There have been many Twin Cities comedians featured on television. But this week, Twin Cities comedy as a whole is about to take center stage.
Last summer, comedy mega-star Kevin Hart came to town to film season two of his show, Hart of the City, at Baddies Comedy Co. in St. Paul. This Friday, the episode will air on Comedy Central, and will feature local comics Ali Sultan, Earl Elliot, Greg Coleman, and Bruce Leroy Williams. The program will also be taking a look at what makes our comedy scene so special.
“The whole experience felt surreal,” says Sultan. “It was the biggest production I’ve ever witnessed.”
While performing onstage is nothing new for any of these comics, the show also features a sit-down interview with Hart. That part, Sultan admits, was nerve-wracking.
“A producer came up to us and said that Kevin was arriving in five minutes,” he recalls. “Then they said that they almost had to pull someone out of another taping because they were so starstruck that they couldn’t speak. I was terrified, until Kevin came. He was so down to earth and cracking jokes before the cameras rolled that it made me feel at ease.”
“Both on and off camera Kevin makes those around him comfortable and at ease, without being a dick about his celebrity power," Elliot adds. "His positivity is not an act.”
As for how the four comics were selected, as well as the choice to feature the Twin Cities, that was the work of Hart himself.
“When I met with the homies at Comedy Central they informed me that Mr. Hart handpicked the comedians on the show for each episode,” Elliot says. “Also, he emphasized the point that the show was made to give back to the comedy community because he is in the position to do so.”
All four of the comics have seen their careers skyrocket locally over the past several years, headlining and featuring in every club and comedy room across the state. As for the club itself, Baddies was opened this past February by Williams, along with fellow comics Pierre Douglas and Brandon Riddley, with the goal of growing and expanding black and urban comedy locally. To be selected as the host club for Hart’s show only months after opening speaks volumes to the work of the owners and comics.
“The show sheds a light on comedians and comedy scenes that don’t have a spotlight,” Sultan says. “You get to see great talents that wouldn’t get a shot on traditional shows.”
Now preparing to watch themselves on the small screen, Elliot is able to appreciate the experience as a whole.
“When you are pounding the pavement, you don’t take time to reflect,” he says. “This experience made me step back and say, ‘Whoa, you aren't the loner that you thought you were. People are rooting for you, and the world isn't against you.’ At least, not all of the world.”
Regardless of the finished product that airs this week, Sultan and Elliot agree that the experience was overwhelmingly positive. And the celebrity treatment wasn’t so bad, either.
“The most surprising part was the level of deliciousness of the food they served us,” jokes Sultan. “I snuck some steak to go.”
Hart of the City airs this Friday, December 8, at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.
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