Andy Evans sincerely believes that laughter is the best medicine.
As a counselor at George Mason University for 10 years, Evans concocted a way to mix comedy with his counseling to help broaden the fine line between pain and pleasure. "I found out that people had real problems, and they had to get past the anger to deal with those problems," says Evans. "I discovered that comedy helped them get through those troubled times."
Comedy has also served as a healing tool for Evans, helping him get past his memories of two years in Vietnam. "I didn't hold on to the experience like a number of my friends did because I knew that after the war was over we had to get on with life," he says.
Evans has certainly done that. In 1985, he left his counseling job to take his comedy on the road. Now he performs 10 or 12 times a week, working with such entertainers as Eddie Murphy, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. He's opened for Patti LaBelle. And he recently read for Spike Lee's next movie and was asked to come back for a second reading next month.
But he hasn't forgotten about counseling -- "my way of giving back to the community," he says. He also recently formed his own company, called Minority P.S., to use comedy as a means of counseling. The company specialty is working with minority college students, with sessions on adjusting to the environment and dealing with instructors and advisers.
"Students are very bright these days," he says, sliding into one of his jokes. "You have a lot of students in Mensa, and one day I was invited to a Mensa convention. And they don't take notes or anything at these conventions -- they just walk around saying, 'I know.' "