Mike Epps: Method to His Comedic Madness
words by A.R. Shaw
Photography by dewayne rogers for steed media service
Spending the day with Mike Epps is like spending the day with a zany psychoanalyst. While engaging in casual conversation — as he did during this exclusive rolling out photo shoot — Epps has an answer for everything, no matter how outrageous or extreme the resolution appears to be.
Epps’ advice to …
If you want to get rid of a lazy man, stop cooking and giving him sex. He’ll leave. That’s the quickest way to get rid of a lazy man. Stop sexing him and cooking and his a– will get to booking.
If your woman won’t cook, start eating before you get home. And I ain’t talking about food.
Advice on how to control a crazy family member:
If you’re trying to get rid of your drunk uncle when company comes over, you’re going to have to give him some wine money just to get his butt out of there. He probably just wants a cold [bottle of] Thunderbird, so give him a couple of dollars.
Epps, now 41, has struck a perfect balance between stand-up comedy and film. When he’s not touring the country performing at large venues or intimate comedy clubs, he’s working in film and is one of the most sought after black comedians in Hollywood. He has appeared in over 25 movies and will be featured alongside Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks in the highly anticipated remake of Sparkle.
Movies afforded Epps the opportunity to rake in a substantial salary (his estimated net worth is $6 million), but the comedy stage will always be his home. In February, Epps embarks on his three-month long “I’m Still Standing” tour, which will feature dates at Madison Square Garden in New York and Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
His class clown antics and side-splitting assessments on the topics of race, relationships and life in the ‘hood will have audiences laughing for hours.
Fortunately for rolling out, Epps allowed us to delve deeper into the art of “acting a damn fool.”
Take a look at the candor of funnyman Mike Epps.
You’re about to hit the road again. What does it take to prepare for a stand-up tour?
I’m always working throughout the entire year. I’m … working on my next show or my next tour. Before I hit the road, I go to comedy clubs, improvs and do multiple shows. I work on my act, my timing and I make sure all of my jokes are in place.
Why will this be your best stand-up concert thus far?
This is my third stand-up installment. I think I’m more seasoned. I’ve been working on jokes for many, many years. My subject matter, my story, my punch lines and my delivery [are] all better. I’ve been doing it for so long now, it’s time to really show everybody what I’ve been working on for many, many years.
Let’s go back for a minute. At what moment did you realize that you could be successful at stand-up comedy?
Aw man, you know it started back in 1954 … [people were] like man “how old is this Benjamin Button looking motha?” I’m just kidding … it was 1994. I went on “Def Comedy Jam” and had a great set. When I hit the “Def Comedy Jam” scene, it was off the chain. But that was my golden year when things first kicked off.
What’s the hardest part about being funny when you’re having a bad day?
I hit that weed. I smoke a fat blunt. That’s how I do that [laughs]. No, but I get up and give glory to God. I keep everything in perspective and work hard. A lot of people think I’m just going on stage and just freestyling and clowning. No, I’m not. I work on my jokes like everybody who gets up and works on whatever they make a living doing.
You often work with rappers on different projects. How did hip-hop inspire you?
I’m a person that likes hip-hop. I’m from the hip-hop generation, so I definitely grew up in hip-hop. I was one of the first kids to remember the words to all of the early hip-hop songs. So everything I do is dedicated or connected to hip-hop. I feel like my comedy is a derivative of hip-hop with a mixture of a little jazz.
You’ve done songs with rappers such as 2 Chainz and Future. Are you working on a third career as a rapper?
I definitely don’t wanna be a rapper because I make way more money doing what I do. Hell, I’ll be over renting my furniture from Rent-A-Center if I tried to rap. But I got much respect for the guys out there that are rapping, so I wouldn’t disrespect them like that. I just play a little bit. Busta Rhymes and Ludacris are pretty funny in their raps. I can spit a little verse or two. My song with 2 Chainz and Future [“I Hate Myself”] is the last song I’m doing because I’m getting too old for this stuff. When your kids walk up to you and say, “Daddy, don’t rap again,” it’s over player.
How was your life changed by your work in Hollywood?
I’m married to the movies, because it can take you to the next plateau. When talking about it as an art form, it allowed me to show people that I can go in to different characters. Sparkle is a movie that I did, and people are going to see me play a different role than I normally play. I also just got nominated for an NAACP award for Jumping the Broom. So, I’m definitely growing into being a leading man when it comes to film. I want to be an A-list actor. Right now I’m a D-lister [laughs].
You have an opportunity to make movies year-round. Why is it important to go back to stand-up comedy?
Stand-up is my first love. Stand-up is the first art form I fell in love with. That’s the one thing I’ll never leave. Everything else is like my side piece, but stand-up is my main piece because I can depend on it. When all else fails, I can go back to doing my stand up. I’m dedicated and devoted to my stand-up, because I get instant gratification from my fans. When I go out and I see them live, It keeps me grounded. I’m dealing with real people who are all going through the same things.