With the world around us feeling a bit hectic, it’s nice to take some time to pause, laugh and find the lighter side of things. On Monday, May 11, Philadelphians will have the chance to do just that with a collaboration event with 1812 Productions and author R. Eric Thomas titled Comedy Conversation.
This one-night-only event will take place virtually over Zoom and will feature live reading excerpt’s from Thomas’ first memoir ‘Here for It, Or How to Save Your Soul in America’ and then will be followed by a Q&A session with Thomas and Philadelphia storyteller Hillary Rea. Thomas has quite a lot to talk about as well being an award-winning playwright, storyteller, author and the creator of ‘Eric Reads the News,’ a daily humor column for ELLE Magazine. ‘Here For It,’ which was released in February, has received much praise even being called “pop-culture-obsessed, David Sedaris-level laugh-out-loud funny” by Lin Manuel Miranda.
“‘Here For It’ is a collection of humorous essays all about identity, mostly on the intersections of identity, the people that we are and [how] the ways we identify can either come in conflict with each other or can create something new,” says Thomas. “One of the reasons why I wrote it, I really think there’s a lot of power in telling our stories whatever way we want to tell our stories. I personally connect with stories told with humor and with heart because even if we’re talking about something that’s difficult—times in life where we feel like we didn’t belong or when we didn’t know which direction to go in—being able to view those things with both humor and compassion for our past selves is a really powerful thing.”
In current times, that sentiment certainly rings true, which is why Thomas and 1812 Productions decided to launch Comedy Conversation. The event on Monday was also inspired by the inventive theater’s smash hit annual sketch comedy, satire and musical parody, ‘This Is The Week That Is’ and will feature everything you love about finding humor in a complicated and sometimes quite dark world. Comedy Conversation’s moderator, Hillary Rea, also has experience in the creative escape sphere owning the local Tell Me A Story, an organization whose mission is to assist entrepreneurs, business leaders and artists in finding their own narratives.
“I’ll be reading and telling some stories from my book and then [Hillary] and I are going to talk about telling funny stories about your life and making comedy sometimes out of a bad situation, which I think people particularly right now are going to be very interested in,” says Thomas. “People need a break. We have so much information coming into our houses and we’re all stuck in our houses and [are] feeding that information. It’s really important, I think, for us to connect with the creative parts of ourselves and the hopeful parts of ourselves to have time where we are not focused on headlines and can sit back and relax.”
According to the release, Comedy Conversation will take place on Monday, May 11, at 8 p.m. The event will be streamed live on Crowdcast at the following link through crowdcast.io. Comedy Conversation is a Pay What You Choose event. Any questions about the live stream can be directed to 1812 Productions’ box office at 1812productions.org or at 215-592-9560.
“I think the ambitions of the program, even if you’re sitting at your dining room table or in your bed, wherever you watch your Zooms, you can get some version of the feeling of being with other people in a theater or even at an intimate dinner where people are sharing stories and laughing and connecting with each other,” says Thomas. “I think it’s really important that we remember how much we enjoy being in each other’s presence.”