Rolling Out

Laughs, life and lessons with comedy icon Finesse Mitchell

How comedy, resilience, and a touch of Finesse shaped an entertainment icon’s journey from ‘SNL’ to stand-up stardom
Finesse Mitchell (Photo credit: Courtesy of Eric Ganison Photography)

In the fast-evolving world of comedy and entertainment, few names resonate with as much versatility and resilience as Finesse Mitchell. Known for his roles on “Saturday Night Live,” various TV shows and movies, Mitchell’s journey is a testament to the power of humor and determination. In this special edition of Star Studio on Equity in Focus, Kevin E. Hooks dives deep into the life and career of this multifaceted performer.

From Atlanta to Miami: The formative years

Finesse Mitchell, hailing from Atlanta, grew up with the influence of a single mother and occasional visits from his father. His early life was marked by a love for making people laugh, a talent he discovered alongside his athletic abilities. Attending the University of Miami on a football scholarship exposed him to a world of diversity and competition that would shape his future.

At Miami, Mitchell faced the challenge of balancing academics and athletics. Despite a rocky start with his GPA, he found his stride with the support of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, which provided direction and focus. This period of transformation culminated in his discovery of stand-up comedy at the Miami Improv Comedy Club, setting the stage for his future career.

Rising through the comedy ranks

Mitchell’s first major break came with BET’s “ComicView,” where his unique blend of humor quickly made him a fan favorite. Inspired by comedy legends like Bernie Mac, Chris Tucker, and Martin Lawrence, he honed his craft, developing a style that avoided overusing harsh language and instead focused on clever, relatable humor.

One of his standout bits involved a humorous take on how black audiences reacted to the subtitles in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This routine not only showcased his observational skills but also his ability to portray multiple characters and cultural nuances, a talent that would serve him well in his later career.

Mitchell’s big break came when he auditioned for “Saturday Night Live.” His performance earned him a spot alongside Kenan Thompson and JB Smoove, marking the beginning of his three-year tenure on the iconic show. This opportunity opened doors to roles in movies like Who’s Your Caddy?, Mad Money, and The Comebacks, as well as a successful stint as a relationship columnist and author.

The comedy and resilience formula

Mitchell’s journey was not without its challenges. After moving to Los Angeles, he experienced homelessness but his persistence and belief in his dream kept him going. He emphasized the importance of surrounding oneself with supportive people who believe in your vision. Mitchell’s support came from his fraternity brothers and his unwavering commitment to his comedic craft.

In addition to his comedy career, Mitchell has ventured into various domains. He’s hosted talk shows, performed at major comedy festivals, and will be releasing a comedy special titled Slightly Offensive. Despite the evolving landscape of comedy and entertainment, Mitchell continues to adapt and thrive, using platforms like YouTube to reach his audience.

Advice for aspiring entertainers

When asked about the key to longevity in the entertainment industry, Mitchell offered sage advice during his interview with rolling out: “You cannot marry someone or get involved with someone who is not in love with your first love, which is your dream.” He stressed the importance of protecting one’s dreams and surrounding oneself with people who support and believe in those dreams from the beginning.

Mitchell’s upcoming performances include City Winery appearances in Atlanta, Nashville, St. Louis, and Chicago. He also has a new movie and TV show in the works. He remains active on social media, engaging with fans and promoting his latest endeavors.

Finesse Mitchell’s story is one of resilience, talent, and the unwavering pursuit of dreams. His journey from the football fields of Miami to “Saturday Night Live” and beyond inspires aspiring entertainers and anyone facing challenges in their pursuit of success. As Mitchell continues to evolve and entertain, his legacy serves as a reminder that anything is possible with humor, determination, and the right support.

AI-assisted in summarizing this episode of Equity in Focus.

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