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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

On the record with comedian Rodney Perry
Bounce TV star talks comedy, tragedy and following his dreams
 
Published Wednesday, May 21, 2014 5:00 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett

PHOTO/RODNEYPERRY.COM
Comedic actor Rodney Perry headlined the Custom Made Comedy Show at the Charlotte Comedy Zone May 20 with special guests Tone X and Dave Martin to raise money for the William E. Wilson Scholarship Fund and Autism Speaks. 

Funnyman Rodney Perry, host of Bounce TV’s “Off the Chain,” was in Charlotte recently to attend the William Wilson Celebrity Invitational, a two-day charity event held May 19-20 to raise money for two causes – providing scholarships for survivors of domestic violence and Autism Speaks.

The Post caught up with Perry while he was in town. In the following Q&A the comedic actor shares how he got his start in show business and his personal ties with domestic violence. Questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.  

QUESTION: The William Wilson Celebrity Invitational is a benefit for victims of domestic violence and Autism Speaks. Do you have a personal connection to either cause?

ANSWER: Absolutely. When you talk about autism, you are talking about something that we are dealing with now more than ever. I’m a father of six children. Luckily my children are healthy, but it’s a tough endeavor when you are a parent and your child is suffering from autism. So anytime you get a chance to give back, you give back.

In terms of domestic violence, I saw my mom be abused. So when William [Wilson] told me about the charity, I knew that I had to be on board. So, it’s a good event to be a part of. This is my third year. I wanted to do more to help, so we decided to add the Custom Made Comedy show this year.

Q: A lot of comics have said they draw inspiration for their material by finding humor in painful experiences. Are you ever inspired that way?

A: Yes. It’s like the two faces in drama – the laughing, comedic face and the tragedy – that’s very true. A lot of comedy comes from going through the things that you’ve been through, and hopefully you can share your story and somebody can benefit from that story. Some of my comedy comes from that, but it’s about more than that. It’s about being real because people know when you are wack or you’re being fake. The audiences want to feel that you are not [feeding them a bunch of bull].

Q: How did you get your start in comedy? Was there a defining moment when you knew that you were funny and could make money making people laugh?

A: I’m funny and I can make some money is two different questions. I had a teacher that would let me tell jokes at the end of the day if I would shut up through the course of the day. So, I knew I was funny. But I wouldn’t find out that I could make a living at it until much later on.

I was in the Navy. I served in the Navy for 12 years, and I had been performing. In 1998, I packed up my family and moved to L.A. We started making our money telling jokes. You’ve got to be prepared to make some sort of leap of faith, regardless of your passion. And I took that leap. So anybody that reads this, don’t be scared. Jump!

Q: That’s a pretty serious leap to make. Did you have any naysayers?

A: Naysayers? The closest people in your life are going to be the ones telling you not to do it – your family, your mom, your dad – because people are not going to get your dream at first. They just don’t get it. It’s not that they don’t support you; they just want the best for you. They look at you like, ‘What? You are going to tell jokes? You better get a job, fool!’

Q: As far as contemporary comedians, do you have any favorites?

A: I love them all. They are my peers. Katt Williams, I love what he is doing. Kevin Hart is on top of the world right now. He’s a friend of mine, as well. Tony Roberts is amazing. He’s from right here in Charlotte. Tone X is one of my favorite comedians.

I’m not only a comedian, but I love comedy. I love to watch funny people because as a comic, our bigger purpose is to lighten the collective burden. So when people come out to watch, you never know what they are going through. So that’s our job to allow them to be apart from that, at least for a couple of minutes.

Connect with Perry on Instagram @RodneyPerryLive, on Twitter @RodneyPerry or visit his website RodneyPerry.com for more information on his upcoming projects.

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