Papa Weeze shows off unique mission statement by combining fashion and stand-up comedy

Jun 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm
On June13, new production company Papa Weeze will be holding an event that combines two seemingly mismatched art forms: fashion and stand-up comedy.

Stand-Up Fashion’s unlikely combination may draw some ire from skeptics, but Papa Weeze founder Barbie Weisserman is used to taking risks. Weisserman, a long time theater professional who named the company after her late father, believes that bringing together artistic collaboration of all types is what makes her company unique.

“The one thing with theater that I didn’t see highlighted enough was that any form of art has to have a collaboration of many different artists for it to be pulled together. For instance, in theater, you need a set designer, costume designer, hair, makeup; those are all forms of art,” said Weisserman. “And with all these different forms, I love to collaborate. I love when you can get a bunch of artists in a room and come up with a product and everybody can just let it be, have the round table discussion and let it evolve into what it’s going to become.”

Weisserman found her own creative collaborator in Deborah Pearl, award winning actress, singer, writer, and producer. Weisserman said that Pearl stayed with her for several weeks while putting on the musical At the Bistro Garden. The two hit it off and agreed that they wanted to continue working together, founding Papa Weeze with a mission statement centered on bringing local artists together.

As a company founded on converging different artists and art forms, Stand-Up Fashion’s innovative collaborative nature comes as no surprise. But the show also highlights another of Papa Weeze’s goals: to showcase Detroit’s undiscovered talent.

“When (director) Jules Aaron and Deborah Pearl and David Cole were here for The Bistro and they were doing the audition, they looked at us and said, wow, you’ve got talent in Detroit. And they were surprised,” said Weisserman. “So that’s got to stop.”

Weisserman set out to use Papa Weeze to promote both recognized and up-and-coming artists in the area, providing mentorship opportunities and exposure for members of Detroit’s art scene. Fitting this theme, Stand-Up Fashion’s designs are all submitted from local designers and fashion students, who will send models down the runway alongside Allie Shapiro, a Second City comedian and Farmington Hills native. The event will also have a gallery lobby displaying the works of Metro-Detroit artists, and serve food and wine from local restaurants.

The money Papa Weeze makes from events like Stand Up-Fashion goes right back into promoting the Detroit art scene. Each year, Papa Weeze plans to use the revenue gained in these smaller events from toward a larger project in the summer which will bring fresh exposure to its artists. This year, Papa Weeze’s big project is Getting Ed Laid, a comedic film starring Emmy Award winning actor Ed Asner. Filming will take place in August in Los Angeles, where Weisserman will be bringing along her local design team to network and gain experience. Weisserman hopes next year’s project will be even more locally centered, aiming to produce two Detroit focused documentaries, to hopefully be in the works by fall of 2016.

For now, the artists at Papa Weeze are excited to show their unique talents at Stand-Up Fashion, but they know that it’s just a step toward a loftier goal, as they continue to work toward gaining national attention for themselves and for their city. Combining these styles and fresh perspectives, Weisserman and the board of Papa Weeze have discovered that the Detroit arts scene has something to say. And they’re going to get the world to listen.

Stand-Up Fashion will be held on June 13 at 31440 Northwestern Hwy., Farmington Hills. Tickets are on sale now for $25 at

Madison Dettlinger is a summer editorial intern for Detroit Metro Times