Kingston is a mosaic of many people. Our city is more than just a tourist destination to pass through and gab about elsewhere — it’s a rich web of personalities and experiences ranging from the wild and crazy to the austere and reflective. Faces of Kingston is an ongoing attempt to get to know some of the people in our midst just a little bit better, with the goal of bringing us all a little closer, creating empathy and promoting understanding.
This week we are going to meet Ejay Bell, a chill person who is a 28-year-old local comedian with a very sharp wit on stage, not to mention a big heart that holds a lot of love for the community.
Morgan Y. Evans: How long have you lived in the Kingston area? Did you grow up here? What’s your earliest memory of Kingston?
Bell: I’ve lived in Kingston for about going on six years. I was not born in Kingston, I was born in South Carolina. I believe my earliest memory of Kingston was the first time I got on stage and I felt welcomed.
How did you get into comedy? What do you love most about it? Who inspired you?
I got into comedy by simply walking up on stage at The Anchor in Kingston, trying to find my purpose in life. My friend Esther Joy just said I should really try my hand at being a stand-up comedian. One thing really led to another and I’ve been doing it ever since. I’m inspired by my friends Iris, Sally, Ryan, Nick, Elijah and Paddy. They are people who have made me a better person and also a better comedian. They truly are the best part of me.
What is the most inspiring part of interacting with a live audience for you? How do you win the crowd over? I mean, you are pretty damn funny so that is in your favor, haha.
The most inspiring thing about interacting with a live crowd is being able to simply connect with them. Being able to help them laugh away any stress they may have at that time. It’s inspiring to have people come up to me and tell me I did a wonderful job or quote one of my jokes back to me! I love when I run into people who know my work and it is quoted back to me word for word.
Wow, that has to be a good feeling. I believe it though because some of your jokes are really funny and I kept laughing about for awhile afterwards. So tell me, on another note … what do you enjoy about Kington these days? This could be as general or specific as you would like.
These days I truly enjoy the people of Kingston. More than anything because they always seem to keep the city alive. It’s a simple pleasure to enjoy being in this town and feeling like it’s a home for me.
What is a current social issue that is important to you? It seems like there are a lot of issues to choose from these days since the world is a mess, but is there anything within our own community that you would like to highlight or within society in general that strikes a chord with you?
Mental health in the black community is something that is an issue that I am concerned with and I’m hoping I can find a way to help. For too long it’s been taboo in the black community to speak out about mental health and the key components that could help someone truly be better off as a person. From a young age African-American young men are taught that having an issue with your emotions is a very bad thing when that should not be the case. Also simply just not allowing people to be bullied into being something they’re not are things that I really am passionate about and hope can bring some type of change to.
That is a meaningful goal. What things do you think in Kingston could improve or be talked about more? The only way we get there is by not being afraid to look at things, you know?
I feel like Kingston could be more understanding when it comes to the homeless. They have to realize that at some point the homeless weren’t homeless, it’s just unfortunate situations that led them down that path. Possibly making things more comfortable for the homeless would make the town a better place.
What are some of your favorite places around to perform at or even just hang out or eat or whatever? We have a lot of cool options in this city these days so I am curious what you are into.
I will say that one of my favorite places in town to eat and also perform at has to be Tony’s Pizzeria because it’s a place where I can meet up with fellow comedians and truly enjoy a meal and work on my craft at the same time. Also Keegan Ales was a place that’s amazing to perform and has great food.