I have never met anyone who likes to talk as much as Sampson; thankfully he always has something interesting to say. I met Sampson two years ago when we were both performing in a gay-themed comedy show in San Francisco. Sampson is a force of nature onstage, funny but meaningful, poised but goofy, political but personal. He is warm, intelligent, and breathtakingly beautiful. It’s intimidating to attempt to do justice to this man. Sampson and I are the same age, but he’s been doing standup eleven years longer. I hope to be half the comic Sampson is in eleven years. Sampson has no day job; he makes his living solely as a performer. Most comics never get to this level. Sampson got here despite fifteen years of being told he was too gay, too black, not gay enough, not black enough. He’s been turned down by countless agents, managers, and bookers because of his material’s “subject matter.” That’s always code for gay, black, or both.
When Sampson relates his comedy war stories to me on long drives, he is not bitter or angry. He has every right to be, but he is a realist. He knows the world was not designed for gay men of color, but he refuses to take “no” for an answer anyway. He knows his sexual orientation and race have made it harder to succeed in this business. But his hustle, determination, and enviable talent have made him a success anyway. He turns racism and homophobia into hilarious and poignant stories onstage. He calls out homophobes- and shakes their worldview- by saying they’re gay if they laughed at his jokes. He relishes confrontation and honesty in a world that encourages him to be quiet and closeted.
So why comedy? Why spend all day submitting to comedy clubs and colleges, on long plane rides, long drives, sleeping in strange hotel rooms away from his partner? “It’s not something that I thought that I would have to do, to survive, but that’s what it’s come to. I’ve tried to quit, but I can’t. If I go too long without being on stage, I get really depressed. I think that I went and did it and found my light and my purpose and that’s why.” Sampson has recently begun discussing his struggles with depression onstage. Just a few weeks shy of 30, he’s maturing, and his standup is maturing with him, growing darker and more vulnerable. We are so excited to showcase this incredible talent on Wear Your Voice. See when he’ll be in your city at www.sampsoncomedy.com/
Currently, Sampson is working on “A Tough Act To Follow” is a documentary film that follows some of the experiences of Sampson navigating the comedy business as an openly gay man. In an email, Sampson said, “I wanted to create the film, because I feel like its a narrative that is not often heard, and that it’s a more than appropriate time to contribute to the larger conversation about diversity in media and entertainment.” The film focuses on the homophobia, sexism and sometimes racism and other challenges that affect the level of visibility of diversity in comedy houses, television and on stages across the country. The film will be playing at film festivals around the country starting in the Spring and Summer of 2016, and eventually, make its way to Netflix. The film is produced by Sampson and Todd Clark (Emmy Award Winning Producer, The DC Place) and features a notable television, film and stage stars that include Sinbad (A Different World, Houseguest), Luenell (Borat, American Hustle), Darryl Stephens (Noah’s Arc, Boy Culture), Adele Givens (Def Comedy Jam, Queens of Comedy), and a soundtrack provided by LGBT hip hop artists Bry’Nt, Kaoz, Tim’m West, Nhojj and folk singer Toshi Reagon. Check out the trailer below.