Before the premiere of his newest show, ‘Friends Of The People’ airs on TruTV this Tuesday (Oct. 28th at 10:30pm), we talk with Chicago native comedian Lil Rel. Lil Rel, who has been a known comedian to fans of shows like Comedy Central’s Half Hour, Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam, and the reboot of the Arsenio Hall show tells Comedy Hype his upcoming role on FOTP might be the missing link to his growing career.
HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT STARTING THIS NEW SERIES?
First of all I want to say this and shout you guys out at Comedy Hype, people dont know this, but alot of the stuff I think I’m about to do or have an idea about is what I hit you guys with first. You guys have seen first hand alot of the stuff that I just spoke up.
As far as our show, I think its going to be a huge success, because I never worked with a group of comedians as talented as all of us are. This hasn’t happened in years, like the old In Living Color days or when SNL was in it’s prime. This is going to be special. I’m very proud and happy to be apart of it. We all put our blood, sweat, and tears in this. It was very funny days, and some very tough days too, but looking at it now it was worth it. This show is going to be special.
YOU’VE DONE SO MUCH WITHIN YOUR CAREER BUT DO YOU THINK THAT FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE WILL BE A MISSING LINK TO FURTHER THINGS FOR YOU?
This definitely was a missing link. This show is making a reel of me showing how talented I really am. The crazy thing is that i was just talking to my manager about this. Its kind of frustrating, as much that I’ve done I’ve always been put on the back burner. I don’t know too many comedians, who are not famous who can do urban and mainstream at the same time. I’ve done a lot of that but I’m kind of always put to the side. I look at who people are praising, and I’m kind of always looked over. Its kind of weird to me especially since everything I’ve done I pretty much brought it. From Nickelodeon’s Mom Night Out, Whose Got Jokes, Last Comic Standing, Shaq All-Star Comedy Jam, Arsenio, Dave Attell, The Half Hour on Comedy Central, I’ve done so much stuff and always been put to the side. I think this show is one of those opportunities that will show that, “look guys this dude is a monster.” It will show that i can act, I can write, it will show I have a producer mentality, I have another drive going on right now. I was chilling for a minute but now I’m back to this Lil Rel grind, I want to show everyone that I’m probably the best.
SO WITH THIS NEW SKETCHES SERIES DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL FAVORITE WE SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR?
I might have to do a interview with you guys once a week (laughs) to tell you my favorite sketches. There is this one sketch called, “Chuckle Cheese.” It could be that I have kids or something but it is so funny to me. Josh rocked it and he really brought it home. Such a smart sketch. One thing I like about our sketches is that we like to build things then, “pow!” Another one is the ‘Dancing Gang vs The Real Gang’ sketch, based off of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ video. I use to watch the ‘Beat It’ video all the time. I always thought it would be funny if a real gang went against Michael’s dancers. Thats what I love about doing this show, its stuff I always thought of that may have just been funny to me. It’s like a dream come true for that sketch to be the first sketch because it was something I always dreamed about.
SPEAKING OF SKETCHES KEY AND PEELE RECENTLY AIRED A SKETCH ABOUT FAMILY MATTERS WHICH SOME SUGGESTED THAT THEY STOLE THE IDEA FROM A FIRST LOOK SKECTH OF FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE. DO YOU THINK KEY AND PEELE MAY HAVE RIPPED YOU GUYS?
Well let me say this, our Urkel sketch was in our pilot which we started writing last November. It was an idea the Lucas Bros. had. They’re so smart. They pay attention to details. We wrote that sketch in November – December, and shot it in January. So if you look at the timeline, they didn’t shoot theirs until like May or June. I’m not going to make no accusations, but it was very close. I thought what they did was funny. Is it better than our sketch?, no its not better. It was a lot of similar word play. It’s very interesting. You don’t want to cause a comedy sketch show beef or nothing.(laughs) Its a lot of things I’m seeing. It’s excitement for our show to be honest with you we wrote our show to be better than everybody else’s show.
SPEAKING OF DEALING WITH STOLEN MATERIAL, COREY HOLCOMB RECENTLY WENT ONLINE AND BASHED SEVERAL COMEDIANS HE SUSPECTED OF STEALING MATERIAL . DID YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT’S YOUR THOUGHTS?
