The Politics of the Funny Business
Comedy, not unlike any other field in the entertainment world, is fully loaded with politics. That is, there’s what you may call the who’s who of the business. So, for up and coming Chicago comedian Darrick Jones, navigating his way through the industry has been nothing short of an uphill battle. Nonetheless, Darrick Jones believes nothing is impossible. CFurthermore, he feels it’s very important to be who you are and do what you believe. Armed with organic material and jokes for every life circumstance, Darrick Jones, who goes by the name Darrick J, garnered his inspiration from the world around him.
From Chicago Roots to Comedy Stage
Darrick Jones grew up in the community on the Southeast side of Chicago called South Chicago. Before realizing his passion for comedy he worked for the city’s public transit system, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for 17 years. After years of telling jokes to co-workers, Jones realized he was in the wrong profession.
“I quit and started doing comedy,” Jones said. “I know it sounds crazy, I mean you paid all these dues but I viewed it as you know, being a happy slave…but I did not like my job.”
Although Jones spent many years working for the city, he feels his calling to do comedy was in him the entire time.
Accepting the Call of the Comedy Stage
“I’ve been a comedian my whole life really,” Darrick said. “I just had to make it happen and put it all out there on stage.”
According to Jones, his workplace was the platform where his career began. Using his coworkers as the audience, Jones tested out his material daily, receiving a plethora of laughs and giggles from colleagues.
“Every morning I would go in and people would look for me to come in and I would make everybody laugh; we would be laughing all morning,” Jones said. “Every morning they would say, ‘man you missed your calling.’”
Jones made his first attempt at a career in comedy around 2011. Every Wednesday, he would make a trip to Jokes and Notes, a popular Chicago comedy club and try to get stage time on open mic night.
Facing the Politics of the Comedy Game
“I didn’t know about the politics of the comedy game,” he said. “I would get there early and sign the list but I would never get to go up.”
According to Jones, this is a common practice in the industry. Therefore, it was very difficult for him to make a name for himself in comedy.
“They would always skip over my name,” said Jones. “Other people would come in, been in the game for a while and wouldn’t have to sign their names.”
For Jones, the practice of leaving work and rushing to Jokes & Notes made it difficult for him to stay inspired.
“I put a lot of effort into this,” he said.
Giving Up for a Comeback
Eventually Jones gave up on comedy until he realized it was time to take matters involving his career into his own hands. He created a platform for new comedians to have a place where they can do what they love without the involvement of politics.
Jones said, “I stopped going for like two years, but eventually, I said to myself ‘this is what I want to do.’ I started putting on my own shows, I got the venue and I got a group of only new comedians.”
Thus was the origin of the Dirty Naughty Comedy Showcase. In addition to doing shows at his new showcase, Jones began to do private events.
“I’m following my own self and it’s been a great adventure,” he said. “Every day has been a great adventure.”
Jones’s often finds comedic inspiration from the anxiety that many people feel when it comes to diversity and people of different backgrounds. He feels many people are afraid of the nuances in different races.
According to Jones, he grew up in a diverse community. His neighborhood was mostly Latin with only a few African American families. As a child, he feared his neighbors due to the difference in dialect.
Comedy Fed by Diversity
Jones laughs heavily as he goes into detail about a funny moment in his childhood when he realized that the difference between two cultures was not a negative thing.
“I had a cultural fear against Mexicans when I was growing up because I didn’t understand what they were saying, and it was a lot of them. Me being in the park, it was a group of them that approached me speaking Spanish, and I don’t speak Spanish. I was scared, so I started running and they started chasing me. They catch me and hold me down.”
Cracking up by now, Derrick continues the story. “This chic comes over and lays on top of me. And that’s not the weird part. The weird part is she was pregnant, about eight months pregnant. I was a little fat kid…all out breath,[so] I said, ‘get this girl off of me.’ One of the guys said to me, ‘Homie, when we play, we all play together,’ and then the baby started kicking me and next thing I know they said ‘tag you’re it.’ I try to correlate all of that. I shouldn’t be afraid of Mexicans; they just play different, that’s all it was but in my mind I just knew it was gonna be a problem.”
The point of Darrick Jones’s story was to stress the importance of different interactions with different races and he uses these type of experiences in his comedy to provoke people to think.
Training on Chicago South Side Stages
Darrick Jones has performed in many different places but feels performing on the south side of Chicago was a learning experience that can make any comedian develop tougher skin.
“You need the south side, it’s like a training ground, it gets you prepared,” he said. “You need that reality hit from the south side because you need to bring it; we don’t got time for this half stepping stuff.”
Darrick Jones admits that it can be tough. He admits that it is devastating when he’s face-to-face with the audience telling your jokes and the material just doesn’t register.
“While you’re up there, you cry on the inside and then you think about it,” laughed Jones. “I was hurt, I was in front of all these people and it was my job to take them out of their stresses and I wasn’t doing that, but once you get past the worst point then you’re not scared of that anymore.”
Belief and Persistence are Key
Regardless of one’s fears or anxiety, Darrick Jones believes that through persistence, all things are possible. He encourages anyone who aspires to be extraordinary in life to keep moving forward and great things will follow.
“Believe in yourself first. Believe in your God, your universe and everything will be fine,” he said. “It’s not death, you’re not gonna die. But, you’re gonna learn a lot, meet a lot of new people and have a lot of new experiences in your life.
Darrick Jones is the creator of “The Naughty Comedy Showcase”. Today can be found presenting shows all across the country.
Check out Darrick J on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/acidhot and look out for his upcoming show this summer.