Bernard Henry Manning

Anyone who knows anything about Portland stand-up knows Minority Retort is the city’s premiere monthly showcase centering on voices of color in comedy. Created by Jason Lamb in 2015, the regular comedy night (sometimes monthly, sometimes twice a month) is currently hosted by Lamb, Julia Ramos, and Neeraj Srinivasan. Minority Retort not only spotlights local comedians, but also brings in hilarious talent from other cities for the enjoyment of Portland audiences. This month’s show features headliner Yedoye Travis travelling all the way from Brooklyn, though he originally hails from Atlanta. You may may have seen him at last year’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival, or maybe you missed it—that’s fine because you have a do-over at the Siren this weekend, where he’ll perform alongside local comedians James Barela, Lance Edward, and Seattle’s Aisha Faroud.

I interviewed Travis via Facebook Messenger, to avoid pretending to pronounce his name correctly—though I absolutely can (Wakanda forever!).


MERCURY: I understand you have a psychology degree. What inspired you to pursue a comedy career?

YEDOYE TRAVIS: Well, my mom told me psychology wouldn’t pay the bills, and I thought if I really worked hard I could pay even less of them.


Who were some of your early influences and mentors?

Once my dad made me drive him around while he stole oranges from the local groves in Lake Wales, FL. So that, and Richard Pryor.


What was it like getting to open for W. Kamau Bell at the 2017 Montreal Just For Laughs Festival?

It was like going on stage and then seeing yourself from the future go on stage.


Who do you think is funnier? You or Donald Glover?

Someone will disagree with me no matter what I say. They will be wrong.


Who’s your favorite problematic R&B singer and why?

If we’re going by music, I’m sure T-Pain is up to something sneaky, but I love him. If we’re going by problems, a documentary on R. Kelly would be the next Wild Wild Country. Basically, don’t trust anyone who uses their first initial.


I’m trying to spread a meme promoting the stereotype that “niggas love LaCroix.” What’s the best lie you’ve ever gotten white people to believe?

I don’t know what you’re talking about. Niggas do love LaCroix and all Black people are born in Atlanta.

JASON LAMB [interjects]: I fucking love LaCroix, Polar, Bubly, and all that shit. I have no problem putting my name on that. It’s goddamn delicious.


You’ve also appeared on CBS’ Search Party and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, but then you also have a day job as a carpenter. Would you say you’re the third most famous carpenter behind Jesus and Harrison Ford?

Nick Offerman is also doing pretty well. I’m definitely the most famous Black carpenter, which is unfortunate since I’m not good at it.


You have a brilliant, layered joke on on your album OK where you say, “We missed the boat on not being slaves.” The crowd response was a bit lukewarm, in my opinion. What is your personal favorite joke that people don’t seem to appreciate?

I do one about how Trump says he’s the least racist person, but I think he’s the fewest racist people, which is one. People don’t like grammar jokes.


Have you ever just threatened a friend for fun? Like, they just seem a little too comfortable, so you decide to shake things up a bit.

If you keep asking me questions like this I’m not doing the show.