Comedian Jonathan Slocumb and Local Jazz Artist Willis Hickerson, Jr.
An Evening of Jazz and Jokes
Sep 13, 2013 at 7:30 PM
Ticket sales ended Sep 13, 2013 7:30 PM. Additional tickets may be available at the box office.
An Evening of Jazz and Jokes
In the world of standup comedy, there has only been a select few funny men who could captivate an audience with limitless laughter yet still remain within the boundaries of decency,tastefulness and tact. It almost seems to be a by-gone era for comics like Bill Cosby, Flip Wilson and Sinbad who kept crowds engaged in their dialogue and free of any foul language. But the ferociously funny, multi-talented nonconformist Jonathan Slocumb has been bringing fun back to the family for more than a decade now.
In just a few short years, he went from tearing up clubs across the map to hosting award shows for prestigious organizations like NAACP and Urban League and writing for BET. For seven years in a row, he has been the main stage host for the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. And he does it all without using any profanity.
“I’m very balanced and very diverse. For years, I was placed in a box and everything was related to gospel and religion,” says Slocumb. “But I’m able to perform for the mainstream audience AND the religious. However, the main thing is that I’m always clean.”
A devout Christian, Slocumb adopted this strict moral code as early as he could remember as a young child growing up in Atlanta’s Eagan Homes projects. Raised in a stable,two-parent household, he was always taught right from wrong. And by age 10, his father purchased a brand new home in the then upwardly mobile, working class Bankhead section. Unbeknownst to the family, though, their community was steadily deteriorating.
After graduating from Atlanta’s Frederick Douglass High School, he miraculously enrolled in Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala, majored in broadcasting and worked part time as a radio personality on the campus radio station WOCG.
“At every level of education- elementary, high school and college- I excelled academically. I was always student government president and I was always most humorous,” he says. “I was never a class clown. I was just a leader and funny. People used to say ‘he’s either going to be in politics or entertainment.’”
Those people were right! After college, he returned home to Atlanta and with his radio experience,he landed a gig as a radio personality at country western country station WBIE. And from there, he worked on-air for almost every format on the radio dial you can think of- big band, nostalgia, jazz and rock station. You name it and Slocumb did it.
When he decided to leave radio behind and pursue other avenues, he dabbled into sales as an AT&T representative. But because of his popularity as a choir director, he would be called to host gospel concerts on the weekends. He kept the shows clean and always had audiences bouncing in the pews with laughter. As one promoter told another who told another about Slocumb’s performances, his name grew amongst the gospel circuit in no time at all.
“I had become known as this guy who would emcee gospel concerts and who was funny,” says Slocumb.
While his one-time side job on stage was quickly gaining steam, it wasn’t until one faithful night after a show in Chicago with gospel/ jazz group Take 6 that Jonathan realized his true calling.
“I looked at a check from being funny on tour with Take 6 and looked at a check I made at AT&T with people cussing me out because I’m asking for their phone bill money,” he recalls. “I compared the two checks and wrote a letter to AT&T. I have not looked back at corporate America since.”
In the meantime, Jonathan hasn’t missed a step in his career. He has been trotting the globe spreading his clean, gut-busting humor in sold-out concerts as well as hosting prestigious events such as the NAACPImage Awards, Black Lawyers Association, The Stellar Awards, national alumni events for traditionally black colleges and fortune 500 corporations.
There was one year in particular while hosting the NAACP Image Awards audience that he earned one of his biggest fans. “Michael Jordan was being honored. And I did a bit about him,” Slocumb thinks back. “He laughed so hard that he had to get out of his seat. Everybody was laughing. To see Michael Jordan laugh at himself is hysterical.”
Two days later, Michael Jordan called to invite Slocumb to Las Vegas to host the premiere of his Nike clothing line: The Jordan Brand.
Another milestone for Slocumb was appearing on the second season of Def Comedy Jam. One of the raunchiest yet popularstages on earth, Jonathan kept it clean and left with a standing ovation. His squeaky clean act also landed him a five-album recording contract with Warner Bros. Records in 1997 and released his comedy relief album Laugh Yourself to Life that same year. Unfortunately, though, the division to which Slocumb was signed folded soon after and he was released from the contract.
Shortly after, however, he secured a role on The Steve Harvey Show. And for the next five years, he played “Clyde,” a member of Steve’s funk group the HighTops. Other bullets on his resume include performances on Jamie Foxx Presents Laffapalooza for Comedy Central and played the part of the pastor on Tyler Perry’s full-length movie Meet the Browns.
He is credited with creating, hosting, and producing The Gospel Music Channel’s original comedy series Ha! Standing Up For Clean Comedy.
Not only is he smart, handsome, well dressed and clever but Jonathan Slocumb brings a level of class like no one else. And he does it all through his faith in God. “I just want to bring good quality entertainment to people,” he says, “because they need it now more than ever before.”
He just completed a national tour with the stageplay "Cheaper To Keep Her" starring Brian McKnight and Vivica Fox.
Also Slocumb and long time friend/biz partner Alvin Williams, have launched THE CUSS FREE COMEDY SERIES of which "Jonathan Slocumb live in Chicago" is it's first release!
In the 2011 April issue of EBONY magazine, Slocumb was featured in a two page article in their FIRST EVER "Comedy Issue".
After being special guest on the the highly successful 2012 summer tour with the legendary Aretha Franklin, he now hosts Groundbreaking Comedies on Magic Johnson's new network ASPiRE!