Soul Comedy at Warmdaddy’s: Interview with TuRae
by Kyle Morris
TuRae has been doing comedy for almost 20 years years. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he discovered his talent after being dared to go on stage in college. Since then, he has built a name for himself in the comedy scene and has earned praise throughout the country, performing at dozens of high profile shows, such as Night at the Apollo, HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, BET’s Comic View, and more. Main Course caught up with TuRae on the debut of his Philadelphia weekly comedy showcase, Soul Comedy, at Warmdaddy’s, located at 1400 S. Christopher Columbus Road, to discuss his life and career as a comedian.
TuRae insists he wouldn’t be a comedian if it weren’t for friend and event organizer Dee Lee, who helped to develop and advance his career. "He taught me all there is to know. How to structure and promote my events, book artists and the order in which to bring them to the stage, and suggested that I host my own events, practice my new material while doing so, and build my following and skills from there [the stage].”
TuRae continued, "There was a time when Philly didn't have a black comedy club, we had to perform where ever we could. Dee Lee invested in the Laff House, and since then, we have multiple black comedy clubs and shows— when [in the past] there was only a handful— where the sets may be five performers with 15 minute sets or more." Comedy is an art and you must have respect for it.
TuRae started his comedy career at Temple University, after being dared to go on stage by an event organizer at a show. "I remember her first name was Stacey, and she was a member of the board who put the show together. I caught up with her on Facebook, and she gave me my accolades for my accomplishments, because when I didn't think I was funny, she pushed me."
TuRae frequently doubted his talent, and it was his parents who made him realize he had a way with comedy. Around the time he began his career, TuRae's parents moved to Georgia. "My dad asked, ‘Why don't you get an apartment?’” His father calculated how much money TuRae had made in the last year. It was enough to support himself. “So, I quit school, and became a full time comedian.” TuRae credits his parents’ loving support for his success and style of comedy. Six years into his career, while pondering what he was going to talk about, his mother told him, "Talk about what you know and be yourself."
TuRae found his first paid gig while performing at a talent competition at the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. (TuRae won first place for his comedy act there; he claims to still have the trophy.) It was at that competition that a band member from a competing act approached TuRae about a regular open mic night event his cousin hosted at the Laff House, something which TuRae would be a good fit for. He made plans to perform, but with only $5.00 to spare, couldn’t afford the bus and subway. His dad, who was struggling himself, offered to drive him to the event.
It wasn’t until they arrived that they learned the club was charging a $3.00 cover fee. Unable to pay for the both of them, his father stayed in the car while TuRae performed. Angered, not at the fact that he had to pay to get in, but because he didn't have the money to pay for both him and his father, TuRae turned his frustration into victory and won the $100 cash prize. He was asked afterwards to become a regular host for the club, but even this victory couldn’t remove the disappointment from not having his dad witness his defining moment.
To learn more info about TuRae’s regular comedy showcase, Soul Comedy, showing every Wednesday at Warmdaddy’s, visit www.comedybyturae.com.