Comedian and actor, Brandon T. Jackson has been seen on screen with some of the greatest entertainers. From Ben Stiller in “Tropic Thunder” to Martin Lawrence in the third installment of “Big Momma’s House”. Now, Brandon is back with his newest project, “Living With Funny”, a show that documents the life of his and 4 other comedians, as they try to balance comedy and dating. Comedy Hype caught up with Brandon T. Jackson to chat about “Living With Funny”, his stand-up career, why Dave Chappelle would be his roommate and how being from Detroit plays a role in his success.
By Corey Tate
CH: You’re starring in OXYGEN’s new reality show, “Living With Funny”. Can you tell us more about your role in the show and what we can expect to see from you?
BTJ: Initially, the show was going to be a docu-series about my life. Producer Lemuel Plummer and I were discussing the idea and it snowballed into an even better idea; why not include my comedian friends and show their dating lives also? When it comes to dating, we’re essentially all going through the same things. Michael Blackson, DeRay Davis, Adam Hunter and Erik Rivera are all trying to balance comedy and dating, just like I am. The goal was to show everyone’s experiences with it. Everyone brings something different to the show.
CH: If someone were to live with Brandon T. Jackson, what are some requirements that they’d have to abide by?
BTJ: I just like people who keep it real. Because that’s the only thing I can connect to; real people. I’m from Detroit. My girlfriend Denise is Cape Verdean. People from those are 2 backgrounds are some of the most honest people you’ll ever meet. And on the show, (“Living With Funny”) it translates onto the screen. I don’t know anything other than being real. So, if someone lived with me, that’s all I’d ask for.
CH: If you could have a celebrity roommate, who would they be and why?
BTJ: Definitely no women celebrities. If I live with a woman, it’s because we’re in a relationship. Any man who claims he can live with a girl roommate and not be attracted to her, is a liar. I guarantee that if your female roommate walks around the house with nothing but a towel on, fresh out of the shower, you’re gonna have a change of heart [Laughs]. Also, as you’ll see on “Living With Funny”, I already have a girl, so I’m good in that department.
But if I had to choose a celebrity roommate, it would have to be Dave Chappelle. He’s hilarious. One minute he’s calm, the next minute he’s explosive. I’d never get tired of Dave. He’s so damn funny. Dave Chappelle is my favorite stand up comedian.
CH: If you could give a guy tips on keeping his girlfriend happy, would would you tell them?
BTJ: Shut up. Just shut up and let your woman talk. If she’s talking, listen and wait until she’s finished. She’s not talking just for the sake of talking. Whatever she’s telling you, is something that’s important to her. So, just listen. Sometimes as comedians, it’s hard to be on the listening end, because we talk for a living and always want to talk about ourselves. But if you want to keep your girl happy, you have to listen and give her time to let it all out. Wait for your turn to talk.
CH: Has your new show, “Living With Funny” inspired new comedy material?
BTJ: So much material. In the first season, you’ll be introduced to the cast. You know us as stand up comedians, but you never get to see the other side. So, we’re giving you a chance to see the other side. And when it’s time for the second season, you’ll be seeing more stand up in the show. You’ll see stand up that correlates with the show.
CH: You hail from Detroit Michigan. As far as entertainment goes, Detroit is one of the most legendary cities. From the Motown days, to present day with people like yourself. How did Detroit play a role in who you’ve become today?
BTJ: Detroit is everything for me. It’s made me everything that I am. Being from Detroit keeps me grounded. Detroit is such a real place and real people come from our city. A lot of people see our city as dried up and they feel like nothing good can come from it. But look at what it’s created. Currently, you have myself, Big Sean, Dej Loaf and a slew of other people who’ve emerged from a city that people have turned their backs on. Coming from Detroit, we have a sense of pride, but we also have a chip on our shoulders because everyone has turned their backs on us. And this makes us want to be great. Essentially, pressure builds diamonds.
CH: Your fanbase is very diverse. You grew up in urban environments, but also you were raised in suburbs, too. Do you think growing up in vastly environments played a part in building your diverse fanbase?
BTJ: For sure. Growing up with people from different backgrounds allows me to connect to everyone. And when you come to my shows, you’ll see a reflection of this. Also, my movies are either hood or Hollywood. And what’s cool is, sometimes it bleeds over. Like, hood dudes will come up to me and say things like, “Man, I loved you in Percy Jackson.” It’s like the crowds at my shows are a mix between Tyler Perry and Taylor Swift. People of all ages and all walks of life come to my shows and enjoy it, because they can all connect to what I’m saying.
CH: In your comedy, you’re very vocal about growing up with a father who was a pastor. Pastors are public speakers and possess the skill of knowing how to hold everyone’s attention. A good stand up comedian does the same thing. Was stand up comedy easier for you, being that you were raised by someone who essentially does the same thing that you do?
BTJ: Well first off, my dad is from the streets. A real 70’s soul brother type of dude. So he was never really insanely religious. He didn’t do things like come in the house and yell upstairs to me and my siblings, “GET Y’ALL ASSES DOWN HERE AND READ THE BIBLE!” [Laughs]. He was just a righteous man. But growing up in church definitely made me a better entertainer. The first time I ever did stand up was in church. Some of the best entertainers come from church. Whitney Houston, Chris Brown, myself and so many others. We start in these communities and build from there. That’s our root.
CH: We’ve been seeing you in lots of comedic film roles, but also, you’ve never stopped doing stand up. What makes stand up comedy so special to you?
BTJ: I do stand up for the people. I never do it for me. I talk about my experiences, but I do it so people can have a release. Laughter is a release.
I like looking into the crowds and seeing people’s faces dying with laughter. It feels amazing. There’s nothing like stand up comedy.
CH: You and Eddie Murphy were signed on to do Beverly Hills Cop reboot. Unfortunately, the series didn’t get picked up. But on the bright side, you got a chance to work with the legendary Eddie Murphy. An opportunity that some people can only dream of. What did you learn from working with Eddie?
BTJ: I wish the show would’ve got picked up, but it didn’t. Why didn’t it get picked up? I don’t know. Sometimes, that’s just how the business works. But we keep it moving. As far as working with Eddie, it was amazing. I’ve worked with a lot of greats, but this is Eddie Murphy we’re talking about. Eddie keeps you on your toes. Eddie is such a pro, that he doesn’t even do many takes. He’ll do a few and they’re all hilarious. Working with Eddie Murphy was a phenomenal experience. It was a blessing.
CH: Recently, TV shows have gotten a breath of fresh air. We can accredit that to networks and streaming services like Netflix for taking chances on diverse shows. Would you be interested developing a show for a network that stars yourself?
BTJ: Definitely. I would love to develop a show. But it has to feel authentic. Whenever I take on roles, I make sure it feels real to me. So if I developed a show, it would have to be personal and true to myself. I always strive for authenticity.
CH: We’ll all be tuning in to your new show, “Living With Funny” on April 12th. Besides this show, is there any other projects your fans should be looking out for?
BTJ: Besides “Living With Funny”, you can also catch me in the movie, “Get A Job”. The movie has an amazing cast. In this movie, I worked with actors like Miles Teller of “Fantastic Four” and Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad”. It’s a very funny movie and it’s available right now OnDemand.
“Living With Funny” premieres Tuesday, April 12th on the OXYGEN network, at 9/8C.
By Corey Tate