It is not easy to make a successful come back in the entertainment business, but comedian-actress Kim Coles demonstrates that she has accomplished that feat in the Bethesda premiere of her heartfelt and hilarious one-woman show: Oh, But Wait…There’s More! last Thursday night at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club.
Truly a renaissance woman, and a pioneer in many ways, Coles is best known for her five-season turn as the zany character “Synclaire” on Fox’s groundbreaking hit Living Single, as well as her appearance on numerous other shows, including: Frasier; Six Feet Under; In Living Color; TBS’s comedy series, 10 Items Or Less; BET’s My Black is Beautiful; The Mole; VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club; BET’s Pay it Off, (becoming the first African-American woman to host a primetime game show); and OWN’s Are You Normal, America?.
In addition to her many television roles, Coles is the author of the best-selling book, I’m Free, But It Will Cost You: The Single Life According to Kim Coles. She has also co-written and starred in her own award-winning play, Homework. If that is not enough, Coles combines comedy and inspiration to empower others with her unique initiative called “Open the G.I.F.T.S.” Through speaking engagements, live events, workshops and products, the program inspires others to discover their own true “gifts” so that they may share them with the world.
In her latest self-written production, Oh, But Wait…There’s More!, Coles shares her lessons on life, spirituality, relationships and growing up Hollywood style by effectively employing a vintage conversational-confessional format and taking the audience on a trip down her personal memory lane, starting from her “bougie” Brooklyn upbringing (she grew up “a little wack-a-doodle” thanks to parents with strong personalities) to her rise to fame, which had many memorable highs and lows.
Under Scotch Ellis Loring’s direction, Coles relays how she parlayed her Brooklyn private grade school gravitas into class-clown supremacy and high school popularity. From there, Coles began her Hollywood journey when she became the runner up in the Big Beautiful Woman Pageant in Atlantic City and rode the wave to plus-size modeling, discovering that she had a marketable talent for show business, which eventually leads her to engagements with industry leaders, Bill Cosby and, the queen of television herself, Oprah Winfrey.
Set on a simple stage, with a large, overhead projection screen displaying everything from her childhood days, modeling stints, vacation excursions and celebrity encounters, Coles’ comedic chops and purposeful sincerity are uplifting and refreshing. Her conversational style and upbeat energy carry priceless zeal, great anecdotes and Coles’ seamless spontaneity. These take her through the confessional elements of her career decline, economic woes and clinical depression, which were incredibly honest and touching. Coles’ detailed recount of the telephone conversation with “Jackie,” a collection specialist regarding a past due account was particularly poignant.
Wholeheartedly transparent and vulnerable, Coles really conveys the profound depth of her shame and pain during that financially and emotionally difficult period of her life. On the flip side, Coles riotously divulges very fortuitous moments such as her hour-long telephone conversation with Bill Cosby, detailing her copiously note-taking of his critiques on a “filet” envelope while needing to use the bathroom (she swore us to secrecy on the rest!) and other good fortunes to follow. Coles nicely balances the good with the bad, intermittently showcasing her mastery of accents such as her no-nonsense Puerto Rican Girl Scout troop leader; celebrity impressions, including Bill Cosby and Eartha Kitt (the most famous Catwoman); and comedic creativity with her montage of the iconic miniseries, Roots, as well as the epic trip with her mother to the Walmart bathroom.
With her signature sass and irrepressible, goofy charm, Coles presents a sidesplitting, crowd-pleasing show, chronicling the ebb and flow of her showbiz rise that not only arouses continuous laughter, but offers incandescent insight and inspiration to anyone who has hit a rough patch in life and needs a comical reset to power through, new find meaning, self-empowerment, joy and gratitude. No matter what Coles reveals, highs or lows, her life experiences make for engaging storytelling. “My gift is love and laugher,” Coles says, and judging by the standing ovation and uproarious applause, following her show, it appears she has certainly got that right.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission.
Kim Coles performed on November 13, 2014 at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club – 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, in Bethesda, MD. Future events at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz and Supper Club can be found on their website.