Two huge speakers were blasting at me and Wayne Manigo as we chatted at the bar in Ras Restaurant on Tuesday evening while the snow started sticking to the streets. It was Wayne Man’s Comedy open mic night at the restaurant and it did not seem like anyone was going to make it. This DC comic was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and has been a Washingtonian for nine years. He was your every day working man until he was laid off one day, which was not funny, but the job loss helped him to discover comedy. At the time he was plotting his next move he said to himself, “This is the perfect opportunity to see if I can be funny.” Wayne worked with a friend that was already doing stand up to write some jokes and performed for the first time at the Palace of Wonders, Red Palace now, on H Street. He said to me that after his performance people said, “Hey, you don’t suck.” He has been stepping into the spotlight for two years strong since he found his ability to make people’s abdominal muscles contract.
Wayne, 45 “going on 46 and having fun with it”, said that his immediate goals are to make DC known as a place for comedy. “People think that to make it in comedy you have to go to L.A. or New York and I think that’s bull.” He further added that DC is full of talent and places to see comedy, but the problem is that regular folks only know about the DC Improv and have to find out about other places through word of mouth. Wayne’s most recent show at the Ethiopian/Jamaican restaurant* got its start when he went there for dinner and noticed that there was an ad for an open mic there. Wayne spoke with the owners about it and they immediately asked him when he could start. Six days later, a couple tweets here and there, and a Facebook wall post and the room was packed with about 30 people and has had five successful shows.
Wayne has a long career working as an IT professional and this November he’s planning to sponsor a table for DC Week where he will be teaching people how to use social media to create a following and build an online presence. He told me that it’s important to give back what you know to the community and said he will be there to, “Share what I know and learn what I don’t.” Last October he teamed up with successful comic Sylvia Traymore-Morrison and organized the Starting Stand Up Conference, which was an affordable event for comics that are just entering the game to meet comics that are more experienced and meet promoters that run showcases. A date for the next conference has not been scheduled yet, but it is in the works.
Check out Wayne Manigo’s comedy open mic every Tuesday at Ras Restaurant (4809 Georgia Ave. NW) starting at 8 PM. You can also catch him cracking jokes when he’s hosting dance parties at the monthly BlueBeatDC Ska party at Solly’s Tavern every third Wednesday of the month, as well as hosting the Sexy Party at Chief Ike’s, which plays music by the artist formerly known as the Artist that I think is now Prince. Keep up with him on Twitter: @waynemancomedy.
* Fun fact; the countries are tied together through the Rastafarian religion. That’s what the friendly bartender said as I thought aloud, “So is this a Jamaican Restaurant or what?”