Monday, 22 October 2018

Why you should keep an eye on rising comedian/writer Dewayne Perkins

Why you should keep an eye on rising comedian/writer Dewayne Perkins
09 Aug

When Dewayne Perkins joined the writing staff of the weekly Netflix show “The Break with Michelle Wolf” back in March, one of his first assignments was to help write material for Wolf’s appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

It’s a mostly behind-the-scenes job for now, but Perkins is a performer to keep an eye on. He’s already appeared on-camera dressed to the nines as Beyonce. He’s also the brainchild behind the recent Comedy Central video “The Blackening” spoofing horror movie tropes. And he’s developing a half-hour comedy with Red Arrow Studios after he and fellow Second City alum Aasia LaShay Bullock won best short-form video at the New York TV Festival last year.

The Chicago native will be back in town Friday performing at iO Theater with his improv team 3Peat, which includes some of the sharpest black comedy performers in town. (Like Perkins, a few members are currently working out of New York, including “Saturday Night Live” cast member Chris Redd and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” writer John Thibodeaux.)

We caught up ahead of Perkins’ return to Chicago. The following is an edited transcript.

The coach of the improv team at my high school convinced me to audition for DePaul University’s conservatory — I had never taken an acting class — so when I got in I was like, that’s a sign. I should do this.

And my freshman year at DePaul, my dorm had a free trip to Second City, which is just one train stop away. And I was like, “I’ve lived here my entire life, what is this place?” The show I saw was with Edgar Blackmon (currently co-starring on Freeform’s “Alone Together”) and Sam Richardson (who’s known for “Veep” and “Detroiters”) and I was like, “Ooooh, this is fun. I can do this.”

Second City brought some of the best people in my life. There’s a small club of black people and whenever a new black person comes in, they reach out to the last black person who was there. It’s this feeling that we’re in this together.

Q: I have to ask about your bit as Beyonce on “The Break.” How did that come about?

A: When Beyonce and Jay-Z dropped their new album, Michelle came in and she was like, “I just think it’s so funny how at their concerts he just stands there and raps and Beyonce’s doing all these crazy moves. She does all the dancing.” I have never played Beyonce before this, but because I’ve danced for so long, people knew I could do that part.

So Michelle’s idea was for a bit that showed that dynamic, where she would be Jay-Z just basically standing there and I would be Beyonce doing all the choreography.

Q: The reason it’s so funny is because it’s not jokey — you totally commit and you pull it off. The look, the body language, the strut, all of it. Which is very different from what a show like “SNL” would do, which is typically very outsized and exaggerated and almost cartoonish.

A: I took it so serious and that’s why it was so funny! I can dance in heels, these are just skills that I have! And I was like, “I am Beyonce in this moment.”

You can be a serious comedian. But I think most of my comedic point of view comes from cartoons. Like, I love a shenanigan.

3Peat performs at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday at iO Theater’s Bentwood Comedy Festival (featuring a lineup of notable iO aumi)

Twitter @Nina_Metz

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