Quick Q+A: Blackout + John Gebretatose

Blackout

Not too long ago a local DJ couldn’t stop talking off our ear about the late night show from all-black improv troupe Blackout. And since then, she isn’t the group’s only super-fan we’ve run into. Blackout’s on-the-spot comedic performances—that also involves their audience in dialog on difficult social issues—have entertained and educated many new and returning fans in MPLS + STPL. 

This Friday at their regular spot at the Phoenix Theater, Blackout celebrates a busy two years of comedy in which they’ve showcased their informative and interactive act all over town. Before the big party, we sent some quick questions to Co-founder John Gebretatose about all the places they’re performing these days, any difficulty with The North, and what to expect from their big party. 

Secrets of the City: Two year anniversary, recently a part of the totally sold out event Charlottesville Revisited, a part of New Griots Festival—what’s it like to be a big-time Improv group?

It’s amazing. We have been killing it and have not stopped since our first show. We work hard, we support each other and make each other look good. We are excited to see where we can take it to next. My personal dream is to sell out First Ave. As well touring our act. In due time.

Do you see Blackout as a part of a larger scene, whether it’s an improv scene or POC arts scene? Or is the group just exceptional?

All the above. We are talented as fuck. Every person on the team has a unique voice and plays with no fear.

Have you been at the Phoenix for the last two years? How has that venue played a role in developing your shows/materials?

Our regular show every 3rd Friday of the month at 10:30 PM has been at the Phoenix. But we’ve been all over the world representing Blackout.

The Phoenix has been wonderful and our partnership is based on honesty and respect. They respect us and allow us the freedom to just do us. That’s really the only way for us to really do what we do.

Dialogues with the audience have been a key part of your shows, have there been any particularly difficult interactions over the past two years? Or did MN Nice keep things civil and repressed?

There’s been shows that follow a tragedy in the black community and we address issues head on. As far the audience, no matter how polite they want to be, we will call out and make fun of whatever we want and need to. People usually come to our show knowing what to expect, but if they don’t what we do and they are MN Nice, well, I guess they have some things to figure out about their life that night. Like who told them they should see Blackout? What is ok to laugh at? How far is the exit door from their seat? And whatever else they are wondering. Obviously, we can’t control that so we just do us. We just be funny, have honest discussions and maybe we all leave learning something new. Maybe.

Scale of 1-10, how crazy is the the Two Year Anniversary Party on Friday going to get, especially by midnight?

10 or higher. We are celebrating Black Excellence!

Tickets still available for Blackout Presents: Two-Year Anniversary Show. Friday, 10:30 PM. $10.