MAX ZAMBRANO – STAFF WRITER
For nearly three decades, Steve Capers has lived in the world of comedy.
In 1993, he became an executive for Black Entertainment Television (BET), where he helped promote programs such as “Video Soul,” “Teen Summit,” and “Rap City.”
Five years later, he moved from Los Angeles to Chicago to work for Comedy Central. There, he planned comedy events of some of the most well-known comedians of the time, including Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, Ben Stein, Bill Cosby and Sinbad.
Five more years passed before Capers left Comedy Central. After that, he helped run a monthly comedy show in Chicago. In 2009, Knock-Knock Productions asked him to help run a comedy show promoting Black comics.
This festival, the Martha’s Vineyard Comedy Fest, was first held in 2010. By 2017, he was hosting Black Comedy Month as part of the comedy festival, one of the biggest celebrations of Black comedy in the country.
“(It’s) a national campaign that helps us celebrate African American humor,” Capers said.
At 1 p.m. Friday, July 30 on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform, Capers will celebrate Black comedy in this week’s lecture as a part of the African American Heritage House 2021 Lecture Series.
“At the festival, we spotlight many African American comedians, so we just want to be that platform to broaden and give that opportunity to several AfricanAmerican comedians,” he said.
Capers will approach his lecture on CHQ Assembly with the same mentality as he did for Black Comedy Month.
“We want to make people laugh because there’s so many people who need to laugh with all of the turbulent times we’ve been going through, especially this past year with the pandemic,” he said.
Throughout his career, Capers said he found himself having purpose.
“You’d be amazed at how many people have come to me through the years just to say, ‘Thank you. I really needed that laugh, and I wish I could laugh even more,’ ” he said.
Everyone goes through hard times with family, work, or health, but laughter can help improve the situation, he said.
A few weeks ago, a fan emailed Capers and revealed she bought tickets for this year’s festival, but she had just been diagnosed with cancer and could no longer attend. Capers reached out to his friends, who made 30-second videos wishing her a swift recovery and to let her know they were thinking about her.
She wrote back to Capers saying how much she laughed and how much she needed to smile.
“This is the best thing that could ever happen,” Capers said, quoting her.
During his lecture, Capers hopes people learn a little bit about everything.
“I want them to learn how to laugh at themselves and to laugh often, as much as possible, and to look at some of the simple things in life that can make you laugh,” he said. “Whether it’s watching sitcoms on television or watching one of your kids do something silly, always have a sense of humor. That’s the main thing I’d like people to take away with them.”