About Paint Chips
Could ninety minutes on stage change the perception of a black standup comedian and the people in a predominantly white town labeled one of the most racist in America?
In August, 2018, a video clip of comedian Sam Adams performing his “True Color” bit went viral on Facebook, with more than 10 million views in less than 72 hours. The clip attracted a promoter in Harrison, Arkansas, who contacted Adams’ representative to inquire on his availability. The promoter in the town of 13,000 was intrigued and amused by the color bit, in which Adams calls for people to visit a hardware store and use “paint chips” to find their “true” skin tone.
Harrison and its nearby environs are home to members of several hate groups. Having been told of that fact ahead of time, Adams still decided to take the booking. “I was not scared. But I was concerned,” he said. It became Adams’ mantra.
On December 7, 2018, Adams’ concerns trailed him all the way to the entrance of Harrison’s Lyric Theater. Those concerns turned into laughs, as the audience embraced Adams and his clean brand of humor. Adams doubled his contracted stage time, from 45 to 90 minutes, and the evening ended with hand shakes, photos, smiles and hugs.
Adams will return to Harrison in September. What will he say to the audience who comes to Lyric this year? Racism is ongoing, even if for one night 250 people in Harrison proved that it wasn’t. Harrison residents turned out for Adams’ first show looking to prove the town didn’t deserve its reputation. And he found that his worries about being in a town which reportedly shunned anyone with a darker shade of skin were unfounded.
Preconceptions and misconceptions abounded on both sides. In the end, there were no sides. Just people who found more in common than not. It’s a story of hope, in a time when hope is a welcome remedy. For Sam Adams and the residents of Harrison, Arkansas, a new chapter awaits.
Want to “chip in” with your photos from a hardware store visit? Or send a comment to Sam?
Contact Sam Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below.