During the pandemic, people had to find new and different ways to spend their time. Being outdoors was a great way to safely gather and many found a new love and appreciation for nature. Comedian Donnell Rawlings is one of those people.
Rawlings will travel back to Yellow Springs this Memorial Day weekend to host the first-ever Donnell Land. The holiday weekend will include shows at Wiley’s Comedy Club, a barbecue, kickball, kayaking and a podcast recording.
“I knew that when the world opened back up, this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “Do you remember when you didn’t see kids playing on the playground? You can never recreate the past, but I want to continue the vibe of what we started in Ohio. I want to have a weekend of celebrating with comedy and food.”
When the country shut down in 2020, many people flocked to Dave Chappelle’s comedy shows at the Wirrig Pavillion in Yellow Springs. Rawlings was part of many of those shows, but he said there was always downtime, and they had to do something to pass the time. Eventually, he began venturing out into the wilds of Ohio, even though it did take a little convincing.
“We had a lot of time on our hands,” Rawlings said. “At first, I passed on all that stuff. I’m from the streets; I don’t do that creekey stuff. Black people don’t kayak. But I went on that river, and it seemed everything changed that summer.”
The weekend kicks off with a 7:30 p.m. show at Wiley’s Comedy Club. During the day on Saturday, the second annual Creeks vs. Streets kickball game with coach Rawlings and coach Talib Kweli will take place at 1 p.m. at Gaunt Park in Yellow Springs. And this game is going to be competitive.
“He (Kweli) got mad because the Streets aren’t messing with the Creeks when it comes to kickball,” Rawlings said. “He selected people by their music and lyrics. I was looking at calf muscles and biceps. He said we going to have to break up the Creeks next time.”
Shows are also scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. on Saturday at Wiley’s. “Sunday Funday” is scheduled for May 29 hosted by Rawlings and Angela Lee. However, the details are still being worked out for that event.
On Monday, May 30, there will be the River Run with Rawlings and Birch Bark Canoe Livery in Urbana starting at noon. Those who want to join the River Run can pay $100 for a kayak or $200 for a canoe. The fee will also include a family barbecue and a live recording of “The Donnell Rawlings Show.”
“When you take people from the intercity that can’t swim and put them on a river, the comedy and the connection is amazing,” Rawlings said. “It was in that moment I realized what was important. It’s the simple things.”
Rawlings said he’s missed the outdoor activities, especially seeing people running around having fun with their kids. He’s hoping this won’t be the only Donnell Land. He’s hopeful he can recreate what happened in Yellow Springs during the pandemic in other places.
“We are looking to bottle something up and take it across the country,” he said. “I have a strong feeling about it. I get grounded in Ohio. I walk in the grass with my bare feet. I get connected. When I get anxiety, I know it’s time to get Yellow Springs.”
More information and links to purchase tickets for the comedy shows or the River Run can be found at https://www.donnellrawlings.com/donnell-land.
HOW TO GO
What: Donnell Rawlings
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and 7:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Saturday, May 27 and 28
Where: Wiley’s Comedy Club, 101 Pine St., Dayton
More info: 937-224-5653 or wileyscomedy.com
About the Author