“Then the world was like, ‘Nah, I think we’re just going to shut everything down,’ ” French says.
When coronavirus concerns froze the entertainment industry in March, French returned to Northern Virginia to see out the pandemic with her family. After a month-long “mourning period,” French decided to make the most of quarantine and take her talents to Zoom.
On Tuesdays, French hosts “#DebatableAF,” a panel show that began as a discussion group about the Netflix series “#BlackAF” but swiftly spun into a forum for discussing just about anything. On Fridays, French can be seen on “French Roast,” a show that asks viewers to volunteer their loves ones for a surprise ribbing. Recently, these projects have become more than a quarantine diversion — as a black bisexual woman with a gay daughter, French has relished the opportunity to direct proceeds to causes aligned with Pride Month and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think we’re in a very special moment in time where people are beginning to understand that this is about all of us — gay, straight, black, white,” French says. “As sad as a lot of [the news] is, and depressing and painful, we’re in this very beautiful place where we’re all seeing each other as human. We are all coming together in love to fight for what’s right.”
Unity is a pervasive theme on French’s ideal day in the D.C. area, as she brings together the local comedy community for picnicking, club-hopping and some late-night snacking.
Every morning, I wake up and drag my daughter out of her room and make her snuggle with me, so this day would definitely start off with some snuggling and some hot tea with Bootsy. Then we would get up and head into the city, go grab my friend Brent Wingate, and have brunch at the Fainting Goat.
After brunch, all of the D.C. comics, all of the comedy club owners and all of our families would gather in Rock Creek Park to have a wonderful afternoon just picnicking with live music — maybe some go-go bands show up, maybe some local radio stations. The comedy community was so divided before the pandemic happened, so me and a bunch of other local comics and producers have been having meetings and talking about what our community should look like when things come back. It should be more inclusive, it should be more loving, and we should be more of a community. I just really want to see that for our city.
Next, I’d take Bootsy home, shower, change and go back to the city and meet friends for an early dinner at Compass Rose, which is one of my favorite places. They have a khachapuri, which is a kind of breadbasket with this delicious cheese and egg mixture in the center, and then they crack a fresh egg in the middle. You just rip the bread and mix it up with this egg yolk and the butter and the cheese, and it’s so decadent.
That evening, I would love if there was some sort of D.C. comedy collective where all of the clubs got together for the reopening of Washington and had a one-night, all-night comedy festival, starting at 8 p.m. and ending around 5 a.m. We’d have to include Comedy Loft of DC at Bier Baron Tavern, Drafthouse Comedy, DC Improv, Dupont Underground and Capital Laughs. Everyone would be having a great time laughing, bouncing from club to club to club, and all of the proceeds would go to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Hamilton is a Saturday night spot for comics because they have half-off sushi there, and that sushi is amazing. They also have an incredible chicken with mumbo sauce, which you typically can’t get at a place like that, but theirs is exquisite — like, “oh my God” incredible. So all of the comics — including Randolph Terrance and Niki Moore, who are some of my best comrades in comedy — would head there as the late, late, late night spot after the festival.