Henry Sapp, a Grand Rapids native nicknamed “the Doctor of Comedy,” has been doing standup across the country for almost nine years.
“I used to host a lot of shows, and a young lady…close to her wedding day asked me to do a comedy show,” Sapp said. “We went back and forth, back and forth, and I told her, ‘Well, I’ll try it, but if I bomb, it’s your fault.’”
Since then Sapp has performed at events around the country, including Grand Rapids’ LaughFest. On Feb. 14, he will be at Grand Valley State University to emcee the Positive Black Women’s annual Valentine’s Day Luncheon.
“I just enjoy making people laugh,” Sapp said. “My philosophy is we go through so much hell during the week, we should at least try to find one thing to laugh at.”
Three years ago, the PBW program changed from strictly presentation and speakers to lift the spirits of women at GVSU.
“We opened it up to the wider GVSU community, and made it into more of a specific event that featured poets that aren’t for spoken word,” said Michelle McCloud, PBW president.
For the past three years the luncheon has featured guest emcees who speak or perform poetry, and then open the floor to pre-registered readers.
However, this year the program has changed again to include Sapp’s comedy.
“This year we added comedy to the program because our emcee is going to be Henry Sapp, and so we’re trying to open it up so it’s not only poetry, but also comedy as well,” McCloud said.
Past Valentine’s Day poetry readings have drawn crowds of 100-200 people, along with five or six registered poets.
“This year, we’re expecting — or our goal, is to have 10 to 15 poets, as well as the emcee,” McCloud said. “We’re hoping that we get some more people involved.”
Although interested student poets were encouraged to register before Feb. 1, they can still sign up at the door.
“We’ve definitely had interest, and we expect a bunch of people to sign up on the day of the event as they walk in,” McCloud said.
The Valentine’s Day Comedy and Poetry Jam is an opportunity to display the variety of talent and “creative minds” GVSU has, McCloud said, along with providing a caring environment for attendees.
“There’re a lot of people who don’t have anyone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with,” McCloud said. “So this is a good time to come in and feel the festivities of the holiday.”
The luncheon begins at noon in the Pere Marquette Room inside the Kirkhof Center and is free and open to the GVSU community. Light food and refreshments will be provided for guests, while supplies last.
For more information or to register as a poet, contact PBW at [email protected]