In the first of our monthly “drop-ins”, where Scoop: Nashville will celebrate Black-owned businesses or events in Nashville, we attended a comedic roast of Scoop: Nashville founder, Jason Steen. The roast, presented by Comedian Herman Black, who goes by ‘Da Herm’ at his ‘Out East Comedy Club’ was an experience that left many wondering if he understood what a ‘roast’ was intended to be? Thankfully, his opening act saved the day, with an amazing set by Comedian Leroy. Throughout the hour+ performance, Da Herm deflected attention away from his attempts at humor by choosing to wear some of the world’s most defining sweat pants that left little to the imagination during #SweatPantsSeason, so the audience had at least one of their senses stimulated during the performance. Though he roasted Steen about his recent run-in with the law, ‘Da Herm’ failed to mention his history of getting caught with his pants down at a local park, or his own burglary and theft charges, or how the police once tricked him into selling the things he stole back to them in a sting.
Let’s start with what a “roast” is… it’s an event in which one guest is joked about and made fun of by his or her peers, The roasters are typically assembled on a dias, and there’s a roastmaster, (or host) who does jokes at the opening and then introduces each guest. The roasters then take turns doing jokes about the guest of honor, as well as the other comedians on the dais. A roast usually ends with the guest of honor ( roastee) getting the opportunity for a rebuttal against all of the insults hurled at him or her in the course of the evening. Now that we’ve determined what a comedic roast IS, let’s talk about what Friday night as the Out East Comedy Club wasn’t – it wasn’t a roast. It was one man with an agenda, who sold out his comedic integrity to take a few cheap shots at the man who published the most-read crime news (and mugshots) in Nashville.
The dias was a disaster. He attempted to bring Steen on-stage before he was even roasted. The roastee’s rebuttal is always reserved for the end of the show, otherwise, he has nothing to rebut. Steen declined the invitation to do any type of pre-rebuttals since he had yet to be roasted.
In the eighty-five minutes of ‘performance’ by Comedian ‘Da Herm’, he had 2 jokes that landed, and 92 attempts at “fat” jokes, 91 one of which received no response from anyone in the audience. That’s more than one per minute – at least he’s got stamina (more on that later). The first ten minutes of his performance were standard “roast” type insult-humor – the bread and butter of comedic roasts. After that short period, he ranted for over an hour, attempting to have a personal one-sided conversation from the stage with the roastee. There was no humor, just a series of un-funny questions about the business of Scoop Nashville, would Steen apologize for what he perceived were his “wrongs” in life, as if he were the ultimate judge of how life was to be lived. Despite the crowd giving obvious signs, this wasn’t what they came for, ‘Da Herm’ carried on with his personal attacks, even offering up ways to change the business model of Scoop: Nashville to better suit the needs he felt were important – things that no one in the audience came for. You can view the full set below.
In an interview with the East Nashvillian, Herman Black explains that Out East has hosted a kids’ night on Sundays. “That’s a way for kids to build up their skills, get confidence on stage and also prepare some of the stars of the future,” ‘Da Herm’ adds. “Hey if they’re good enough we can even book them for the adult shows as well. It was very important when I was starting out to get the chance to show what I could do, and that’s part of this club’s mission now, to let the light shine on young people and also on comedians all over the city and region who might not otherwise get the chance to develop their acts in front of a live audience.”
While busy roasting Steen about his criminal charges and mentoring children who want to be comics, Herman Black often forgets to mention his own brushes with the law. He was charged with public indecency after being found at a white van inside Hadley Park with “his pants halfway down, revealing his bottom”. On another occasion, Black and an associate were found breaking into Omid Market on Rains Ave. Black’s most prevalent charges come from the time when he took over $10,000 of locksmithing equipment from someone’s work vehicle on Carolyn Ave, then posted it online for sale. MNPD set up a sting operation when the victim noticed the post online, and sent an undercover cop to meet Herman and confirmed it was the stolen property. Black ran away from the officers when they attempted to take him into custody, however, they were standing beside the van he drove to the meeting, which had his registration, tags, and YMCA ID hanging from the mirror. He was positively identified and taken into custody. Black responded to a preview of this story, stating he shouldn’t be faulted for liking to have sex in cars.
Black’s felony attempted burglary charge was reduced to misdemeanor theft, and he was given probation. His evading arrest and trespass charges were rolled into that plea. For another felony theft over $10K in 2016, Black plead down to a misdemeanor and received another year of probation in the deal. He has had multiple other smaller charges.
If you’re going to check out the Out East Comedy Club, know what you’re getting into. The show started late on this evening, as Black had to make a trip to the local convenience store to purchase beer to sell at the show. There was no organization and no preparation for comics or guests. It was much like a frat party, complete with furniture you’re afraid to sit on, and alcohol that you hope is stronger than all the other germs in the venue. Black seemed more than disappointed when he realized Steen only agreed to do the roast because of his attractiveness, and not because he believed he was funny. You can book tickets for Da Herm’s shows at www.outeastcomedyclub.com.