His side-splitting humor has made comedian Rip Micheals a household name. His ability to captivate an audience has landed him on popular shows like “Def Comedy Jam,” “Bad Boys of Comedy,” “Comic View” and “Wild ‘N Out.” The Chicago native migrated to New York City with jokes and a dream to become one of the best comedians of his generation. He is now an elite member of the New York City Kings of Comedy. From films and television to stand-up shows and comedy tours, Micheals has dominated the entertainment industry to become one of the most sought-after comedians, today.
You are from the South Side of Chicago, why did go to New York to pursue a comedy career?
At 6 years old, my first joke was when my grandmother passed. Being able to make people laugh at her funeral made me realize that I wanted to do it. I had the opportunity to talk to Dave Chappelle and he told me I needed to be in New York. Before my friend Jermaine passed away he told me that that’s something I should truly pursue. So, I literally quit my job, got on the bus and came to New York. I slept on the streets [and was] homeless for eight months to a year right outside of the FIT Institute and on 42nd street because I was too scared to go to any other bureau. I didn’t know real estate so when I used to tell people I lived on Lexington Ave and in the Diamond District, they didn’t believe me. I didn’t know the area was known [as] one of the most expensive places in real estate. But those were some of the parks I was sleeping in. So, later on, I was like “Oh, that’s why they thought I was full of s—.” I would never be able to afford to live over there.
How do you feel about the new generation of comedians gaining quick success using unconventional platforms?
… Now you can just have one million followers [on social media] and be a headliner tomorrow, which is so dope because you can display yourself to the masses and that wasn’t available when I first started out doing comedy.
How did you become one of the New York City Kings of Comedy?
New York was a comedy hub that took a lot of hard work to crack into. I did it and I had the most rooms. I had 11 rooms a week in New York. I would have two shows on a Monday, three shows another day and so on. I would bring out my feature and let my headline close and go to another club. I had New York for a strong six years. If there was any type of comedy, in urban comedy, it was me. God rest his soul, but when Rasheed [Thurmond] passed away, I had all of his rooms. I would produce my own shows. That’s what led people to notice who I was.
Is it true that you came up with a word that is now in the Urban Dictionary?
Ha! Yes. Clatchet. That’s classy plus ratchet. This girl I was dating used to [wear] rainbow boots and [carry] a Michael Kors bag. She was so ghetto. The kind of girl that will curse you out in church but will still pray for you later on at night. That’s where it came from. The first time I actually used it was on a television audition for a show with Tiffany Haddish called “According to Him or Her” that used to come on Centric. Von Decarlo came in and she was putting a pencil eraser on the back of some expensive earrings to hold it in place because she lost the back. During the interview, I told them that Von was clatchet because she had a Louis Vuitton bag with a Rush card in it and they laughed and they kept it. It became this whole thing and I’ve even watched women on “Love & Hip Hop” say it. You never know what your hits are.
How did you get your first big break on the big screen?
I was on Christina Milian’s show “Becoming” on MTV’s “Wannabe.” I won a makeover contest and played Ja Rule for the day. Then Christina let me do warmups on different stages of hers and then put me in a movie called Love Don’t Cost a Thing. Her and mama Milian told me that I was super funny and it went from there.
How did you link up with Nick Cannon for “Wild ‘N Out”?
I did the movie Love Don’t Cost a Thing featuring Nick Cannon and Christina Milian. That’s how I met Nick. I didn’t have the opportunity to participate in “Wild ‘N Out” at the beginning. I’m a single father so I couldn’t just uproot me and my daughter and move to LA. When they came to New York I finally got the opportunity to do it. … Following the first few seasons, I became a part of the cast of the show. This is my fifth year.
What should fans keep an eye out for?
Right now I’m on Wild ‘N Out’s very first national tour and it will be hitting the DMV area Dec. 22. We will hit two arenas in one night. That’s never been done, I don’t think, in comedy, period, I’ve never seen anyone sell out an arena and then go on the other side of town in the same night and sell out another arena. But that’s just because of the ultimate fan base that we have, the diverse cast and the type of comedy that we do.
Aside from “Wild ‘N Out,” Micheals has a busy schedule performing stand-up on 50 Cent’s new show “50 Central” and working on a new sketch variety show called “Off the Rip.” He created a show called “Hungry in the Hood” on the Food Network coming out next summer and has a 30-minute special produced by Kevin Hart, out next March.