Through comedy, Solomon Georgio can find wonder almost anywhere. At least, that’s the impression I had when we spoke. A source of constant wonder throughout his career is travel – touring and seeing parts of the world he wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
“Comedy is just a fun wonderful thing, and it’s nice to go to a new city and introduce yourself to a new audience. They’re meeting me for the first time. I’m meeting them for the first time. So, it’s like a conversation… but I’m the only one that’s allowed to talk.”
Corvallis will get a chance for a one-sided conversation with Georgio when he performs January 12 at the Majestic.
When I asked Georgio to describe his comedy to a new audience, he shared his identity, style, and hopes.
“I’m a gay black immigrant. My jokes range from absurd to storytelling. I know I’ve lived a weird life and I like to share it with people. My set is a way of welcoming people into my world.”
Just a glimpse into Georgio’s world is nothing short of interesting. His family moved from Ethiopia to St. Louis in the winter of 1985, when he was only four. The family found warmer climes in Fresno. Neither place impressed Georgio that much. But when he was 12, Georgio’s family moved to Seattle, and he fell in love with it – “It was wonderful.”
Comedy made adjusting to American language and culture easier. Sitcoms like “I Love Lucy,” “Laverne and Shirley,” “The Three Stooges,” and other forms of comedy became obsessions for Georgio and his family.
“It became a safe space and a teacher for us when it came to figuring out a whole new country.”
Though, the response from Georgio’s family regarding his career has been mixed. He’s not sure about his parents, who he described as traditional Africans, but his two brothers are really into it.
“I love having them in the audience because they literally laugh from me being on stage and looking in their general direction. I think when you have a sibling getting on stage, you’re just like ‘What is up?’ They’re very wonderful. They’re very supportive.”
Georgio always liked being on stage, but comedy took time to perfect. At first, Georgio could only be unintentionally funny, but mastering it became an obsession. At 17, he gave it a shot. It didn’t go well, and that initial attempt kept him from trying again for eight years.
Working a 9 to 5 corporate job, Georgio spent a lot of time at the Capital Club in Seattle. One night, he and a friend made the bartender laugh, and that was enough to convince them to do a comedy show. They got excited and told all their friends about it, but then Georgio’s friend admitted he had horrible stage fright and backed out. Georgio ended up performing 45 minutes by himself. It was an ambitious first set, but he was hooked.
“It lit a fire under me and I started going to open mics at the Comedy Underground. That was the first time in my life that it began to click. Comedy made a lot more sense in finding my voice and what I wanted.”
The Seattle comedy community was very supportive the five years Georgio was there. Comics helped each other out there, and the audiences were honest in their responses all while being welcoming.
“They’re not going to give you a pity laugh,” Georgio said with a snicker, “but they’re definitely not going to kick you off stage if you falter a little.”
Portland was important for Gerogio’s early comedy, too. He would go there for individual shows and the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. At the festival, Georgio could see and perform alongside comics he admired while also getting to hang out with them.
Wanting to push his comedy further, Georgio moved to Los Angeles. In the six years he’s been there, he continued to perform while working in restaurants to support himself. After he got a spot on “Conan” in 2015, his career started taking off.
“Sometimes it will require a lot of work,” Georgio explains about comedy, “diligently doing it over and over again. Sometimes a joke just lands and you just have it in that moment and you keep it. And that’s one thing that’s wonderful about comedy, it’s malleable, it’s something that can change. It can become a brick wall or a bowl of jelly. It’s really just one of those things that once you think you have it figured out, it’ll change up on you and you have to figure it out again.”
Now Georgio is doing comedy full time. He just did a half-hour special and released an album, Homonegro Superior, with Comedy Central. Currently, he’s writing on a show he can’t talk about and going on the road, headlining for the first time. He’s now able to happily support himself on his comedy, “It’s very sweet relief.”
I guess you could say that it’s wonderful.
Georgio’s website is thesolomongeorgio.com.
by Andy Hahn