He named the show after his mother. This show was deeply heartfelt and personal. In it Oluo recounts the complex relationship he had with his parents, how his mother dealt with the absence of his father, and how it shaped him as an adult. It was a great mix of music, storytelling, and stand up comedy. His goal with this show was to find a common understanding with the audience, because we all go through hardship in life. In an interview, Oluo said, “you make it more about [the audience] by making it more about you … because at the end of the day people are the same.”
The music was a vibrant composition of instrumental jazz and vocal performances. On stage alongside Oluo were Jerome Smith on the trombone and sousaphone, Jason Cressey also on the trombone, Skerik on the saxophone, Marina Christopher on the bass, D’Vonne Lewis on the drums, Marina Albero on the keyboard, and two vocalists: Okanamode, and Tiffany Wilson. While Oluo would take most of the stage time with his captivating storytelling, as he changed topics the music helped set the mood as the show went on. Susan at On the Boards. Photo by Haley Freedlund.