“A leader is someone that can inspire and delegate others to greatness for a common goal.”
Keith Price, Texas native, comedian and Sirius XM radio co-host of The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick, is fun and fabulous in a nutshell. In honor of Black History Month, Out Impact would like to highlight Keith as a leader in the LGBTQ community for the strides he has made through his work in radio, and spreading his message of love and fabulosity to people, around the country, through comedy. In an interview with Out Impact, Keith opened up about his humble beginnings, the chance-making of his documentary,“EBONY CHUNKY LOVE: BITCH CAN’T GET A DATE!”, what Black History Month means to him and his next big move.
What made you want to get into comedy? Were you funny growing up?
Keith: I had always been told that I was silly and funny by my family and peers. I was not really the class clown, but I did have a smart mouth that got me into trouble, and also got me out of it. Being a child of the 70’s, I lived for sitcoms, funny movies and anything with a musical number.
I always wanted to try comedy, but I was not familiar with the protocol. One day after returning home from work, I was about to throw out the Sunday paper when a magazine supplement, featuring various classes that you could take for fun and enlightenment, fell out of the stack and landed on a page for a class called the Comedy Gym taught by a guy named Sam Cox. Sam was the first person to show me how to take your life stories and make them funny. He taught me the basic joke structure, using the comedy rule of three and basic microphone etiquette. Sam always said that you do not really succeed at comedy until you find your “voice”. The challenge of finding my voice led me to New York City, and it changed my life.
How did your entrance into the radio industry come about?
Keith: It all began with visiting the same person that I am working with now. I used to run a comedy show that had rotating guests. One of my guests happened to be doing a radio show, and he invited me along with him as a way to promote my comedy night. Larry Flick was the host of the show, and we instantly hit it off. It started with a flip comment about All My Children; we were talking to each other like old hens within minutes. As time went on, I started appearing as a regular guest on the show. Then one day, I got a call from Larry telling me that there was going to be a change in the show’s format, and he wanted me to come in for an audition. The rest is radio history.
Who would you say inspires you?
Keith: Right now people losing incredible amounts of weight are my inspiration. I am in the trenches of the bulge battle, and it is not fun. It gets harder every day, but I keep trying to do something. I think teachers are some of the most inspirational people to me. When it comes to comedy, I am inspired more by events and entertainment than people in general. Topics like having a black president, the Kardashians, the fiscal cliff and the Middle East, for example, makes for good comedy inspirations.
What do you feel makes a leader?
Keith: A leader is someone that can inspire and delegate others to greatness for a common goal. In order to be a good leader, I think that person has to be able to not sweat the small stuff, and know what is really important. He or she knows which battles are truly worth fighting for.
As it is February, what does Black History Month mean to you?
Keith: For the longest time, I have always had an issue with the shortest month of the year trying to encapsulate our place in history. However, it has always been great because it makes me stop and take a moment to remember that this country is composed of not only African-Americans, but women, immigrants and other disenfranchised groups.
Being a First Generation American (the product of Honduran parents) and gay, it was always hard to figure out where I belonged, but as I have grown, I take advantage of all of the holidays that I am able to celebrate. Any opportunity for young people and a few old fogies to own their ancestry with pride is the best thing about honoring anybody’s history.
Who are some leaders that come to mind when you think of the strides black men and women have made thus far?
Keith: When I think of black leaders that have made strides, it’s always easy to refer to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, but there are also people like Shirley Chisom. Shirley Chisom was a Congresswoman who represented New York’s 12th Congressional District from 1969 to 1983, became the first African-American woman elected to Congress, the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. We seem to forget her when as we celebrate the accomplishments of president Obama.
Having grown up in Texas, I cannot forget to mention Barbara Jordan, who was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives.
As for LGBT folks, I cannot help but think about Bayard Rustin, who was one of the significant players in helping organize the famous March on Washington, that spurred the “I Have A Dream” speech. So as time goes on, we must remember these people and their contributions, and thank them by participating in some aspect of the world that they have made better for us.
