Tomorrow night, Lil Rel Howery will release his first ever hour special, which will be presented by Kevin Hart. In a special one on one interview for Vulture, Kevin spoke to the Chicago native about his origin, comedy influences, and future plans. As Kevin spoke on Rel’s style he went on to compare him to fellow Chicago comedian Bernie Mac. Rel then followed by sharing his comedy influences in Chicago such as DeRay Davis, and Deon Cole.
KH: You definitely have so many different cadences of so many different people, so you can tell that you’re well versed in comedy, in knowing those before you, what they did, and why they’re great at what they’re doing. The one thing that you do have is just such a great ability to storytell. But you also got the edginess. I’ve seen you, and I’ve thought to myself, He’s got that Bernie Mac edgy. One thing that Bernie Mac had that was so amazing was that he was so raw and uncut, but at the same time, he maintained a certain level of likability. You have that when you talk about your kids and you talk about your interactions with other people that aren’t necessarily great situations. Do you have any Chicago influences outside of the realm of major superstardom?
LR: Oh, definitely. DeRay [Davis]. I always joke about this with people: Chicago DeRay was different from L.A. DeRay. In so many ways, he influences how I’ve promoted myself. To this day, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a comic that hit the streets as much as he did to promote his shows. That dude would stand at the train station and pass out fliers for a show that was already going to be packed every Sunday. I’ve never seen anything like that before. Then, onstage, he would just freestyle. Every week he hosted. Lots of times people shy away from hosting, but it helps you a lot. It makes you more personable when you deliver your material, and it gives you a chance to play. When you start doing your 45-minute headliner set, if you’ve been hosting all year long, you’re basically doing your best stuff. You don’t have to sit down and write a bunch of stuff. It’s already worked into a set. Deon Cole was one of the first cats to give me tags all the time. When you see Deon and Corey Holcomb and DeRay or Damon Williams, who was like our godfather of comedy, the thing those guys did for me was display what the business of comedy is. Also, you’ve done a lot as far as bringing back the old-school version of comedy. For a while, everybody had to have quick jokes — pah, ping, ping, ping, boom, boom, boom. When you came around, you started bringing storytelling back, and it made it easier for guys like me who wanted to tell stories and do characters.
The upcoming RELevent special is set to premiere Sept. 5 at 11/10c on Comedy Central.