This week TSD had an opportunity to sit down with the visionary producers of the upcoming April 20th Designs and Punchlines (D/P) Comedy and Fashion Show. Comedian Eugene “Spankie” Broyls (ESB) and entrepreneur and event promoter extraordinaire, Niki Smith-Brown (NSB) have teamed up to bring a unique concept in entertainment to the Memphis community. This week they shared the background and a few inside thoughts about D/P with the New Tri-State Defender.
TSD: So how did Designs and Punchlines (D/P) come to be? Whose vision was it?
ESB: You want to answer that Niki or you want me to take that one Niki?
NSB: No I’m going to let you answer that one Spank!
ESB: Well, I was watching B.E.T. Rip the Runway and I took noticed that every time I see a fashion show they always put together fashion and music, but nobody every puts together fashion and comedy. So Niki and I met at Loretta McNary’s television talk show initially and then again at another event when I ran the idea by her, “How would you like to do a fashion and comedy show?” She was like nah. (laughter) She was definitely not too thrilled with the idea until I provided her with more of the details.
NSB: No it wasn’t that I wasn’t too thrilled about the idea. What I told him was that I really don’t do collaborations (with other event promoters). But, when he told me exactly what was going to make the show different—I said that’s what’s up! That’s a hot show right there! That’s unique. I am used to being a trendsetter in the things I do in Memphis as far as my shows are concerned. I thought it was something no one in this area had done before and that it was go over well in the market. That was about two years ago that we begin working on development of the concept.
TSD: So this has been two years in the making?
ESB: Yep, two years in the making! Some of the elements that I implemented to make it different included having local celebrities and people of note as the models. People like the mayor, on air personalities and of course people like the TSD President and Publisher, Bernal E. Smith, II who will be one of our runway models!
TSD: That’s a great concept, who are some of the other local celebrities that we can expect to see on Saturday?
NSB: Yvette Whiteside, ABC24 News, Chief Inspector Larry Hill of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, we have Patricia McKinney from the Daily News, Gabrielle Lewis, Miss Black Memphis these are a few of those that will grace the runway with President Smith!
TSD: What about on the laughter side of things? Who are some of the comedians we can expect to see?
ESB: Comedian Tony Tone, who is probably most noted for being the Ring Master with the Universoul Circus that travels all around the country. He’s a very talented and funny guy.
TSD: Yeah we’re familiar with Tony Tone, is he still on tour with Universoul?
ESB: Yes he is still on the road with them doing his thing, making them laugh under the big top!! But will be bringing the laughs to Memphis on Saturday. And then we also have headlining the show, Ms. Vanessa Fraction, seen on BET Comic View, Def Comedy Jam, Martin Lawrence’s First Amendment, the movie Beauty Shop 2 with Queen Latifah, and she currently writes for the show 106 and Park. She was also in the television show, Girls Behaving Badly on the Oxygen network.
TSD: Wow she’s got a great resume!
NSB: Don’t forget Memphis’ own Rob Love who will be the opening comedian for the show, a very funny guy!
ESB: Then we have hosting the show, a hip hop legend, the one and only Ms. Roxanne Shante!!
TSD: Who could forget the loquacious Roxanne Shante, who brought it verbally to the brothers in hip hop back in the day!!
ESB: Roxanne!! Roxanne!!
TSD: So for people buying or have BOUGHT tickets to attend the show, what can they expect? When they walk through the door what should they expect? A lively, upbeat environment? More laid back? Upscale affair?
NSB: We have a couple of different facets to the show. We have our pre-show VIP reception. It starts an hour prior to the show, from 6 to 7 pm. Those guests will enter the fabulous Balinese Ballroom on the red carpet where we will have a team conducting red carpet interviews including live internet radio broadcast! They will enter into a wonderfully catered event where they will be able to take pictures with the models and comedians. Nothing but a sleek, sexy upscale environment, jazz will be playing as our guests enjoy the food catered by Felecia Bean Catering. The show actually begins at 7pm for those who are coming for general admission. We will have a host of vendors from shoes, to clothes to beauty products on hand for guests to browse and shop. Once the show is over at 10pm we will move right into the after party and it will indeed be a party!!
TSD: So this will definitely be an all adult affair, not suitable for children?
ESB: Strictly 21 and up, grown and sexy affair!!
TSD: So are there tickets still available? How do they get them?
NSB: There are a very limited number of 25.00 general admission tickets remaining. They either call 901-451-9772 or they can visit www.designsandpunchlines.com. They can purchase tickets to the show or just to the after party, however any show tickets purchased automatically allows entrance into the after party. Otherwise the after party is $10.00.
TSD: So are there any VIP tickets still available for sale?
NSB: There are and even more limited amount of those left but they must be purchased before the show via the website. We cannot guarantee any VIP availability at the door.
TSD: We understand that a portion of the proceeds of the event are going to support a charitable organization?
ESB: Yes, we will be making a donation to Dress for Success, Inc. a 501c3 non-profit agency.
TSD: So for our readers, tell us about Dress for Success and what the agency does.
NSB: Dress of Success is a national non-profit with a successful local presence that provides clothing and training for low to moderate income or transitioning women attempting to get back into the workforce. We decided that we wanted to support and collaborate with some charitable organization and for a fashion related event what better organization than one providing clothing and support to underprivileged women? It was a perfect connection.
TSD: So what’s on the horizon following the success of the first D/P? Another one? A tour?
ESB: We’re planning on taking the show national to different parts of the country. We plan on adding a city every year. So next year we will have Designs and Punchlines Memphis and Chicago. The following year we will add Atlanta and we have people in L.A. and New York that are interested so there is lot of opportunity for us with this concept! It speaks to the uniqueness of the show and bringing two things people love—comedy and fashion-- together! Every city we go to we will keep the formula the same, using local leaders and high profile individuals as models and donating to a local charitable organization to have a positive impact in that city.
TSD: Sounds like a tremendous formula for success! TSD is excited to be an event media partner. Anything else that you guys want our readers to know about Designs and Punchlines?
NSB: I just want to encourage Memphians to support new concepts and ideas in the city, not just this show but many of the great new ideas that talented people are trying to make happen here in the city. I know that is one of the keys to our city growing and getting better.
ESB: Visit designandpunchlines.com and get your tickets if you don’t already have them and otherwise we will see you Saturday at the show!!