You probably know him best as the likable contributor on VH1’s I Love… series of shows. Or you may know him from his other various works on television, commercials, or movies. He’s Godfrey and his stand-up special Black By Accident comes out on DVD Tuesday. We recently had the pleasure to talk with him about all those things along with how he was the warm up comic for Bill Cosby, his friendship with Gerard Butler, and even his thoughts on Twitter. We can confirm that he is as nice in real life as he is on TV; just don’t try to heckle him when he’s on stage.
First off, while prepping for this interview, a common thread was that you’re the nicest guy and you have this energy about you. I was wondering where you get that energy from?
You know, the energy I think I was just born with. You mean energetic as far as on stage or just in general? (Laughs)
I think I was just always like that as I kid; I was always real energetic. Okay, here’s an example; like I was so energetic that my mother wanted me to take piano lessons and I was too energetic for it so she put me in baseball. So I got into sports cause my mother was like “your energy is for something else.” So I’ve always been like that in comedy. It’s like the perfect thing for the type of energy I have, you know?
Do you think its effected you negatively at all? ‘Cause a lot of comedians are mean and angry and sad all the time.
I think that sometimes I’ve been a little too nice. I think you have to have a balance. When you’re too nice people take you for granted, they take you for a fool I think. I have some friends that are mean, they’re just mean. They know how to draw boundaries and stuff like that, but me being so nice, I never learned to draw boundaries so that kind of affected me business-wise.
In general I believe in treating everybody nicely. I just think everybody doesn’t have to be an asshole. I just don’t understand why, because everybody wants to make it so badly when it comes to the fame and money, everybody turns to shit. I believe you can actually make money and be cool. You know, guys like Tom Hanks and George Clooney and Will Ferrell. These guys are actually cool dudes. They didn’t let this so-called business myth turn them into assholes.
It seems you’ve done very well against hecklers. I’ve seen some of those Youtube videos.
I put it up there just so people could see just a different side of comedy because that’s the reality of comedy is hecklers. And we always see, you know everybody wants to put up the perfect video and I’m like first of all comedy’s not perfect, for one thing. Even if you get a joke right you’ve done it a thousand times and sometimes there’s times where it just doesn’t work or someone doesn’t agree with you. And I want to show that. I have had more hecklers because that’s part of comedy is arguments, you know?
How often do you have to deal with a heckler?
I would say, as far as heckling, there’s benign and there’s malignant; like tumors man. Sometimes you get really nice hecklers. I’d say percentage-wise it’s only about 10 to 20 percent the whole year. It’s not all the time because especially at the club I’m at and usually depending upon the comedian you are, you usually have such command of the stage, you don’t usually get that problem if you’re decent. But a lot of times it can either be a drunk person, usually when the person’s drunk it doesn’t even matter. They’re gonna say stuff to you. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. But when I get into really heavy arguments it’s usually somebody that really doesn’t like the subject matter you’re talking about or they just may not like you. But there’s really just no simple explanation because I just feel hecklers should shut the fuck up, personally. Period. If you have an opinion, keep it to yourself. Just don’t laugh. Leave the room. There are exits. That’s why they created exits, man. I mean, leave the room. But some people want attention so bad they want you to see them angry at you. And when they yell out or disturb the audience most of the time the audience can actually be with you on the joke and this person wants to get attention, now you’re arguing with them and then they see that other side of you like, “Hey man! I’m a comedian but I’m not a clown.” I think anybody that protests at a comedy club is too easy. If you have problems and issues, you need to go to the White House and complain to Congress. Don’t come to a comedy club and bitch. That’s too easy.
How could people not like you? It seems like you’re…
You know, it’s not just me. It’s not me, it’s the subject matter. I could be talking about cats and someone who’s a cat owner can go, “Hey man, you shouldn’t talk about cats!” and I’m like, “I bet you if your cat was sitting here he wouldn’t know what the fuck I was talking about.” People will bitch about anything. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even have to necessarily be a serious topic like religion. It could be anything and people will have a problem. I’m telling you! It could be anything. People will bitch because they think comedians know their history when they walk into the room. They think comedians know they have a brother that’s a little overweight; they think we know this. They think you’re supposed to know this. But they don’t understand I don’t know this and I don’t give a shit.
What if I have a brother that’s overweight and he likes my overweight jokes? They think we don’t have lives and don’t have friends. They don’t think we’ve been through tragedies. People don’t think this. They think we’re just the happy-go-lucky-guy up there who’s supposed to solve all their problems. But they don’t understand, we got a lot of problems! That’s why our comedy is funny… I hope I made sense. (laughs)
You do! I actually read Marc Maron’s Just For Laughs keynote the other day. It’s kinda the same thing you’re talking about.
Oh yeah, I’ve seen Maron. Maron’s very political, Maron’s an angry dude and I’ve seen him get into fights, but he has every right to express himself on stage. And he’s gone through a lot of shit. But you know what, he can still make it funny though. He’s a brilliant comic and his podcast is great and its just Marc Maron. But no matter what his attitude is – from Louis C.K. to Chris Rock, guess what? We’re up there making people laugh and we have our own problems, deal with it or leave. Turn the channel!