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Black Thought: I don't want to be the next 'Def Comedy Jam'

The Roots co-founder debuts a new comedy series in Philly.

Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter of legendary hip hop band The Roots launches a comedProvided

Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots is launching a new performance series in Philly this week, and the focus isn’t music. The legendary emcee has teamed up with Quincy Harris of Fox 29’s “The Q Show” for “Delirious,” a comedy showcase highlighting buzzworthy touring comedians as well as Philly talent on the rise.

Thursday night’s show at Punchline Philly will include standup from Seth Herzog, Janelle James, Seaton Smith, Jamar Neighbors and Michelle Wolf. There will even be music from DJ J.Period and Black Thought himself.

We chatted with the legendary emcee about what inspired him to step into the comedy space and why “the darkest hours produce the best art.”

What are your hopes for “Delirious?”
I feel like this show has a lot of potential to evolve into something special. I don’t want to be the next “Def Comedy Jam” — I don’t want to be the next anything. The fact that I’m doing this is about firsts. I want to present something original. I want people to come out and enjoy themselves because these are trying times. Historically, the darkest hours have always produced the best art.

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You’re known for being a musician. What sparked your interest in comedy?
Having worked on “Late Night” and “The Tonight Show” for the past eight years, I do comedy every day so I’m always around lots of comedians. We’re a few floors down from “SNL” so I get to interact with them. I’ve been doing a recurring bit with Seth Herzog of “The Tonight Show” at a place in New York City called The Slipper Room for the past year or so. I sat in on a couple of Jeff Ross’ comedy “Roast” battles and yeah, it’s something I decided I wanted to do.

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Do you see parallels between music and comedy?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. There’s countless parallels between comedy and music, as there are with any of the arts. The arts is the arts, and you know what changes is the medium. Sometimes the medium evolves over time. In my case, I started off as a visual artist then went into creative writing then went into music and then into acting and now I’m dabbling in the world of comedy. The tools may change, but the artist remains the artist.

How did you and Quincy connect for this project?
We’re long time friends. Quincy is a not only a Philadelphia radio legend, but also a national radio legend. He’s always championed the Roots and championed my personal brand and vice versa. We [The Roots] were the first guests on “The Q Show” on the first day.

Love to see Philly supporting Philly. So what makes great comedy in your mind?
What makes great comedy is the delicate balance of being able to make a social commentary, being able to laugh at oneself, using real life and relatable situations, while also transcending race, gender and age. The ability to give your audience a look into what is it that you do, and to have them walk away having gained a different perspective on life.

If you go:
“Delirious”
Thursday, Feb. 23
10:15 p.m., $15
Punchline Philly
33 E. Laurel St.
punchlinephilly.com

 
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