“Philly is where I died; May 3rd, last year," said Jason Weems. “I was two minutes into my set and I felt a severe asthma attack coming on....I knew it was a bad one. I took my inhaler and it got worse.”
Weems, an stand-up comic, remembers the day he died like it was yesterday. He was just warming up the crowd when he went cold.
“I fell out, turned blue, no heart beat or pulse for five minutes," Weems said, "but by the grace of God there was a doctor in the show, just an audience member who jumped into action and did chest compressions and whatever she could until the medics came.”
The Baltimore comedian woke up 16 hours later in the hospital on a ventilator ready to write.
"I'm sitting there in hand restraints with a tube in my throat and I'm motioning to my wife to get some paper and I start scribbling down all of these ideas," Wees said. ”If I was supposed to be gone, I wouldn't be sitting here right now. For some reason he brought me back.“
Weems went to Dunbar, graduated from Morgan State University and taught kindergarten for 10 years at Leith Walk elementary.
The former teacher turned comic will breathe new life into Baltimore's historic Center Stage Saturday night with a live taping of his comedy stand up special ”Unknown.“
He picked the name because that was on his ID bracelet at the hospital, also for Baltimore because he says Charm City often gets a bad rap.
”There’s more good in Baltimore than bad," Weems said. "People always gravitate toward the negative. ... “When the cameras pan the crowd and you see a crowd full of beautiful people laughing and enjoying a night out, then you'll say, 'oh Baltimore is not just this place that’s on fire; like it's not the Freddie Gray riots all day long, every single day.”
Weems has been making people laugh for 12 years, but when it comes to his city, there's no joking about his love of Baltimore.
"Every city has gone through trouble," Weems said. "Every city has had ups and downs, but we always bounce back. That's the beautiful thing about Baltimore, we always bounce back.”