Year in Review 2020

I was tempted to make this little intro to the issue all about the year I’d had. I was gonna drone on and on about my health and the health of the magazine. It was going to be a real whine-fest. But then I gave it some thought. I think we all limped to the finish line of 2020. To make this all about myself would be selfish and let’s be honest, I’m as sick of writing about my health as you are reading about it. So, with me out of the way, we take a look back at this train wreck of a year. 

Amidst all the political fervor and a worldwide pandemic, there have been bright spots. I collected some of them for this Year in Review issue. There was the progress made in the area of housing for aged out youth. In the world of foster care and show business, there was quite a bit of noise. Foster Boy and Ride were major motion pictures with storylines centered around foster care. Monroe Martin, a comedian and foster care alum, was making big noise in the New York comedy scene before the world shut down. Keep an eye out for him when things start to go back to where it was before the virus hit.

An election occurred and nearly ripped the country in half. The results, as it pertains to care, is major changes in policy and leadership. I’ll do my best to keep you in the know. There will certainly be plenty of activity in D.C. to cover. And plenty of new faces focused on foster care at the national level. Again, I will do my best to introduce them all to you. 

I don’t know about you, but I plan on putting 2020 in my rearview mirror. Taking only the good stuff into 2021. 

Though my health has betrayed me, I’m getting stronger and have a new sense of urgency, an eagerness to get myself back to the high levels of enthusiasm that I had a few years ago. As always, you’ll be right there with me through all the peaks and valleys running this magazine brings. Wouldn’t want to do it alone. I’m glad you are here.

For all the bellyaching I do about my health, life isn’t all bad.

On an oddly warm Winter Tuesday night, in the most famous city in the world, I’m about to enjoy one of the perks of being me; an interview with one of my favorite comedians, Monroe Martin III.

We’re standing in front of one of the top comedy clubs in New York City, The Stand. Monroe is fresh off the stage. He’d done Big Jay Oakerson’s popular show “The Worst”, a show in which participants are encouraged to share their worst experiences. Monroe, a former foster kid, shared a memory of a fight he’d had with one of his foster dads. A surely serious event made light by a gifted comedic mind. That’s how he got to this point; one of New York City’s most promising and talented working stand ups. He’s living his dream.

For a bigger fella, Monroe stands about 6’4’’ or better, he moves and carries himself confidently, in a way that makes giant accessible, welcoming even. I’m immediately struck by his likeability. Folks are gathered nearby, hoping for a word with the amiable comic. He’s tells me he’s always been a larger person, even in his teens as he bounced around the Philadelphia area’s many foster homes. And he’s always been friendly, despite some questionable placements.

We bond over our mutual experiences in care and love of comedy. He’s been at it for a long time. Two years after high school was his first time hitting a stage and he hasn’t looked back. Now a veteran comedian with over a decade of experience, he’s a soughtafter act in the city and on the road. Touring is a lifestyle easily adapted to by someone from care.

He tells me about some of his worst placements while in care, though if I’m being honest, I want to hear about his climb from a young Philly open mic-er, to a top young stand up who gets to work his craft up to 12 times a night in a city teeming with comedy clubs.

He got to New York with a whole lot of funny but not a whole lot of substance. It was comedian Keith Robinson, a man who helped another Philly comedian find his way through the clubs of New York, you may have heard of him, Kevin Hart, who would tell Monroe to draw from his life experience for material. The advice worked like a charm. Monroe began to share stories from his time in care. Audiences and critics responded to the new act and a career was born.

Turns out, he had a wealth of stories to share from his time in care, which began at age 7. He entered care with his sister, they were quickly separated and with the exception of a few placements together through out the years, struggled to stay connected. His mother was in and out of his life during his time in care. The time they spent together has been a part of Monroe’s act, playing to big laughs.

If you ask him, he’s lived in nearly every area of Philadelphia and its bordering towns. His knowledge of the city aided him in his early years of comedy. He became a stand out among a group of Philly comics that included Mike Vecchione and (adoptee) Joe DeRosa. He worked the clubs of the city until he felt he was ready to graduate to the Big Apple.

New York City is the epicenter of stand-up comedy. The best of the best test their wares nightly. It’s a city where a comedian can work a dozen times a night throughout the week. With that much exposure, comedians find they are tapped for all kinds of opportunities. Soon, Monroe would find himself a part of high-profile projects like The Last Comic Standing, a prime-time network comedy competition, or tv shows like Master of None on Netflix and The Jim Gaffigan Show. He even landed a part in a movie that starred Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson in 2019.

Likeable, well adjusted, talented and driven, a betting man would put his money on Monroe Martin III to be successful going forward. He’s got a lot of reasons to work his hardest, he’s recently married.

If you ask him, he’d tell you that everything that’s happened to him in his life was meant to happen. It’s brought him to this point. If you ask me, it’s that positive outlook that’s brought him to this point. That positive outlook and his hard work will be what takes him to the next level.

After a great talk in the city that doesn’t sleep, I release Monroe to the gaggle of fans who waited patiently for the chance to interact with the funnyman. What I saw was a man, confident in his skills and his lot in life. In true Monroe Martin III fashion, he made sure to speak to every single person who waited to talk to him. Accessible. Likeable. Confident. Comfortable with who he is.

You’re going to want to see what he does next. You can keep tabs on his career via social media, at @MonroeMartinIII on all platforms. Or check in at his website monroemartincomedy.com I’m grateful to have had the chance to talk with Monroe before COVID turned off the lights of the comedy scene. I’m looking forward to more chances to see him perform as the world tries to get back to normal.