It was winter three years ago when some of us at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder newspaper found ourselves gruesomely down in the dumps and wondering why. Suddenly the obvious dawned on us—too much bad news! We needed to lighten up! As if on cue, up from Texas came the antidote to our blues, a cherubic young woman with dimples and a drawl saying, "Hey, I'm funny and I need some money. Let me write for y'all."
Sheletta Brundidge sent us a few "A Funny Thing Happened" columns, and to our delight funny things did happen in those earthy little yarns leavened with ample heart and soul. We wanted more (the bad news was unrelenting) and suggested a soap opera serial. Sheletta came up with "As the Down Low Brotha Turns," which 100 episodes later keeps demonstrating how inventive storytelling, pitch-perfect dialogue, and comedic brilliance can take the sting from our cultural wounds and help us heal.
Much as I look forward every week to editing Sheletta's work, there is a dicey edge to the job. When I pointed out how often people in her stories get their butts whooped or get smacked upside the head with Big Momma's purse, she hinted that something comparable could be in store for me if I didn't quit hounding her about deadlines. I thought she just might have a bit of her own mama in her, whom she describes as "meaner than a two-headed snake." When I asked how mean a two-headed snake is, she told me I had just earned myself four flat tires.
Sheletta Brundidge is out there everywhere now, and unstoppable. She's widely syndicated with an Emmy-winning blog, "The Funniest Woman in the Twin Cities," at sheletta.com. Her TV show CrossRoads, monologues on Almanac, and regular standup gigs around the metro are earning her growing ranks of friends and fans. When your bad news gets hard to bear, check her out—chances are you haven't experienced such cathartic full-self-disclosure humor since Richard Pryor showed us how he set himself on fire.
Jerry Freeman is senior editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.