Democracy Dies in Darkness

Express

Comedian Asia Martin dreams up a perfect D.C. day with soul food, cookies and Eastern Market

July 18, 2018 at 10:23 PM

In D.C. Dream Day, we ask our favorite people in the area to tell us how they would spend a perfect day in the District. See previous dream days from Mayor Muriel Bowser, BYT’s Svetlana Legetic, Story District’s Amy Saidman and more.

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District native Asia Martin thought she knew D.C. audiences pretty well. But the comedian has found herself surprised by some crowd reactions while she’s been performing in the sketch show “Generation Gap” at the Kennedy Center this summer. “Audiences here are way more conservative than I thought,” says Martin, 24, who lives in Chicago and is a member of The Second City, which produced the show. “Whenever we mention anything about politics, people go, ‘Ooh, no.’ … When people grunt like that, it just makes me laugh.” Martin conceived of the show, which runs through Aug. 12, as a way to poke at the differences between age brackets, using sketches about Tinder, rotary phones and Cardi B to help audiences of all ages laugh at themselves. When she’s not onstage, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts alum is spending time getting reacquainted with her hometown.

A perfect day for me would start at my grandmother’s house in Capitol Heights, Md. There’s a to-go place around there called Keith & Sons Soul Food Cafe, and they have an amazing breakfast. It’s like waffles, bacon and yummy breakfast stuff. The amount of butter they use is insane, and that’s exactly why I like it.

I would have already gotten tickets to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and would spend like five hours there. After I got my entire life from that museum, I would walk down to the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. I would just sit by that fountain and try to write some poems.

I would go to Eastern Market and get a crabcake sandwich. It’s delicious. I’m gonna dream that gentrification has not hit the city so hard: Before they built the Trader Joe’s, there used to be a parking lot over there where they sold handmade jewelry and purses and clothes. I think it was a different area [from the weekend market]. I would go there with my grandmother and we would get earrings or a purse or handmade goods.

I would go to a cookout at Fort Dupont Park in Southeast. A bunch of my family and friends would be there and we’d do the Electric Slide, and I’d have barbecue sauce on my fingers. It’s gonna sound bad, but I usually don’t bring anything to the cookout. I bring my appetite and myself: Those are the gifts that I bear.

After that, I would go to Duke Ellington School of the Arts and give inspiring advice to the students. I’d tell them that not all black theater is tears and trauma: There is such a thing as satire that you can use to get a message out. When I was growing up, I always wanted to perform and I thought theater was the way. It was so draining because most of the plays that are written about black people are about black pain. So I’d tell them all the things I wish I knew when I was there.

Then I’d get an Oreo cookie from Wisey’s. It’s so good: It’s an Oreo baked inside a chocolate chip cookie. When I used to get out of school, I’d walk down to Wisey’s and get a cookie.

After that, I would have a big family dinner. It would look pretty similar to my 16th birthday — it was at this [now-shuttered] restaurant on the waterfront in Southwest called Phillips Seafood, and they had an all-you-can-eat buffet of seafood. We’d eat as much crab, shrimp and ice cream as we could.


Lori McCue is the arts and food editor at DCist. Previously, she was a features editor at Express.

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