If you saw Zamata’s first of five nights on Tuesday, and you also saw her at Dallas Comedy House earlier this year, you will recognize about half the jokes, but fear not; she has reworked and tweaked her material, in the spirit of the Amphibian program, and hence is giving DFW what amounts to a whole new show.
Zamata was a capable performer on SNL, but the stage suits her brand of comedy best of all. That’s because her material is drawn from her life experiences, but she refines that material into a hilarious style all her own—she’s not a cookie-cutter “observational” comic.
She talks about going down rabbit holes in researching her jokes, and lets us in follow her down in the most amusing, charming, and informative way. After seeing her show, you will know more about pineapples and Amelia Earhart than you ever did before.
But the rabbit-hole effect is also on display when her material broaches more delicate topics or her personal experiences; one joke/observation/story leads to the next in a way that’s so natural that even calling them segues is selling Zamata short.
I’ve come to understand that comics taking part in the Amphibian are faced with a unique challenge, and that is the audience largely consists of theatergoers, many of whom are season-ticket holders, rather than comedy junkies.
The good news for comics is, the audience is gentle, forgiving, and loves to laugh. They are not a tough crowd. However, Zamata posed a question, open at first to any woman in the audience to answer, and then rephrased it so that anyone of any gender could answer.
In other words, she was trying to do crowd work, but it was crickets from the audience. I know it was a personal and challenging question she asked (not to give too much away), but I have a message to theatergoers who don’t normally go see live comedy: help a comic out. In that moment, she was dyin’ up there (eventually, a guy did answer her question, and she handled it all with aplomb).
The opening comics were the local KeLanna Spiller, who should teach workshops on facial expressions because she employs them so well in her set, and Kenny DeForest, whose observations about growing old are witty and dovetail nicely with Zamata’s style.
Above all, Zamata’s act is whip-smart and self-deprecating, and you have four more chances to go see her. Take advantage.
Sasheer Zamata performs at 8 nightly through Saturday, Dec. 1.