Neil Bansil wasn't sure what to expect from the crowd when he brought the Most RACES Show On Earth! to the Comedy Fest in 2012.
"I didn't know who was going to show up," says Bansil, a Canadian native with Filipino parents who moved to the American South after marrying a woman from Irmo. Like the other comedians featured in the show, Bansil's ethnic background is highlighted on the MRSOE! website, and he hopes to tell jokes that transcend cultural barriers.
As it turned out, Bansil's show sold out for two evenings — and there were a lot of white people. Still, Bansil says, "The diversity in that show was different than the diversity in other shows at the Comedy Festival." And most importantly, people got the jokes. That's kind of the point. "What people realize is we all kind of grew up the same way, just different accents," says Bansil, who now makes his home in Charleston.
This year's show will feature Atlanta's "Prime Minister of Atlantsterdam" Clayton English, who has had roles on Tyler Perry's House of Payne and BET's Hell Date, along with Atlanta comic Rob Haze and Charleston's own Evan Berke, a Jewish American and former City Paper intern (Go get 'em, Evan). From what we've heard of Evan's material, he's not afraid to talk about Jewish life in the South ... or weed. Rounding out the roster is Gina Brillon, a Puerto Rican-Italian from New York who recently took top honors in NBC's nationwide Stand-Up for Diversity contest.
Don't expect a lot of sermonizing, and don't expect political correctness. As Bansil explains it, sometimes you've got to play with stereotypes before you can tear them down.
"Before I moved to the South, all I ever saw was, like, Mississippi Burning," Bansil says. "And my parents were really, truly scared for me, and I was on guard myself, just waiting for something racist to happen. But they were the nicest people that I've ever met, the Southerners. Maybe they just don't say it in front of your face. I don't know."
Thurs. Jan. 17, 9:30 p.m. $12.50 @ American Theater