I recently got a chance to sit down with Comedian, Rodney Perry who is the host of the Bounce TV stand-up comedy show, “Off The Chain,” former co-host of the “Monique Show.” Of course this isn’t all that he’s done…He’s done a bit of acting to. If you are a Tyler Perry fan, you probably remember him as “Harold” in the film, “Madea’s Big Happy Family.” He’s a Great guy, full of energy and it was a total blessing to have the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about his accomplishments, family, projects and more.
RW: Before we get into the deep juicy stuff, who is Rodney Perry?
RP: I’m a lot of things man. I am a father, a husband, a stand-up comic, a producer, a writer, a director, a philanthropist…I do it all. I work hard, that’s what I do.
RW: Most of us are familiar with you from the “Monique Show” or in the Tyler Perry Film, “Madea’s Big Happy Family”, but you’ve been doing this for a minute – When did you first discover your talent?
RP: I had a teacher that would let me tell jokes at the end of the day, if I would shut up throughout the course of the day and that was second grade. I was one of those kids who use to crack on people, but I didn’t find it as a profession until probably about the early 90’s and it wasn’t until the late 90’s that I really kind of dedicated myself to comedy and went full steam ahead professionally.
RW: I’ve read about your Navy experience and found it to be interesting. Would you say there is a connection – How did your time serving play a part in your comedy career?
RP: It effected my work ethic. When you are a member of the armed services…If you don’t walk out of there with anything else, you’ll walk out of there with work ethic. You know, getting up early in the morning, doing something or getting something; it makes you task oriented and goal oriented. It just actually helps you get something done.
RW: I mentioned Monique, beautiful woman. Believe it or not, I actually met you years back in Atlanta at a taping of the Monique Show and got a chance to experience your chemistry together on and off the stage. What was that experience (being on the show) like and what was it like working with Mrs. Parker?
RP: (Laughs) Monique is one of the coldest people in the business. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great comedians, from George Lopez, to Cedric The Entertainer, to Steve Harvey and more in between…But Mo, she’s just a real solid human being. If she tells you something, you can take it to the bank. She’s just like that! The thing that was different between she and I and some of my male counterparts is even if a guy is on another level than you are, there’s always a competition among men and Monique and I never had that competition. It was almost like being with family, your sister or your favorite cousin. We always had a great rapport.
RW: Tyler Perry. He just came in and killed the movie game…How did you come about getting the role of “Harold” in “Madea’s Big Happy Family” and what was it like working with Tyler Perry and the rest of the cast?
RP: Well actually… All the blessings I’ve ever got came through stand up. I was doing comedy at the Uptown Comedy Corner in Atlanta and I took a weekend and I really didn’t want to do it because money wasn’t right and I was like “this is weak,” but I took the gig. I rather work, than not work. I was there on a Wednesday and Thursday…That Thursday night, Roger Bobb (Perry’s right hand man at the time) saw me live and was like, “Yo man, I might have something for you.” They had been trying to cast this role for months; they tried Craig Robinson, Corey Holcomb…They tried quite a few people and they just weren’t the right fit for that particular role. So I went to audition that Friday and didn’t hear anything that Friday, nor all day Saturday. That Saturday, I was actually talking to one of my boys on the phone and I was like, “Yo, I went in for this Tyler Perry joint, but I don’t think it going to happen because they gotta shoot on Monday…If they were going to call me, they would have called today.” No sooner that I said that, the phone rings and it’s Tyler Perry Studios congratulating me for booking the role of “Harold.” I was on the set shooting two days later!
RP: Yeah and it was a great cast! I had already worked with Bow Wow. I actually worked with Bow Wow when he was younger on “Johnson’s Family Vacation,” that I shot with Steve and Ced… So I had a relationship with Bow Wow already and the rest of the cast, they were cool. It was a great set to be on and you hear stories about Tyler Perry making the set real sterile, but it wasn’t. It was a fun set. He is a pretty cool kat and one thing I seen as I watched is that he works just as hard as anyone else on set, so you can’t complain.
RW: And “Perry”. You guys aren’t related right?
