- 21 & over
- Two item minimum
CHRIS POWELL from HBO
- Ticket Price: $20.00 - $160.00
- Door Time: 7:30 PM
- Show Type: Comedy
21 & over
Two items minimum
Chris Powell jokes that he has a tri-coastal address, if you count the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean.
The rising Detroit comedian spent time in Chicago filming his role as Lil Prince in several episodes of "Empire." The hit Fox drama was his introduction to TV acting.
He's also a regular in Los Angeles, where he's developing an animated series for FX, "Brightmoor,"named for the Detroit neighborhood where he grew up.
It's one of several potential series and film projects that he has in the works with his writing partner, "King of the Hill" veteran Chip Hall.
"They're like in a Pez dispenser," says the actor and producer known in the stand-up world as Comedian CP. " 'Brightmoor' is up now. We're popping it out. Then more are coming."
Powell will be back in Detroit today to headline the Crack 'Em Up Wednesdays comedy show at the Music Hall's Jazz Cafe.
It's his first big show here since the news broke about "Brightmoor." The pilot is being executive produced by Sean (Diddy) Combs through his Revolt Films.
The project is set in Detroit and populated with the students of fictional Brightmoor Elementary. It has been compared to the edgy "South Park" but with the Motor City as its driving force.
Although it still faces the hurdle of winning a spot on FX's schedule, "Brightmoor" is nonetheless a dream long in the making for Powell, who's a cocreator, cowriter and producer.
As a kid watching TV, he got an early lesson in creative control from watching the credits onscreen.
"When the credits rolled, it said executive produced by Dick Wolf. That name always stood out to me. Dick Wolf. It's a funny name. Then I began to see it more and more. I was like, he has every show!," says Powell, riffing on the TV titan behind the "Law & Order" franchise and many other TV shows.
"It's funny now, because I was like, 'I want to be like Dick Wolf. He's making all my favorite stuff happen.' "
The Mumford High School graduate, a longtime comedy fan, was president of his fraternity at Michigan State University and wound up doing a lot of public speaking and hosting large events.
"That really expanded it for me," he says. "It was like, 'OK, I can create for everybody. Not just people my age or my race, but everybody.' "
After college, Powell worked in advertising at the Detroit-based Global Hue agency, whose clients include Fortune 500 companies. About five years ago, he started pursuing stand-up seriously, applying what he'd learned in the business world with his own comedy style.
"When I got to the stage, it was like, the lid was off. All of the knowledge I gained, I was able to pour it out," he says.
As Comedian CP, Powell's profile increased in 2012 through "The CP Show," a monthly event at St. Andrew's Hall that mixed stand-up with filmed bits, much like "The Chappelle Show."
Last year, he auditioned for "Empire," which back then was an unknown factor. "It was the same day that Eminem and Rihanna were at Comerica Park," he says. "I'm like, 'Do I want to audition or go see Rihanna?' We had backstage passes!"
Powell did the audition, eventually winning a recurring role. At the time, he also was in the middle of working on "Brightmoor." He had teamed up with writer-producer Hall, who had e-mailed him and later came to Detroit for a meeting.
According to Hall, he heard about Powell's comedy from a friend he met at the Coachella music festival who happened to be from Detroit.
"I watched CP's stuff (on the Web) and it was like a come-to-Jesus moment, this guy has it," says Hall. "A lot of comedy is one joke or one note and CP brings a depth that I really responded to."
According to Hall, after they collaborated on a live-action pilot that came close to selling, they got an idea for a "Fat Albert"-like cartoon with a contemporary edge and a Detroit setting.
Hall, who's visited the Motor City several times, says he finds it "endlessly fascinating."
"It'll be cool to show the world, 'OK, you've heard enough about the negative things. Well, that's kind of an ignorant point of view of Detroit.' Yeah, it's gone through hard times, but there's a joy there that I think everybody is going to be attracted to."
Powell says "Brightmoor" will be a thoroughly realized setting.
"We took a lot of time and really developed a world. It's not just a couple of characters. It's literally a world. That was important because the star of the show is Detroit. It's character-driven comedy, but it takes place in a real space we know."