A commitment to supporting black art can lead you down some pretty dark paths. Take your coworker, who’s just rushed up to you, bright-eyed and beaming, and exclaimed: “I got the role!” Since she’s been telling you about “the role” for the past three months and how it’s the lead in an “experimental” play with an all-black cast and how the director has such progression vision, he could be the next August Wilson, you congratulate her and, yes, of course, you’ll take four tickets!
The next thing you know you’re in some storefront “theatre” where the play–which turns out to be an off-off-off-Tyler Perry Studios production–is being performed three feet in front of you–and the 15 of the thirty other guests the place can potentially hold.
She’s just getting started as an actress, so the next time she gets cast in a project, you go ahead and support her again. But it’s the same deal: tiny, cramped, hard-seated theatre, awful material, and truth be told, all-around horrible acting (hers included).
Remember that feeling. Embarrassment mixed with disappointment, followed by a vow never to fall for this okeydoke again. The next time your coworker decides to act, you’ll decide to be on vacation.
Maybe you don’t have an aspiring artist friend or coworker. But certainly you’ve sunk time or money into supporting a famous musician or actor whose work disappoints you time and again. So how many bad performances or awful songs does it take to renounce your encouragement or fandom?
Personally, I apply a three-strike rule. An actor or singer’s got three times to disappoint me before I dart off in the other direction every time I see a film or album of theirs coming. Maybe it takes you longer to abandon an actor you’ve decided is bad or a singer who’d be better with stronger production. But I can usually make the call to check out on an artist by project three, no matter how excited I was about him or her, initially.
Here are a few folks who’ve failed my three-strike test:
1. Aisha Tyler (as a stand-up comic)
I first got into Aisha Tyler during her hosting gig on E’s Talk Soup. Her quick, wry wit impressed me. I thought she was funny and figured she’d have a few televised stand-up specials before long. I was right. About four years back, I caught a televised set of hers on Comedy Central and didn’t laugh. I thought it might be a fluke; maybe I just wasn’t in a laughing mood. Then recently, I tried her 2009 special, Aisha Tyler is Lit: Live at the Fillmore, and that confirmed. Though Tyler is awesome in a ton of other ways (She’s gorgeous, of course, brilliant, nerdy, and I dig her acting roles and her co-hosting work on CBS’ The Talk), her stand-up comedy is just not for me.