After a successful first season, Rodney Perry’s “Off the Chain” is back with more laughs, and a bigger and better stage of talented comedians that are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. After months of scouring the country, the Bounce TV team is bringing in some of the hottest talent to hit the stage with gut-busting jokes.
A former co-host of “The Mo’Nique Show” on BET and TV One’s “You Got Jokes,” Perry has worked with some the best comedians in the game, including Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and George Lopez. This year, the industry vet will earn a producer credit for playing an integral part in taking the show to the next level. He looks forward to introducing more female talent, such as funnywoman Vanessa Fraction, and promises that there will be plenty of surprises to keep the audience on their toes. “You never know what’s going to happen in each show, and that in itself is what makes our show different than any other stand-up show,” Perry says.
How is the new season of “Off the Chain” different from the first season?
The first season I had all of these lofty ideas that I wanted to do. When I went to the producers this season they came back to me and said now we can do a lot of those things that you wanted to do. Bounce TV is growing, the show is growing in popularity, and we have the money to do some stuff that we didn’t have last year. One of the things you’re going to notice is that the stage is incredible. From one year to the next it’s like 100 times better than it was. We also went around the country and got all brand new comedians. There are no comics that have ever done the show before. We didn’t repeat any comedians.
What do you think makes Atlanta a great hub for talent?
The Atlanta audience keeps it so real. You can be dealing with a professional, somebody that’s a part of a Fortune 500 company or you could have a stripper who’s also a part of a Fortune 500 company. The audience is so diverse, but it’s still us on so many levels. You have the best of the white collar people, you have the best of the blue collar people, and you have the best of the hood, so if you can make it in Atlanta you can feasibly go anywhere in this country. When I was coming up you would start in your respective city and then transition to LA or NY. Now with the television and film industry coming here this is becoming a place to start and a great place to end up.
With so many emerging comedians on social media platforms, how do you plan to keep “Off the Chain” relevant?
YouTube and Vimeo, that stuff is brand new. TV is not going away, but what we have to think about when we’re producing television is that people want stuff now and they want it quickly. What we did with our show was cut down the sets. We used to have over seven minute sets, now our comics are only doing five-minute sets and then we beef up the show by doing a lot of sketches. We really gave the comedians that perform on this particular season the chance to shine on many different levels. You might see a comedian in a sketch, you might see him actually perform and you might see him do an improv at the end of the show.
There’s been a lot of buzz on the Internet about “SNL” hiring comedienne Sasheer Zamata and two black writers after years of lacking diversity on the show. What does that mean for the next generation of black comedians?
This is the reality. As a black person and person in the producing and creating business, black people always work hard to have a white character. Our white counterparts never have to do that. It’s interesting to see SNL actually have to accommodate for us. It’s less remarkable that we have black writers and black actors because black people are talented, it’s more remarkable that black people stood up and said I think you should have us on your show.
What would you say is the future of comedy?
With comedy you can’t reinvent the wheel. People like ‘Dormtainment’ who are creating videos for the Internet and KingBach, they’re going to be your future producers. They’re going to be the guys creating television content. Those guys are your future Robert Townsend’s, Tyler Perry’s, and Rainforest Films. If you got somebody on the Internet that you really like, know that they are probably going to be the future of television and film.
What’s the key to longevity in the business?
Being cool and being easy to work with. A lot of times people work with individuals that they want to work with. That’s the secret for me and don’t quit. My advice to young comics is to don’t quit because you’ll eventually find your way to the top or at the very least get a chance. All we all want is a chance.
You’re hosting a comedy show and you get to bring up any three comedians. Who would you pick and why?
Bernie Mac – Because I never got to really hang out or spend time with him. I’d love to just spend a day and just kick it with him and pick his brain and get his knowledge.
Robin Harris – I’ve always been a fan and I draw comparisons to him.
Katt Williams – I’ve watched this guy go to the top and then go down in the eyes of the collective conscious and so I’d like to have him come on my show and that be the thing that shoots him to the company.
“Off the Chain: airs Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 9 p.m. EST on Bounce TV.