Alumnus Jack Coleman came to D.C. to study politics. Now he spends his time joking about the topic on stage.
Coleman, who graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, is the co-founder of Capital Laughs, an organization that hosts weekly comedy shows around the District. After starting Capital Laughs about two and a half years ago with three other comics, the group now hosts eight weekly shows and has expanded to a team of 19 people who want D.C. to be known as a top destination for comedy.
One of the eight shows put on by Capital Laughs is Coleman’s own weekly show, “U Don’t Know Jack w/ Jack,” every Wednesday at Town Tavern in Adams Morgan. As a host, Coleman creates the list of comics who will perform, seats the audience and actually hosts the show on stage.
Coleman is also behind some of Capital Laughs’ latest shows like “The Comedy Shuffle,” where any comedian – experienced or not – goes on stage and gets interrupted by a shuffler, or an experienced local comic, who will heckle the performer to entertain the audience.
While Capital Laughs shows are typically free, Coleman occasionally plans “fancy shows” that come with a price tag. Next month, one of Capital Laughs’ fancy shows will be “General Shaw’s Chicken Comedy Showcase,” where local stand-up comedians will perform, and the first five people who say “chicken” at the door will get a free chicken sandwich.
Coleman said one of his favorite parts of running Capital Laughs is the diversity of the types of comics he brings to the stage in the District. Since Capital Laughs allows comedians of all different levels to perform, many stand-up beginners have their first performances with Capital Laughs to get their feet wet in D.C.’s comedy scene.
“We put on stage more than 100 comics a week from first-timers to people with HBO and Comedy Central specials,” he said. “Helping comics get better is fun.”
While Coleman helps young comedians get their starts, he has four years of experience under his belt. He said he draws on inspiration from British comedians – landing the occasional innuendo or political jab as long as it’s not “too barbaric.” In addition to using his political science background as a source for factual – yet funny – material, he said he also discusses the fact that he is from Alabama in many of his jokes.
With a bevy of political material to joke about, Coleman said the comedy scene is “expanding significantly” in D.C.
“In five to 10 years, the big names in comedy are going to be from D.C.,” he said. “We’ve got the right amalgamation of a smart, high-expectation audience, a culture that pushes each other but isn’t competitive and comics who approach comedy with a purpose.”
Coleman said he came to D.C. to study politics and while working in a government office, he realized his love for attention could spur him into a comedy career.
“One of my bosses gave me this weird piece of Confucius-like advice: That which you can’t not do, you must do,” Coleman said. “Meaning, I am always goofing off and will always continue to, so why not try to make some money off of it.”