I haven’t talked to Corey about it but Corey is Corey, thats what Corey does, he shakes things up. He is very opinionated. Honestly that’s Chicago, that what we do, we shake things up. There’s a lot of that, especially big comics who reach down from comics who aren’t really on yet over the years. I don’t know if the people care as much as we do. In our world its a big deal. Theres so much of it especially now a days. Thats why I hate going to LA sometimes, I’ve literally went to a show and watched one dude do one thing and everybody followed with a similar joke. Thats why I hate going out there. I feel like every time I leave there, I leave my material. That might piss some people off but that’s real talk. A lot of those people out there aren’t real comics, they’re actors, they’re acting like comics. I can go down the line of people who remixed my material. They can say it or not but thats why I am excited about where my career is going because at the end of the day my stuff comes from a real place. But people don’t realize when Corey was in Chicago he would do that. Im not necessarily shock, but thats what make Corey unique.
ANOTHER FELLOW COMEDIAN FROM CHICAGO DEON COLE, HE SEEMS TO BE ONE OF THOSE GUYS WHO HAS DONE ALOT IN THEIR CAREER BUT STILL HASN’T QUTIE BECOME A BIG STAR YET.
Yea, I believe so, he’s unsung, he’s an unsung comic. He does all this great stuff but there’s still other people we always push for. There’s not too many comics who do all of it. I think the game is about to change, I look at Deon as one of the bosses in the game. Honestly he set the blueprint for a lot of the Chicago comedians in my generation. He was the example. I think this year and having so much going on, I think he is about to explode.
THE RICHARD PRYOR BIOPIC IS IN THE WORKS WITH MIKE EPPS, BUT IF THEY WERE TO DO ONE OF BERNIE MAC, WHO DO YOU THINK HONESTLY COULD PULL OFF?
Well you said be honest, me. The only way it would be tough is that im not as tall as Bernie Mac but I promise you I could deliver the heart and the person he is. I would not characterize it. thats why I like Mike Epps playing Richard Pryor, because he is not going to characterize it. Same thing when Jamie did Ray, I think Mike is going to deliver Richard Pryor. I told Bernie Mac’s daughter that if they do a biopic on your father I want to play him. I don’t care of they have to cast people shorter than me so I can look taller.I would honestly bring the essence of who Bernie was. That’s why I love doing this show because you’re going to see my acting chops. I’m going to be doing everything. I’m not playing. You wont be able to put a label on Lil Rel. If somebody was needed to play Bernie, I would want to do it. Once I get my producer chops up and my money up, if I have do it then I’ll do it.
A BIG CONVERSATION IS SOME ONLINE COMEDIANS USING WIGS TO DELIVER THEIR COMEDY, ANY THOUGHTS?
It’s some weirdness with that. I’m not really impressed. I got mad one day, there was a comedian who posted pics of those dudes who wear wigs and one was of me doing my hood rat character. He wrote, “I guess people do anything to make it.” I had to reach out and let him know that I don’t think I should be put in that category. I do characters. It’s a difference, these guys just put on wigs and keep their facial hairs. It’s kind of a weird black thing because women keep reposting it. Like why do you like seeing your men look like that? Its confusion to the game. It is some psychological thing but I haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t even like looking at stuff like that anymore. If I see it on my timeline I scroll right past it. I’m very grateful to be in this TV world because as a young comic coming out right now there is not a lot of opportunities. I hope Friends Of The People can open the door and be a place where we can cast the next generation in the future, thats what we are aiming for.
WHAT’S YOUR THOUGHT ABOUT MORE STAGE COMEDIANS EMBRACING THE INTERNET NOW?
I’m glad to see a lot of the stand-up comedians take advantage of it. That should have been our platform anyway, we weren’t just smart enough to do it. You can’t wait on Hollywood, you don’t know whose going to give you that shot. It’s such a tight circle to get in. He may not get any credit for it, but how Lil Duval used the internet early on was the way to do it. He was creating great sketches, same with Benji Brown. If Benji Brown would have made his old bootleg sketch DVDs into a web series he would be the man. Those guys did it the right way. Duval did a lot of great stuff, I’ll never forget his R. Kelly interview he did, that was genius.
LOOKING AT EVERYTHING, ARE COMEDY SPECIALS STILL AS IMPORTANT FOR A COMEDIANS CAREER?
I think so. I think it will be a big deal depending on what kind of comic you are. I got material that resonates with everybody. I think thats what we haven’t seen in a while. We haven’t seen just somebody break out and just dominate. I think Hannibal (Buress) is really close to it but who is going to dominate across the board that’s not Kevin Hart. I really believe in my heart that’s who I am. It’s tough sometimes and I wonder why haven’t I got that look yet.They got video of my BET set floating on Instagram getting tons of hits but nobody knows who I am. I’m thankful for Friends Of The People for giving me the shot to show people I can actually act. It’s about to go down. I’m on ten. Its going to be interesting to see who I will be with people. Hopefully everything goes right with this special I want to shoot in December. At the end of the day I just want to make an impact on the game and on the culture.