Comedic legend George Wallace’s “Be Thinkin’” is serving laughter this Thanksgiving weekend at Atlanta’s premier comedy club, The Punchline. Sin City tried to lay claim to him dubbing him “The New Mr. Vegas,” but Atlanta’s home. Having returned to his roots following a two-week tour overseas entertaining the troops in the South Pacific, this writer eagerly jumped on a long awaited opportunity to sit down with Wallace, who is also a close family friend.
“I always return from these trips, to provide some laughs for our hard working servicemen and women, feeling a renewed sense of gratitude for the country, my family and our hard-fought freedoms. I never forget for one minute how blessed I am and seeing and spending time with our troops makes me feel even more blessed than I may realize day to day. It is particularly special this year that I get to return home to spend the holidays with my family in Atlanta just as I return to the U.S.,” he says in a press statement prior to our meeting at Nordstrom’s Cafe at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead, a mile from where Wallace grew up.
He celebrated his 10th Anniversary headlining at Las Vegas’ Flamingo in March 2014 and surprisingly announced his departure in April 2014 to pursue other opportunities, which includes touring comedy clubs across the country.
Wearing a signature “I Be Thinkin'” newsboy cap, Wallace, a movie and television star and author of Laff If Off, didn’t disappoint. Read what we chatted about.
How do you come up with your jokes?
In Atlanta, if you can’t laugh here, you can’t laugh anywhere. I was telling a friend of mine about the teachers that were changing kid’s grades. Where the hell were they when I went to school here in Lynwood Park? They could have changed my grades and I could have attended Morehouse College or Harvard University. This week I renamed the Falcons the Chick-Fil-A Falcons because they are both closed on Sundays. My job is to pay attention and to look around, if you can’t laugh in Atlanta, you can’t laugh anywhere.
As a kid, I attended Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church and the current pastor is Bishop William L. Sheals. He and I are really good friends. I attended church two Sundays ago, got saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost and then I went home and watched the Falcons and that s*** went out the window. I was cussin’ all day.
I was blessed to attend Stevie Wonder’s concert Saturday night in Atlanta. Oh my God, he was great. He performed from his album Songs in the Key of Life released in 1976; there were a lot of tears. He introduced his inspiration for the song, “Isn’t She Lovely,” his daughter Aisha who now sings backup.
Stevie and I attend the same church in Los Angeles, West Angeles Church of God in Christ. We have fun all the time. He introduced his two young sons on stage. One is about 10 and the other is 12, one is Japanese and one is White. I tweeted and asked should I tell him?
Jokes are easy to come up with when you talk about things that are happening and things that people associate with and relate to.
Comedy comes natural for you…
That’s what I do. What you do is what you do. I couldn’t do what you do. I can’t do that. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not simple. It’s the hardest art form ever being a comedian standing on stage alone. I love it. It’s better than sex and it’s better than drugs. I love what I do and I am the most blessed person in the world to be able to go on stage and talk to people and when I see happy people, it makes me happier. God is so good to me. If I die tomorrow, the world owes me nothing.
What is your take on the Ferguson grand jury decision in the case of unarmed teen Michael Brown Jr. who was killed by a police officer? There is a great deal of outcry and outrage over the decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson.
I’m shaken. I don’t feel good about it. My job is to make people happy. That’s where I come in with what happens in Ferguson. I’m like Martin Luther King Jr., nonviolent, but I kinda’ like it when people get a little upset and tear up things because they don’t listen until something happens. As my dad would say, I am tired of this s*** where it’s always a black kid being killed by mistake. I don’t like it. I think in some of these situations, where the kid came up to Wilson. He could have slapped the hell out of Wilson and Wilson could have slapped the hell out of him and they both could have gone home. Why did he have to shoot and kill the kid? He feared for his life, big deal. That kid had his hands up. It’s always what they thought and they always get away with it. I want the young kids to think, when you start burning down things; don’t burn up your own. They planned that stuff. The police and the firemen moved out of the way for them to burn their town up. Blacks move out, less Blacks, fewer votes. Ferguson is tough right now.
What’s your perspective on the sexual assault allegations against fellow funnyman Bill Cosby that have resurfaced?
He’s a very funny man and people in America loved him. He did a good job at making people happy. We don’t know. The truth is the truth. Wrong is wrong.
How have you managed to keep your image so clean over the years while traveling the world?
Y’all just don’t know [laughs]. I have traveled the world and I have been blessed. I am blessed to be returning from Japan. I work for the Pentagon and traveled to entertain the troops.
For more information on George Wallace, follow him on Twitter @MrGeorgeWallace or visit www.georgewallace.net.