What impact do you feel you’ve made in the gay community? As a comedian? In the radio industry?
Keith: In comedy, by merely being present and open about my experiences as a black man, a gay man, an overweight man, and a HUman, appeals to so many people. I think that my overall impact is felt through being able to laugh at the sum of all of those parts. As far as my impact on the gay community, it is hard to see it concretely from the studio. Being out and open on a national radio show has been great because for so many people in many pockets of this country, I am one more LGBT voice for them to hear and experience. Being the first out, African-American on satellite radio, on a daily show, makes me proud. It is hard to look at myself as having an impact all of the time because even within our own ranks of the LGBT community, there are those who think that I am too gay or too black, not gay enough or sometimes not black enough for their taste. So I choose to continue to be myself and hope that whatever impact that I do make, will be of service to someone.
Tell our readers about “EBONY CHUNKY LOVE: BITCH CAN’T GET A DATE!” How did it come about? What was the inspiration behind it?
Keith: It all started with a trip to Canada where I met a great friend with a camera and a vision. After being single for so many years, I discovered what I like to call Utopia for black men: Montreal. While I was there, I met a college professor from Seattle named Lonnie Renteria at a Bed and Breakfast while I was visiting with some friends from New York. We totally hit it off, primarily because this little boy from the barrios was able to throw down with some fierce bitches from the Big Apple.
After becoming friends, he started to do work with film and moved to Montreal. One day, during a visit to see him, we were just joking around and I told him about this idea I had about doing a one man show called Ebony Chunky Love. It was to be about my misadventures in the world of dating. I was telling him some of my silly stories, and he got his idea to turn on a camera and follow me around Montreal. When I got back to New York, I did my show, and I sent him the footage.
After viewing the footage with some of his colleagues, Lonnie came back to me with this brilliant idea of a documentary about my comedy and its impact on entertainment, my LGBT presence, body image issues, race, relationships, etc. from a sociological perspective. The next thing I know, we are touring at film festivals around the country, and recently enjoyed a TV run on LOGO.
I have to admit that the basis of the piece was about my anger with my father and him calling me fat at 10, but sometimes you can never underestimate the power of comedy.
Is there anything you would like to accomplish that you haven’t thus far in your career?
Keith: I consider myself a comedian who moves well and can carry a tune. With those skills, I would love to be a regular on a TV sitcom, and I certainly would love to be in a fun, comical Broadway show or musical. Those are on the bucket list of adventure.
What are some of the current projects you are working on?
Keith: Right now, I just started working with a potential new manager, who, along with my boyfriend and friends, including filmmaker Lonnie, are encouraging me to get the second installment of Ebony Chunky Love up and running. I am still organizing and writing, and hopefully will be performing it over the summer. I hope to be able to tour with it. I especially want to go to some of the places that the listeners who live in those pockets of America, I mentioned before, will be able to see me in person and make the connection. I have been promoted to assistant producer, while remaining a co-host, so I am also working on some radio features that will air later this year.
Are there any charity activities you are doing this year and/or supporting that our readers should be aware of?
Keith: I have a couple of charities that I do love to support; one of them is Legacy Community Health Services. I discovered this place right after Hurricane Katrina. These people went to the Astrodome in Houston to find the displaced New Orleans people with HIV, and help them get back on some sort of medication regiments and tend to their needs. I was so moved when I heard about them that I had to do something. I am also a great supporter of the work of Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS. This organization has raised millions of dollars for AIDS/HIV services worldwide. It is run by the most amazing man named Tom Viola. They do great fundraising through the theater community with some of the most amazing and unique events. I also love the work of the Trevor Project; they are helping so many LGBT youths find better solutions than suicide.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Keith: I used to play the piano in my youth church choir, when I was a kid, and I secretly loved playing the Tuba in the band.