Tuesday, March 7, 7pm
DuSable Museum of African American History
740 E. 56th Place
Free, but please RSVP here
Post-screening discussion with director Debra Robinson and comedian Kellye Howard!
Debra J. Robinson’s 1984 documentary I Be Done Been Was Is profiles four hard-working and hilarious black women comedians—Alice Arthur, Rhonda Hansome, Jane Galvin-Lewis, and Marsha Warfield—following them on the road and backstage as they ply their craft in an industry that is dominated by men, particularly white men. The title comes from Jane Galvin-Lewis’s routine about an overachieving professor; Robinson said, “It kind of sums up black women comedians, but black women period, in everything we do. I’m past, present, and future… you may not know that, but that’s who I am.” Commenting on what the four women draw on for material, Robinson said, “The pain and absurdity of everyday life is the stuff that comedians are made of, and when you are a minority of any sort—much less a member of two minorities—then you have more than enough to play off of. You go right off the scale.” The film is interspersed with segments about their predecessors including Moms Mabley and Ethel Waters, demonstrating how far these women have come and how far the entertainment world still needs to go. (Debra J. Robinson, 1984, USA, 58 min., DVD)
Stick around after the film for a conversation with writer and comedian Kellye Howard about how much (or little) has changed for black women comedians since the film was made. Howard has been featured on Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, FOX Laughs, the OWN Network, ABC, Last Comic Standing, national commercials, and a guest-starring role on Chicago Justice. She tours all over the world, having done military and college tours, thanks to NACA showcases. A graduate of Second City Chicago’s yearlong Improv Conservatory program, Kellye is now part of the House Co. team Twisty at Second City. She is also the co-host alongside Brandi Denise at their monthly comedy showcase Two Queens 1 Mic hosted at The Revival in Hyde Park.
The Dr. Margaret Burroughs Centennial Film Series is a partnership between South Side Projections and the DuSable Museum of African American History. It celebrates the legacy of the founder of the DuSable Museum by highlighting films about and by women of the African Diaspora. The screenings take place at the DuSable Museum on January 3, March 7, July 11, September 5, and November 7.