When Marilyn "Platinum" Franklin tells people that she isn't having more fun as a blonde, it's just part of her act. She quips that she defies the stereotype about blondes because she has black roots.
The Hyattsville comedian and actress may not have discovered extra amusement immediately upon changing her hair color four years ago, but now that she is pursuing her calling in the local Christian entertainment arena, Franklin is having plenty of fun.
She will perform a one-woman play, "Naomi's Story," on Saturday in College Park. Adapted from the Bible by Benny Pope, one of Franklin's fellow congregants at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, the play tells the story of Naomi, a woman who struggled through hard times after her husband died. Franklin turned the play into what she describes as a comedy-drama by adding lighthearted scenes and modern language.
At one point in the show, Franklin tells her audience about a conversation between Naomi's also-widowed daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, who are conflicted about accompanying Naomi on her journey back to her homeland.
" 'You better get to steppin' before you get the beat down, because I'm going with Mama,' Ruth says. Orpah replies, 'No, that ain't your mama. You better stop the drama.' "
Franklin said her comic touches are intended to help the audience connect with the biblical tale. As in her work as a comedian, she uses dramatic comedy as ministry.
Franklin, 44, said that she received a higher calling to entertain people through Christian comedy about 21/2 years ago. She had been dabbling in acting in local churches and small theaters for a couple of years when she began reading up on stand-up comedy and performing for friends and family and at talent shows.
"I always knew in my heart I wanted to act, but I guess I never really tried doing it," said the native Washingtonian, a program analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency.
She distinguishes herself from other Christian entertainers, saying that she always integrates scripture into her acts.
"A Christian comedian should be able to incorporate the word of God. We should be different other than just taking out foul language or the sex in our comedy. I believe in some way we need to incorporate an inspirational message," she said. As a child growing up in Southeast Washington, Franklin would sing and dance for her mother's friends. She remembers making them laugh, too, although not intentionally.
Similarly, at her church a few years ago, when she was giving a testimony to the congregation about hard times she was going through at her job, everyone was laughing. People told her afterward that they knew she was being serious, but that how she was expressing her problems was humorous.
From their reaction, Franklin realized that she had a way about her that made others laugh, even if she had a serious message.
Now she actually tries to elicit chuckles from her audiences, with jokes that pair popular culture and the Bible.
"You meet some interesting people in the airport," begins one of her regular jokes. She tells the crowd that a handsome man at the airport was staring at her for a while. He finally came up to her and told her that he didn't mean to stare but was just admiring her hair.
"You wouldn't happen to be Eve," the man said to her, referring to the platinum-haired hip-hop star.
She says she looked at him and answered, "Only if your name is Adam."
Franklin performs "Naomi's Story" from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Nyumburu Cultural Center, Building No. 232, University of Maryland, College Park. Tickets are $10. For information, call 301-314-7759.