By Kayla Sosa | photography by two Eagles Marcus
When Dany Redwine did stand up comedy for the first time, it was something she needed to do. Once she was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago, she took a look at her life and felt an urgency to do something she had saved for her bucket list: comedy.
“I grew up in a comedic family,” Redwine said. “We loved all the greats like everyone else, and we watched all the comedic family shows growing up, so I was endeared to comedy.”
In 2012, Redwine said one of the most talked about comedy venues in Grand Rapids was the Sunday Night Funnies at Mulligan’s Pub. So that’s where she went.
“It felt like something I needed to do,” she said. “I guess it felt like time was ticking.”
Redwine went on stage for the first time with three to four minutes of jokes on paper in her hand and left with a standing ovation. She said she’s been hooked ever since.
“I was like, ‘This is it,’” she expressed. “I’m going to do this, even if I’m doing it just to get me through the treatment— to laugh. Not only laugh for myself, but to make other people laugh.”
And it turns out, Redwine did need the comedy to get her through that time. Not only was she battling cancer, but she was in the midst of a divorce while parenting three children.
“Comedy kind of saved my life at that time,” she said. “Because I could have cracked. I had a lot of things on my shoulders that a lot of women can’t really handle at once. It’s a lot to take on.”
Today, Redwine is cancer free and still making people laugh. She jokes about getting cancer, dating after divorce, raising teenagers, her name, and so much more. As a comedian, Redwine said she’s “all over the place.”
“I’ve done it all,” she said. “I’ve done the raunchy stuff, I’ve done the clean stuff, I’ve done diverse crowds, I’ve done all white crowds, I’ve done all black crowds…I am more comfortable in a diverse room because I feel like I’m more relatable.”
While Redwine can handle any audience she’s in front of, being a black women in comedy has not made it any easier.
“We don’t get the respect that we should get,” she said. “It’s a male-dominated field. There are people that don’t know you personally and turn around things that you’ve said… and that goes like wildfire. They don’t really allow you to showcase who you actually are, a lot of times they want to ridicule you because they don’t want to find you funny.”
Redwine said this is an issue many female comics face in the industry, and it’s something she’s had to rise above and ignore.
“The good thing about being a black female comedian is that a lot of people are happy to see us,” she smiled. “We get up on stage and the audience is like, ‘Yes! A woman!’”
Looking to the future, Redwine hopes to have more personal relationships with female comics in the area. She also said she would like to do more paid shows in Grand Rapids.
“I could probably count on one hand how many places have paid me to do comedy in Grand Rapids,” she said. “It’s just not a thing here.”
She does get booked a lot out of town, though, and recently toured nationally with a headliner from Detroit.
No matter what life throws her way, Redwine said audiences can count on her to be on stage.
“I’m definitely going to be around for a while,” she said. “It’s my outlet, it’s my everything, pretty much. It keeps me going.”
You can find Redwine every Sunday night at Mulligan’s for her open mic night that she hosts called “Make it Spicy.” Doors open at 8 pm and the show starts at 8:30 pm.
To see Redwine’s upcoming shows and performances, follow her on Facebook at Dany Lyn Redwine or on Instagram and Twitter at @Dany_Redwine.