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How comedian Sylvia Traymore Morrison would spend a perfect day in D.C.

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.

Ask Sylvia Traymore Morrison about her five decades in comedy and she’ll promptly recall tales of hosting a roast of Muhammad Ali in Harlem, entertaining the troops abroad during the Vietnam War, and waiting in line at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles alongside David Letterman, Jay Leno and Robin Williams.

But don’t be fooled by the well-traveled D.C. native’s exploits elsewhere: The comedian, impressionist and author never abandoned her hometown.

“The reason why I actually love the whole D.C. comedy scene is because it’s so competitive,” Morrison says, citing such local luminaries as Dave Chappelle, Martin Lawrence and Wanda Sykes. “I was in LA. I moved back East to New York. I was in Miami. I was in Atlanta. But I always came back to D.C. because it was such a challenge.”

Nowadays, Morrison is tackling a new challenge: Starring in the Andy Evans-written one-woman show “The Return of Jackie Moms Mabley,” which will be performed for the first time Dec. 14 at the Carlyle Room. Audiences can also spot Morrison in Parrish Smith’s upcoming documentary “The Mecca of Comedy,” about the rise of Black comedy in D.C. from the 1980s to today.

On her perfect day in the D.C. area, the Southwest resident does what she does best: find any excuse she can to get onstage and entertain.

My perfect day starts with me waking up, getting dressed and going down to the gym. Then I’d walk a couple of blocks to my favorite McDonald’s to get myself the finest cup of hot coffee that America has to offer. I don’t know why I love McDonald’s coffee so much, especially when there’s a Starbucks right down the street from it. But I love going into McDonald’s. All I do is get a hot cup of coffee, sit there and watch the movement of the city.

I live maybe six blocks from the Capitol, and I see so much wonderful stuff going on with all of the people who march and protest. It’s heartwarming for me. I often think, “How nice would it be if I could be out here on their stage and take their mind off of what’s going on, just momentarily, and give them a few laughs?” So that would be part of my dream day.

For lunch, I would love to head down to Ben’s Chili Bowl. The proprietor Miss Virginia [Ali] always greets me and makes a big deal: “Oh, Sylvia is here! Hi, Sylvia, come on in.” I still love my half-smoke with chili, and she can throw some onions on top of it. After that, I would squeeze in an appearance on one of Cathy Hughes’s radio shows and do a couple of impressions.

If it’s a perfect Sylvia day, I’d have to visit Richard Wright Public Charter Schools and spend at least an hour entertaining the kids, because there’s nothing more rewarding and charming for me than going to a school. Another one of the things that I enjoy most is going to a senior home and performing, so I would head to Washington Seniors Wellness Center and get a few of my favorite comedians from the area to join me: Andy Evans, Tony Woods, Chris Thomas and Robin Montague.

Next, I’d go out for dinner and get crab cakes and spinach at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. I was just there, and the food was so good I wanted to scream. And my dream day would end with me at a club onstage. Sometimes I just go sit and watch the comics, though most of the time they’ll say, “Sylvia Traymore Morrison is in the house. Can we get her to come up and do a few minutes?” I like the DC Improv, and would love to end my dream day by headlining there for a whole packed house.

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