“Pocket Power TV” allows area youths to pack a strong artistic punch

“Pocket Power TV” allows area youths to pack a strong artistic punch
By DEON HAMPTON World Staff Writer

The sketch comedy variety show is similar to Saturday Night Live and MADtv. Pocket Power TV airs at 6 p.m. Sundays on Cox, cable channel 70.”The show is laugh relief and helps divert attention from the War in Iraq and other universal problems,” said Lester Shaw, founder of A Pocket Full of Hope.

Pocket Power is a division of Hope, a north Tulsa-based organization known for building character among youths through music, theater production and dance. The 30-minute program is an added twist for Hope, and features three local teenagers who play many characters and roles. Other youths associated with the organization are used as extras.Actors said the show benefits them and allows thinking outside the box. “It gives me the opportunity to express myself creatively,” said John Martin, 18, who has goals of becoming a well-known entertainer. Martin said turning into a washed up, old music artist attempting a comeback is his favorite skit.

“When I first moved to Tulsa, I didn’t have any friends, and I didn’t like going to school, but I met Lester and he allowed me to express myself artistically,” said Daniel Rogers, 19. “Pocket Power TV” is an outlet for people to focus their energy, he said. Posing as a waiter and placing the wrong menu orders for diners is Rogers’ preferred sketch. “When the manager is summoned (about the poor service), he’s just as bad,” Rogers said.

Bryan Waid likes scenarios combining music videos and pirates. “All I want to do is act,” said Waid, 19. Eleven episodes of the three dressing up in wigs and multiple outfits have aired, with at least 25 more to come, Martin said. The shows are taped at a restaurant, school auditorium and on the property of a north Tulsa home. A contracted videographer shoots and edits the shows before airing.

Now in its seventh year as a nonprofit organization, Hope, offers free activities for youths. The organization also teaches participants how to be progressive and take ownership, Shaw said. The home has two computer rooms equipped with 13 computers, which are Internet accessible. There is also a salon where makeup is provided for performers, and a room for news broadcasts and videogames.

Plays have included “Life is a Struggle,” which took first place in the 2005 Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Conference. A production for preteens. “Slick Kidnapper,” teaches children how to avoid abduction, Shaw said. Shaw said anyone can join Hope, with one requirement. “The first time they come, they have to sit and observe,” Shaw said.

More than 75 youths are enrolled in Hope, though sports and summer jobs have limited the group to 45 core members, Shaw said. Shaw said he first thought of the nonprofit from his school experiences growing up. Teachers taught him many things, but he never had an opportunity to conduct practical experience, something he wants Hope to do, he said.