Moontower 2019 Review: Amanda Seales

Her wide-ranging set proved this comic can't be pigeonholed

Amanda Seales at Moontower Comedy Festival 2019 (Photo by Bells and Whistles Productions)

Comedian/actor/producer and 2019 Moontower Comedy Festival headliner Amanda Seales (Insecure) dispelled several stereotypes at the Paramount Theatre Saturday night: Patriarchy isn’t relegated to certain races, PC culture isn’t killing comedy, and not all black men are … similarly sized.

“I don’t ever want to be pigeonholed,” Seales said, toward the end of a killer show that covered everything from life as a black woman in white spaces to her love of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones to some classic dick jokes.

After a fun opening act from fellow L.A.-based comedian Eliza Skinner, Seales started her 7pm show with a discussion on creating Smart, Funny, & Black, a game show that “brings your favorite funny folks to the ‘Hall of Flava’ to compete in a head-to-head battle of wits that tests their knowledge of black history, black culture, and the black experience.” The show performs regularly at the Roxy in West Hollywood and is currently touring. (No Austin stops, but there are tour dates in Houston and Dallas in July.) Seales originally pitched the show to television execs and received, to put it mildly, pushback. They wanted white guests, too. She emphasized that “the show is called Smart, Funny, and Black.” This prompted execs to ask questions like, “Then how can white people watch this and feel good about themselves?” Her response: “I’m really trying to make it so black people watch it and feel good about themselves.” She did not receive from execs the same overwhelming support she received from the Moontower audience, and the anecdote served as a springboard to discuss the burden African Americans face living in “white bubbles.” She demonstrated her point through an impromptu sing-along. Given one line of songs like "This is How We Do It," most of the largely African-American audience was able to sing the song until asked to stop. “You don’t know it because it’s not your shit,” she said to the white people in the front row who couldn’t. “And that’s okay.” But given one line from songs like, "Don’t Stop Believing," the entire audience, including the white audience members, were able to sing until asked to stop. “See, we know that shit, too,” she joked. “Because we’re trying to get promoted!” The joke killed, as did the entire lively and positive show that tackled serious and silly topics alike with the same warm sense of humor.

As the show neared the end, Seales offered some tangible advice for ways to deal with some of the more ridiculous issues we’re facing, like the building of a Berlin-style wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. If it succeeds, it will be on us Texans, she said – pointing out that most of it would be in our state. “Texas, you are right here,” she said. “Shut that shit down!” She then joked about ways to get white people involved by advertising the effort as a spring break event. “It’s like Coachella, but for the people,” she joked, mimicking a spot-on white woman voice. Hey, whatever it takes, right?

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Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival, Moontower Comedy Festival 2019, Amanda Seales, Eliza Skinner

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