Connecting people through laughter

Going through life, people have countless labels attached to them.

They are categorized based on their race, religion, political affiliation and dozens of other aspects.

The labels by themselves are not necessarily bad. But in using them to describe someone, you can strip away their humanity and miss who they really are, argues comedian Dwight Simmons.

“It always makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up,” he said. “We’re always asking what are you, what do you believe in, what religion, what party, instead of getting to know the crux of what makes a human being unique.”

Simmons has had labels attached to him his entire life. Now, with a new one-man show, the Greenwood resident has attempted to break down why people feel the need to label others, and the effects it can have on everyone from children to teens to adults.

“Seeking Consciousness” will enjoy a six-show run during this year’s IndyFringe Fest. The topic Simmons approaches is a serious one, distilled through Simmons’ cutting sense of humor. He hopes illustrates the dangers labeling others can have, and how people can find an appreciation of who they are.

“I’ve kind of had this obsession about why we feel the need to place labels on one another,” he said. “The goal with this show is to take the audience through my experience with really hating the titles that have been placed upon me, and how that affects me and my loved ones as well.”

Simmons is established in comedy circles here in Indianapolis. He started doing stand-up in Bloomington, trying out sets at the famed Comedy Attic. Soon, he was doing bigger shows at clubs around the region.

He was the winner of the Indiana Comedy Festival in 2013, and was the RAW: Indianapolis performer of the year in 2012.

His most recent stand-up album, “Pacifist Aggressive,” reached No. 1 on iTunes. He has been touring throughout the country for the past few weeks.

Simmons uses his own life, from growing up split between predominantly wealthy and predominantly poor environments to his experiences as an adult.

“I wanted it to be biographical, and really explore why I have the viewpoints that I have, especially with the climate we have in society today, where everyone wants to label us with what we are, not getting to know who we are,” he said.

The effects of labeling has caused distress throughout Simmons’ life. But in presenting those concepts to an audience, he figured the best way to do it was with comedy.

He tells some humorous stories about his life, with the hope that if he can get people laughing, they might be a little bit more open to his message.

“The lens I see the world through is a comedic one. It’s easy to relate to someone when they’re doing something through humor. I want to be honest with myself about certain situations, then put that through the lens and convey it to the audience as something they’d appreciate,” he said. “Comedy disarms people.”

If you go

“Seeking Consciousness”

Who: Greenwood resident Dwight Simmons

When: 9 p.m. Aug. 18, 1:30 p.m. Aug. 19, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20, 6 p.m. Aug. 23, 10:30 p.m. Aug. 26 and 4:30 p.m. Aug. 27.

Where: 749 N. Park Ave., Indianapolis

Tickets: $15 adults, $12 seniors and students, $10 children 12 and under.

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.