Interviewed by Tianna Sheree
How did you get started in comedy?
I wanted to be a comedian since I was 3 years old and I never had a backup plan. I’m 46 and I’ve been doing comedy for 23 years. I count it because I always remind myself of the journey and not the destination. My mom worked at a Convalescent Home when I was a kid, and she would put the people in a half circle in their entertainment rooms at the facility and she would just let me do whatever I wanted and I really didn’t have a real set. I was probably just making faces, dancing around and spinning, but in my mind I was the best.
It seems like you had a plan and always knew what you wanted to be huh?
Yea I wouldn’t know any other way. I was a kid from LA, surrounded by gangs and stuff and being funny as a kid was kind of unheard of. I had a teacher very early tell me “So you want to be a comedian,” and I said “no I don’t want to be a comedian, I am going to be a comedian”. She said” if you are going to be a comedian then you need to read these books”. She introduced me to Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain, and Michelle Silverstein and I learned very early in my life that to just be a comedian is not about being funny, but it’s also about being smart. So, I kind of pride myself on almost being a sociologist and understanding the norms of different people.
How do you cohesively mix being a Christian and comedian, and how do you deal with the critics?
My whole thing is I’m not a Christian comedian, I’m a comedian that loves Christ. If I call myself a Christian comedian then it takes away from me and puts me in a box.
Amen. I think a lot of us need to understand that we are a combination of many things correct?
Yes, but we are human beings first. We’re never going to get there. No human, no Christian, or no person in a religion gets to the end until you die. It’s a constant battle. It’s an everyday being better than I was yesterday and everyday testing and not thinking about the one you failed yesterday. It’s waking up with great expectations and trusting God to head my life. You know comedy is a very single thing. It’s nobody else out here but me. I’m not on a team, I’m not in a band. I never wanted to be in a group. You know doing comedy it’s just me against everyone, so I learned to trust God above everything. You have to understand that in 23 years, only a couple of times have I known where my income comes from. Other than that, in those times, you just wing it. Other than that I just trust God that if he gifted me with this, then HE would have to provide. I’ve never chased money and you can’t just dangle money in front of me. I don’t want anything from money.
How was it being the first American to tape Comedy Central Africa?
It actually wasn’t a big deal to me and my team, because I’m always the first to do something. I’m always a trailblazer and I’ve never followed the path of other people. I’ve trusted my own path and I’ve always become the first.
I listen to your show every morning! Can you please tell us about “Get Up Mornings with Erica Campbell”
“Get Up Mornings with Erica Campbell,” what a blessing. We celebrated 2 years on May 10th and when I tell you my life has been changed in these past 2 years, it’s crazy. In November 2013, I heard the Lord tell me, just as clear as I’m talking to you that 2016 would by my year of abundance. It would be my year that everything that I worked on would come into fruition, and HE would bless me in a way that I have never seen in my entire life. But I’m so human that instead of being thankful and rejoicing, I was like “What about 2014?” You telling me something that’s really no help right now Jesus(laughs). When that year came, you know January 1st, I just realized and believed in my soul that between now and December 31st at 11:59pm, that the Lord was going to bless me in a way that I wouldn’t understand. I wasn’t going to let the enemy bother me at all. On April 20th I pretty much had the worst year of my life. My wife and I started the process of divorce, and I never in a thousand thoughts would have imagined that I would lose my family, in a year that was claimed by God.
Eventually I got a phone call from someone that I had met many years ago and he said that there was a position opening and he would let me know what was happening shortly. But the crazy thing is that the man that called me was like GRIFF, we really picked you because you’ve been on radio before and we really think you would be a good fit for this person. He remembered me from doing something I did back in 2006, and I hadn’t talked to this man in ten years. It really just makes me think that the seeds that God sows now, aren’t for now, they’re for way later. You always have to be nice to people. You always have to be thankful and grateful. It’s so crazy because every time I would see Erica I would always say “Hey let me get on one of your interludes on one of your albums. Let me do something crazy!” Erica would always say “Man let’s talk about it.” Everything pays off you know, I can’t even say enough. This is truly the first time in my career that I’ve had real management, and God has truly put me around some great people.
What advice do you have for upcoming comedians, that might help them along their journey?
I wanted to be a comedian for so long that you now, in 1997, Monique’s comedy club in Baltimore, Maryland was the first comedy club that payed me. I got $300 from doing about 6-8 shows, and I had been doing comedy for 2 years and that was the first time I had gotten paid. And on that night, I became a comedian. After becoming a comedian, the very next night, I became a radio personality, and then time after that I became sports recorder of the year. Point being, I’m a creator, and when you are a creative you have a responsibility for the things that you say. You really have to dig within and find out what you’re doing it for. I never did it for the money. I’ve always did it for the responsibility that I have as a human being.