News Column

Ed Blaze started comedy before he knew about comedy [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)]

November 13, 2013

YellowBrix

The Pittsburgh Improv offers a diverse group of three comedians for a special show on Nov. 14.

Ed Blaze hails from Tanzania, where he grew up in a village without running water and Comedy Central. Now, he's progressed through the comedy ranks and been compared to Russell Peters "from the African side."

Rachel Feinstein grew up on the "mean streets" of Bethesda, Md., where she polished dead-on characterizations of her unique relatives by opening for her father's blues band.

She has joked her way to a "Comedy Central presents" special. She also has been featured in the prestigious Montreal Comedy Festival.

Nema Williams, who hails from East Oakland, Calif., knows a little about racial diversity, being from one of the great melting pots of America.

"Nema is the white boy observing black life. They (audiences) love him," Blaze says. Commonly referred to as the "white guy who gets it," Williams has worked with Martin Lawrence, P Diddy and Cedric the Entertainer.

This show should provide something for everyone.

"Our audience is usually split 50/50 (white/black)," Blaze says. He answered a few more questions about himself and the tour.

Question: How did you get started in comedy? Was there a lot of comedy in Tanzania?

Answer: No, not really a lot of comedy in Tanzania. In school, some of us would crack people up. I didn't know about comedy until I came to America. I watched a lot of HBO and started writing. I remember the first time I got on stage, my friend pushed me up there. I was getting laughs but I didn't know why. It was 12, 13 years ago. Then I didn't do it again and kept writing. Then I saw someone do a joke like I wrote and that made me feel I could be funny.

Q: How do you mesh on the road?

A: Really good; we laugh. Sometimes, comedians can either be bitter from being on the road for too long or get a show and go Hollywood. ... That's not the way this tour is; we're friends.

Q: Do you miss Africa?

A: Yes, I miss Africa. I miss my village, my friends. It hits me when I hear people tell stories about when they were younger. ... Life was so simple, no running water, everyone lived close by, we got together all the time.

Q: Is the simple life of Africa better than the materialistic chaos of America?

A: I wouldn't say that. It's different. I like the simple life, but I still yearned to fly on a private jet and stay in a five-star hotel. Not better, just different.

Q: What's on your iPod?

A: You'd be surprised. Shelton, Blake Shelton, rap, some old- school, Ice Cube.

Comedian Matt Wohlfarth is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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