By Joy Childs
Sentinel Contributing writer
If you’re Black and over, say, 49, then one of your favorite comics has to be Sinbad. And if you are a fan, you probably don’t need to ask, “Sinbad, where u been,” because you know that that happens to be the title of one of his latest projects, a 90-minute Comedy Central special that was broadcast earlier this year. (Available on DVD. Hmmmm . . . the perfect stocking stuffer). Filmed at downtown’s Club Nokia Theatre, it represents his first stand-up special in 13 years. You probably also know about his “Celebrity Apprentice” stint.
But what you may not have known is that since that over the last 26 years, he’s been married to Meredith for 8 years; divorced for 10; and then remarried to her for the last 8; and that he’s continued to do stand-up on the road, including this past weekend at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills.
Perhaps most importantly, though, he’s been supporting his daughter’s budding singing career. In fact, at The Canyon, Paige Bryan, strikingly gorgeous and statuesque, opened for dear old dad. Performing tunes from her November-released “IMPERFECT ME,” which Sinbad “Funkmaster” produced, she tells the sold-out crowd that it took her over 4 years—and a breakup—to complete. Her lyrics and song titles bear this out: She and her producer, Chaka Blackmon, co-wrote all the songs, which she deems “very personal.” “Sick ‘N Tired,” a tight funk groove, “Yesterday’s News” and the title track surely acted as catharsis for her youthful angst.
Her set is a mix of hip-hop and ballads, with a stellar finale of Marvin Gaye’s sex cry “I Want You,” which, in Bryan’s angelic voice, is a slower groove, equal parts soul and jazz. Her stage persona is sexy and playful and, like dad’s, punctuated by a little comedy; no doubt, compliments of Sinbad, who, she says, was “[her] biggest influence. [I have] a lot of his humor . . . his sarcasm!”
Bryan’s solo CD (another great stuffer) is not, however, her first foray into singing. She was a member of a touring gospel group, Press Play, which was founded by The Dream Center, a nonprofit outreach organization near downtown L.A. dedicated to helping inner-residents. Proceeds from their outings went to that organization.
Raised in Calabasas with her mother Meredith, her younger brother Royce and Sinbad, her father had won the “Star Search” competition two years before she was born. She grew up deeply steeped in the business, with dad’s stand-up career, his soul music festivals and movies now looming large in her musical career. Keeping it in the family like her dad (his brother and sister variously managed him), she has her mother to manage and guide her).
About being raised by this particular man, she laughs as she recalls the family joke that if he hadn’t been a comedian, Sinbad would have been a Black Panther!
Thankfully, Sinbad, looking much younger (and leaner) than his 54 years and sporting a close-cropped hair style (no longer carrot top in color), remains one of the funniest, silliest, cleanest, most quick-witted comics—of any race—the kind you’d want as your tall, big brother. Despite the fact that audience is predominantly White, everybody’s cracking up—some Whites harder and louder than the Blacks.
But that’s perfectly understandable: Sinbad’s material, which addresses President Obama, marriage and traffic, is, after all, baby-boomer focused; not (seriously) down-putting; somewhere between PG13 and R-rated (“Drivers give you the finger . . . like they can fight. . .!”); race-less (for the most part); and, therefore, easily digestible by all.
When asked an audience member what his next ventures are, he first explains that reality television’s kinda killed the kinds of comedy shows [that he used to be on], then adds, “. . . and Denzel keeps getting my parts!” And in a funny schtick with the women in the crowd, of whom he inquires, ‘What do you really want,’ for every complaint women in the audience voice,’ he’s quickly able to turn the reply on its head so that it ends up being a pro-male rejoinder. Replying to a woman’s complaint that her husband drops his dirty clothes drawers anywhere and everywhere in their house, Sinbad’s solution: “Put the hamper between the couch and the front door”—i.e., the two spots he can most easily deposit his dirty laundry. His remedy for men who won’t put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher or wash their own dishes: ‘That’s your fault: Use paper plates.”
His remedy for us: Don’t miss him the next time he’s in town.