RP: We are not related. Actually, after we shot for a couple of weeks, he invited us all out to his house and he told me one day, “I almost didn’t hire you because we have the same last name and I didn’t want anyone to thing it was nepotism.” And I said, “Man, let me tell you something…I got six kids. If you would have not hired me, I’d be sleeping on your front lawn.” But yeah, we’re not related. There are rumors that his family might be related to my wife’s family on some distant relative type stuff, but I don’t know if that’s true.
RW: The second season of Bounce TV’s “Off The Chain” premieres soon and you are the host. Can you tell us more about the show and what to expect this next season?
RP: The first season…Well, essentially it’s a stand-up comedy show – less like Def Jam, more like Comic View. It was a clean show for television, but this season coming got turned up times 10…We got a brand new stage, brand new lighting; the set is crazy. The comics brought it and we also got to shoot a lot of extra footage, improvising, etc. We created a really good comedy show and I’m anxious for the world to see it.
RW: Growing up, I’m sure there were other comedians you either looked up to or enjoyed watching…Who are some of your influences?
RP: I always say, as Comedians…We really don’t get to have an influence. Like if you’re a singer, you can say “Marvin Gaye is my influence” or “…I sound like him a little bit,” but it’s different in comedy. If I had to name somebody; Early Rodney Perry is heavy Eddie Murphy. Eddie Murphy is the reason I do comedy. I was a fan of his early on and the people that make me laugh, my peers like Katt Williams, Kevin Hart, J.B Smooth, Tony Roberts…I really love comedy, so I’m a fan of a lot of great comics.
RW: You mentioned your children…Is it hard being on the road away from your family? How do you stay focused?
RP: It could be hard, but I’m probably at home more than the guy who has a 40 hour a week job; I just have to pack my bags and get on the plane. For instance, next week I’ll be out of town and will be gone maybe for 4 days so generally speaking out of a month, I’m gone 10 to 12 days. It’s a lot, but the secret as I see it…Just like you put work on your schedule, you gotta put family on your schedule. If you do that, you can kind of help service their needs as much as you can. But DON’T tell your wife or your girl your putting them on a schedule…They don’t like that. No, don’t do that! (Laughs) As you need to make time, you need to make time – She doesn’t need to know she’s on a schedule, but she is. (laughs)
RW: When preparing for a show or role, how do you prepare or zone in?
RP: You know, I don’t do… You see comics shadow-boxing and all that bull and I be like, “What the hell, you ain’t no boxer!” I personally just get real calm. For stand-up, I read my notes and I use either the pad on my phone or the one at the hotel next to the phone to write down my topics. That’s really my preparation, deciding how I want the show to go that night. As a actor, it’s simple. Know your lines! If you know your lines, you can work outside of them. Know your lines.
RW: Other than comedy, is there anything else you would like to do or would do?
RP: I don’t really have a plan B, but I do have aspirations to produce, create… I want to be a guy who not only creates work for himself, but also create work for other people so I would definitely get in that lane. But I wouldn’t have been a singer, nor would I have worked at a bank. There was never a plan B. You just work until you can’t work no more. If you don’t quit, you can win. The only way you lose the game is if you quit.
RW: Upcoming projects or events to look out for?
RP: We do a show in Atlanta called #FirstWednesdays on the first Wednesday of every month. December 4th is the next one. It’s a live show and I host it. We put up comedians, poets and have a live band and DJ…It’s just a crazy night out!
RW: Where can your fans find or follow you?
RW: What can we expect from Rodney in 2014?
RP: “Off The Chain” and in 2014 I’m going to start working on my new DVD which is Rodney Perry, “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” The idea behind it is that people like to take your kindness for weakness sometimes and so with that, we’re going to let the nice guy take the back seat and let gangsta Rodney ride front seat for a minute.
RW: What type of advice would you give an aspiring comic?
RP: A couple of things… One – Know your history! Go on YouTube and watch and learn comedy, but without absorbing or regurgitating it. Don’t watch it to repeat it, but watch it to learn the pitfalls, ups and downs of people and then perform. You have to get on stage and if you get beyond that point, don’t quit. Just don’t quit. If you don’t quit, I’ll see you at the top!