Swag Snap of the Week: Stephon Hightower and Joe Torry

STL comic Stephon Hightower posed with comedy veteran and fellow St. Louisan Joe Torry Sunday night at the St. Louis Funny Bone. Torry came home for a hilarious weekend engagement that featured Hightower and Duke Taylor as opening acts.

If you want to say that she should have at least been on stage by 9:30 p.m., by all means have at it. But claiming Ms. Lauryn Hill was four hours late because the doors opened at 6 p.m. is doing the absolute most. I know some of y’all still feel left out because you can’t share in the 2011 horror story – and are so pressed to have your own “Lauryn Hill come lately” Negro spiritual that you had to reach for it. But come on now ... let it be well with your soul and stop trying to make Friday night’s “Miseducation” Anniversary performance anything other than what it was – which was a really good show. No, Nas was not there. But y’all already knew he wasn’t coming. Yes, she showed up at 10:15. Yes, they turned the lights on her because went past curfew. If I had a quarter for every show that I’ve been to where the headliner started after 10 and the lights got turned on, you wouldn’t be reading this – because I would be retired on somebody’s beach living my best life. And I’m not going back-and-forth with y’all about it either. Now that I have all of that out of my system, I can go ahead and get started talking about it. It was great. Shabazz Places had folks feeling like they were on a bad trip with that psychedelic rap act but DJ Reborn turned it out. I wasn’t expecting to see a dance battle at the Lauryn Hill show. I most certainly wasn’t expecting to see them break out like wild fires. And that Pantoranking had me so turnt I was trying to remember the “Coming To America” wedding choreography. And Lauryn did the doggone thing on stage. Her outfit was part Helen Willis from “The Jeffersons” and Wilona Woods (with her as per usual Florida Evans hair game realness) from “Good Times” with a bit of Rose from “227.” The concert was not quite Loufest, but it trumped her other two recent visits to the Lou. I know y’all wanted it to be a mess so badly, but it simply wasn’t. My only notes were that I wish she could have worked things out to her satisfaction during sound check, so we wouldn’t have to suffer through the constant back turns and hand gestures interrupting the flow of the show – and that she hadn’t left “Nothing Even Matters” from the set list. Other than that, it was a solid seven that had me leaning towards an eight.  

STL’s second dose of Jenifer Lewis. For the second time in three months, I got every bit of my life from the one and only Jenifer Lewis. The Kinloch native and “The Mother of Black Hollywood” author stepped away from Hollywood for a hot second as the kick off speaker for Harris-Stowe’s Beyond The Books Presidential Lecture Series. Not another single soul could have got up in the Emerson Performance Center if they tried Tuesday night. I wish they would have moved it over into the Dr. Henry Givens Main Auditorium so that more folks could have had a chance to be blessed by the queen of keeping it real. I’m just sayin’… She did what she did best – which is encourage the folks by putting every bit of her business in the street for the sake of allowing her truth to help other folks learn how to make better choices. I am so thrilled that she also is working overtime to destroy the stigma surrounding mental illness by sharing her own journey. Y’all know it broke the record for most cuss words in the history of a presidential lecture, but she still was dropping that knowledge and changing lives. Was I the only one that thought she was going to have that baby and the mama tossed out when the poor thing cut up during one of her most profound moments? I can’t say I would have been mad.  

Tickled by Joe Torry. I know that there used to be a bit of beef between comedian Joe Torry and the St. Louis American. And apparently AT LEAST 15 years later is too soon to ask him to take a picture for the paper. According to my most trusted source, somebody for the paper asked him to take a picture and he looked at said photographer like they asked for a sip of his gin and cranberry juice. He obliged, but reportedly didn’t seem the least bit pleased. Hopefully when he sees the picture, he’ll feel better about saying yes. He was in town for a weekend engagement at The Funny Bone and had me hollering  at hello. Especially when he got to talking about how much of a disciplinarian his daddy was on him and his siblings. The thought of his brother acting up in school, going to bed at night and waking up with a fake bomb strapped to his chest, thanks to their career military man father, will have me hollering until I hit the nursing home. I stopped through Sunday night and the whole evening was funny, thanks to openers Stephon Hightower and Duke Taylor. I hadn’t seen Joe Torry in that type of intimate setting in more than a minute. I stopped through on the strength of seeing his brother Guy tear it up some months back at the same spot, and I’m so glad I did.

Crickets for King Keraun. I know King Keraun and his comedy crew were a bit discouraged by the disappointing crowd sizes when they stopped through St. Louis Friday and Saturday night. They were good sports about it though. In all fairness, folks probably figured they would do what they usually do when they want to see him – go to the internet. I’ll give it to Keraun, he fared better than some of the other internet-famous folks who have decided they want to try their hand at comedy in front of a live audience. I was wondering why he wasn’t the last performer on lineup that featured him, Jay Lee Thomas and a comedian I had never heard of that goes by D’Lai. But when D’Lai kicked his set off, I understood. When I tell you I can’t remember the last time I cackled like from a name I had never heard of – trust me. When he called the crowd “the little audience that could” because of how they kept interacting with him and low-key heckling with the audacity of a sold-out show, I all but fell out. He was the funniest unfamiliar comic I’ve seen in a minute. Last weekend’s crowd was a bit light, but I’m willing to bet Jessie Taylor’s birthday weekend will be busting at the seams with folks, thanks to his own hilariousness and special guest T.K. Kirkland.

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