Comedian Meshelle wants to keep Baltimore laughing.
And next month she and fellow comedians will celebrate the one-year anniversary of "Pass the Mic Comedy Night Hosted by Meshelle" at Milton's Grill.
Meshelle, who is known as "The Indie Mom of Comedy," is using her 10 years of networking on the comic scene to bring national and local talent to the stage.
The show gives budding comedians 10-minute "guest spots" to test out their material on an audience who's already been warmed up by comedy veterans.
"[The show] affords funny comics who may not get the chance to perform in the mainstream clubs a venue for working through new material and perfecting their standard set while entertaining others," says Meshelle, whose full name is Meshelle Foreman Shields.
The comedy shows take place the first Wednesday of each month.
On a typical night, club patrons can enjoy comics such as Stacey Carver, a Maryland-bred gospel comedian from BET's Comic View, and Baltimore's Larry Lancaster, also of Comic View and In Living Color.
Other performers have included Chicago native Rodney Perry, who was featured in the movie Johnson Family Vacation and performed on HBO's Def Comedy Jam and TV One's Who's Got Jokes; Virginia native Erin Jackson, seen on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham; and Baltimore native Reggie Carroll, known for his role on the sitcom The Parkers.
"Pass the Mic" is a way for the African-American community to support black entertainers while supporting the black enterprise owned by brothers Corey Barnes and Shawn Peterson, both of West Baltimore.
Milton's is a Southern-style ribs and seafood restaurant on North Charles Street in the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood.
"Some people steer clear from comedy clubs for fear of being heckled by the performers, and here none of that happens. People just have a lot of fun with it," says Kris Gobeil, Milton's service and bar manager.
Meshelle began the once-a-month night of laughter at Milton's a year ago.
She had just returned home after touring the country and competing for Nickelodeon's 2007 title of "Funniest Mom in America."
She was approached by the owners of Milton's, who were looking to add comedy to their menu of entertainment.
When not doing the local show, Meshelle is busy traveling the comedy circuit in Washington, New York and Chicago.
In April, comedy star Martin Lawrence hand-picked some of Milton's performers -- Meshelle and comedian Eddie Bryant -- to appear in the third season of Starz Entertainment's comedy series Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-up, on cable in July.
"Pass the Mic Comedy Night" takes place at 8 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at Milton's Grill, 336 N. Charles St. No cover charge; two-item minimum. Call 443-220-0180 or go to miltonsbaltimore.com. This Wednesday, Queen Aishah performs. She is a three-time Apollo Comedy TKO winner. She has worked with comedians Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer, among others. On July 2, Tony Woods goes on stage. He has performed in various shows and tours for Comedy Central.
Meshelle Foreman Shields
1994 graduate of Bowie State University. She is currently on a leave of absence from her doctoral studies at Temple University's School Psychology Program.
Husband LaMarr Darnell Shields, author and president/youth advocate of the Urban Leadership Institute; three children.
Current local job:
Host of "Pass the Mic Comedy Night" at Milton's Grill.
Appeared on BET's Comic View, Teen Summit and Heart & Soul and ABC's Philly After Midnight. In 2005, she showcased a one-woman show, Nervosis, at Washington's H Street Playhouse.
Meshelle does a stint every Friday morning on Baltimore radio station WERQ-FM, 92Q. She spoofs VH-1's "Best Week Ever" with "Piper: The Phat-est Week Ever." She debuts her three-woman show, Divercity ... 3 Women, 3 Worlds, 1 Stage, at the Baltimore Museum of Art at 8 p.m. Saturday, before it goes on tour. Others in the show are Sherry Davey of Nickelodeon's Search for the Funniest Mom and Comedy Central's Tough Crowd and Sara Contreras of Showtime's Latin Divas of Comedy.