Friday and Saturday night in Times Square, inside Carolines on Broadway, there was an audience with people from France, Canada, the United States, the Middle East and India in attendance and we all laughed our differences away…
I spoke to Sugar Sammy after his show about diversity and how he connects with audiences in spite of their different backgrounds.
Sugar Sammy spoke about bringing his unique point of view to his shows and in turn to the comedy landscape. With his Indian heritage, but having grown up in Canada, he is able to offer a fresh perspective. For instance, Sammy states, even though Canada and the States are neighbors, there are so many differences. He pointed this out during his shows in New York in a comical fashion.
We talked about the importance of diversity in spheres beyond comedy. He shared, the “left will say we just want diversity, but what they mean is diversity on the left, where I’d rather see that across the board.” He talked about diversity being a common buzzword used today and how he would like to move beyond certain taboos of talking about difficult topics. Sugar states that he is welcoming of all perspectives and it doesn’t matter where they come from as long as there’s some funny to it like “to hear from a Trump supporter, to have that point of view on stage, because you don’t see it on TV.” If you are able to navigate those waters, that in itself is interesting.
Sammy speaks at least four languages. One may think this makes it difficult to connect to audiences culturally. However, when I asked him the process of using his linguistic range, he said that it is the cultural adaptation that’s more important in creating that connection than a linguistic one. As Sugar Sammy grew up in a country, city and neighborhood that housed people from all walks of life, he was exposed to an array of new cultures at a young age. He added, it was “natural to me, serving my comedy well.”
Although he is from Quebec, where the language widely spoken is French, his jokes did not work in France when he toured there. “Those two shows are completely different even though it’s the same language, culturally they are so different that I have to adapt culturally to those where I have to actually write specific shows for them … that is where it becomes interesting, really doing that homework.”
I ended our conversation with a final question asking Sugar Sammy, where his first gig was? What it was like, and if it was memorable for him? He answered saying:
“My first one was actually in school at CEGEP in Quebec, we have this prep program between high school and university that’s where I did my first show for the Black Student Association. It was great, they named me the class clown, after that first show. It was a fun way to spend time at school. I was super nervous but you know, it was something that was talked about for weeks at the school.”
Check out his website for more information on his American tour. His next show is in Atlanta, February 28th!