Guest Post: That One Time at The Adele Concert

This is a Guest Post by Tocarra Mallard.
Tocarra came onto my radar when I saw her perform at the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival as part of The Kates (must see comedy in Chicago!) and fell immediately in love with her material, her persona, and her story. Being a quasi talent scout — I’m always looking to stuff my events with the best and the brightest, and folks are always asking me for referrals of speakers, comedians, gynecologists… — I approached her after her set and introduced myself.
Turns out, we had been in the same room together before that evening when she came to one of my Fear Experiment℠ shows (read below on what her attendance netted her; I had no idea! LOVE.). I laughed at the small world’ness and told her I wanted her to be Dish at my Idea Potluck. Fast forward a month’ish, she closed out Idea Potluck 36 to adoring love and fanfare. Fast forward another month’ish, I saw a nonchalant Instagram post from Tocarra, her on stage with Adele.
Of course I asked for details, and uh… wow. Read below. Amazing on so many levels.
If you love Adele, if you love people challenging themselves, if you love second chances, if you love humanity, you will love Tocarra’s story. 
Go out and see her live, she’s a fierce, funny goddess who is going places!

Photo by Jesse Banwart
Photo by Alexandra Waespi

“What are you doing on July 13th?”

That’s the kind of mid-afternoon text that makes me more nervous than excited. For no other reason than I generally don’t like any activity that takes away from my napping and snacking, napping and snacking schedule. But curiosity got the better of me so I sent back a noncommittal,

“Not sure yet, what’s going on?”

When I found out that I could potentially be going to the Adele concert at the United Center, I decided snacks and a few Z’s could wait (this time), and decided to be my friend’s plus one and claim my 7th row seat (Holla!).


HELLO, it’s rain.

The night started off really well. Great company, great food and the melancholy soundtrack that keep the tear ducts working. But then the downpour started and it didn’t stop. By the time we got into the concert venue everyone was soaked. I was irritated, wet and thanks to the industrial strength AC—about to catch pneumonia and die.

The diehard Adele fans put the pep back in my step. The selfies were starting to fire off, everyone was comparing set list notes and anticipating how and where Adele would make her grand entrance.


HELLO, it’s Adele.

Well, the diva made her grand entrance behind us, having all of us facing her mainstage crane our necks to see her sleek bob and glittering gown. She walked down the aisle of seats to the mainstage and the show got started. Although the venue was large she did her best to keep it intimate . . . about the craft and about the audience. Adele had no costume changes, and instead delighted the audience with stories and earnest interaction. During one anecdote, she mentioned that she recently saw “Life of Pets” and stopped to ask a stunned fan who her favorite character was, simply because she nodded her head, acknowledging she had seen it, too. During her show, she mentioned she would bring three aspiring singers on stage to sing. She shared with us that when she was a teenager, about 15 or so, she saw famous neo-soul singer Jill Scott. During that concert, Jill asked if anyone would like to sing and Adele raised her hand but Jill did not select her! Adele saw the excited looks on all the singers that were able to perform and decided that when she became a star, she would allow other aspiring singers to join her on stage, too. . .


HELLO, it’s stage fright.

After she this crowdsourcing project, one of my friends asked if I could sing and I said yes, and his eyebrows raised with excitement. He needed to calm down because I did not want to go up on stage. Although I perform standup, teach and have no problem with public speaking, I was scared. Of how people would perceive my looks, my voice . . . what would happen if I failed. It finally came to the part of the show where she wanted to bring up the aspiring singers. My friends were pointing at me and jumping around trying to get Adele’s attention, while I was hiding behind the tall man in front of me, because I’m classy. Just my luck, Adele spotted me, “the girl with the nice necklace trying to hide” and asked if I could sing. I said, “No”. So she moved on to the hundreds of hands that were in the air. As soon as it happened, I knew I made a big mistake. I love a good story and I missed the opportunity for a great one. Who says “No” to Adele? Who says “No” to making things happen. As we all know, so many wonderful things happen when you get out of your comfort zone. That’s how I met my wonderful boyfriend after a Fear Experiment Show. It’s why I was able to perform at the Chicago’s Women’s Funny Festival and share my love of laughter at Idea Potluck. I cared more about the “what if it goes great” than the “what if this is a TOTAL disaster”.


HELLO, it’s a Second Chance.

I was given another opportunity because the young woman who was supposed to be the third singer just wanted to take a selfie with the Adele. So the great, big voice asked for one more person and I raised my hand, no assistance needed, hoping she would see me. She did! She called me on stage and asked why I said no. I was honest and told her I was nervous, I didn’t want to sing an Adele song in front of Adele. The generous singer told me I could sing whatever I wanted. I was able to sing a song by Jill Scott called “Long Walk”. Adele enjoyed the song and was singing and dancing behind me on stage! She was very nice and even when I forgot to take a selfie, she asked me to come back on stage so we could get a picture. She was so much fun!

And I got my story.

Tocarra Mallard, Comedian + Arts Administrator 

Twitter & Instagram: @TocarraElise 

You can see video of Tocarra and Adele here and here and here (via Michele). Funny story about the first two videos — they were taken by Cheese-It James, one of the original Fear Experimenters, who just happened to see Tocarra perform at Idea Potluck and then just happened to be at the same concert a few weeks later. When he realized who it was, he whipped out the phone and pressed record. Again, the small world’ness. I can’t get enough of it. 

When you find your tribe and you live a Life of Yes, goodness repeatedly falls into your lap…