Rolling Out

Comedian Lil Rel talks upcoming comedy special, ‘RELevent’ and earning Kevin Hart’s stamp of approval


(Photo credit: Kayana Szymczak for Picture Group)

Lil Rel’s introduction to the national comedy scene began with his first appearance on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” which led to a slew of major appearances, including Comedy Central’s “Russell Simmons Presents Stand-Up at The El Rey,” Martin Lawrence’s “1st Amendment” on Starz, and HBO’s “Diddy’s Bad Boys of Comedy.” He’s also made appearances on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” “Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam” and E’s “Chelsea Lately.”

In 2014, Lil Rel appeared on BET’s “Comic View,” FOX’s animated series, “Lucas Bros Moving Co.,” Comedy Central’s “Comedy Underground with Dave Attell,” and the recently renewed truTV sketch show “Friends of the People,” for which he also writes and executive produces. This year, Lil Rel is also set to star alongside Jerrod Carmichael and David Alan Grier in the upcoming NBC comedy series, “The Carmichael Show,” which is set to debut later this fall.

Rolling out recently caught up with Lil Rel to discuss upcoming Comedy Central special, “RELevent,” and being cosigned by one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

How did you get your start in comedy and who inspired you?
I got my start in comedy honestly just by looking in the entertainment section in the Chicago Sun-Times every Friday as a kid. I used to read all the comedy club listings and told myself that once I was old enough I’d hit all of those clubs to see if I had what it takes. My biggest inspirations were Eddie Murphy, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Richard Pryor and Martin Lawrence.

Tell us about the significance of the title of your upcoming stand-up special, “RELevent” and what fans can expect from it?
The name came from my friend and international superstar comedian, Russell Peters. Every time we would talk he would address me as “RELevent” and one day after him calling me that for like the 100th time I was like ‘That sounds dope. I gonna name my special that one day.’ It was a play on words that ended up making sense. But the more I thought about my quiet impact on the game the name made even more sense. People can expect a classic performance from me on this special. I’m hitting y’all with classic bits and a bunch of new stuff happening in my life right now. Storytelling, characters, and that Chi-Town comedy flavor!!!!!

What does it mean to you to have someone of Kevin Hart’s stature cosigning your talent and presenting you in this fashion?
It feels great to have the hottest comedian, actor, producer and all around superstar putting his stamp on it. Kev is a smart businessman and with him presenting the next rising stars in comedy, it’ll keep him in the power position he’s in now. He’s been great to work with so far and I’m just really humbled and honored by what’s happening.

If you can give one piece of advice to an up and coming or aspiring comic, what would it be?
The biggest piece of advice I can give is don’t give up. You have to understand in this comedy game things can happen fast for you or it can take a long time. No matter which situation it is just enjoy it and respect the mic and create your own voice. Definitely keep God first and be sure to have a lot of faith and patience.

What’s next for Lil Rel?
Well, I have “Friends of the People” season two airing this summer again on the all new TruTv and we have some amazing classic sketches this season. Then on Aug. 5 I will make my sitcom debut as one of the co-stars of the new NBC comedy “The Carmichael Show,” which also stars Jerrod Carmichael, Amber West Stevens, Loretta Devine and David Alan Grier. And lastly, the “RELevent” special will air on Comedy Central this fall.

Lil Rel will tape his comedy special, “RELevent,” at Chicago’s Vic Theatre on Thursday, April 16. For ticket information, please visit


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