There are a few different ways to make it. You can be an overnight success, you can have the right friends, or be at the right place at the right time, or you could be an asshole, just crushing people to get to the top. The hardest but smartest way to make a name for yourself though is by putting yourself out there in every medium possible, with hard, patient work. Comedian Corey Holcomb handled his business that way.
Holcomb, a Chicago native became an active comedian in 2002. Since then, he's moved to Los Angeles, hosts his own internet radio show, The Corey Holcomb 5150 Show, had parts in major motion pictures -- Like Mike and Think Like A Man Too -- and also acts as a recurring character on television shows. He's Boonie on Black Jesus and the voice of Robert on The Cleveland Show. In addition, he's continued touring as a non-apologetic stand-up comedian with one of the most controversial Twitter feeds around.
We spoke with Holcomb recently before a string of shows at the Fort Lauderdale Improv.
New Times: Black Jesus is an amazing show. It's as hilarious as it is heartfelt and completely unique. How would you describe your time on the show? Your feelings on it?
Corey Holcomb: It was a lot of fun. I liked the cast and the creators a whole lot, so I was in. I knew the whole time we were filming that the show would do well on television, especially because there's nothing like it on television. There is a voice missing on TV that Black Jesus invokes.
Also, it felt good to hear about a number of people who initially protested the show, wound up watching it and had the courage to admit that they were wrong about the show, and that they liked it. And good for them! Because, as I've learned with my comedy style, sometimes when you're doing something new, it's not well-received in the beginning, but after a while, people will be like, "That's not as what I thought it was at all!" ( laughs)
Your Twitter feed is an entertaining, crazy spectacle. You treat it like no one else I've seen. There was your recent #Comicblast campaign. What thought process goes into it?
On my Twitter feed, I say stuff that catches folks off guard all the way. I've had a group of women trying to get my account taken down, which I thought was selfish because there's a lot of ladies who like my Twitter feed because they don't take it that seriously.
I will admit if you're an insecure person, my Twitter feed will not be something you like. The truth is, I throw some stuff from the heart in there and mix it up with entertainment, because as a comedian, I can't be scared to say stuff that I think is funny.
But I do go out of my way to not be so mean, that it's all the way insulting. Sometimes it's a little shocking what I say on Twitter, I worry about the way things are going in the world now, if someone may be able to orchestrate some drama against me. Even though I worry about that, I can't stop doing what I'm doing. It is what it is.
As far as those comics I put on blast, I would love for them to challenge me on what I'm saying. Everything I say I can back it up, especially with these comedians, I know these guys. When you're a comedian who comes out here and you work to come up with original material, then you see these guys who, in my opinion, steal from the comedy game, I have to put them on blast. I could have kept going with people, but I'm just one guy, I can't be the comedy pope. (laughs) So I just took a stab at those four, but I can't stay I won't keep stabbing on folks. Depends on how I feel that day on Twitter.
Do you find yourself catching much backlash for constantly speaking about whatever is on your mind?
Yeah (laughs), yeah, I do. Like one time said a joke, and it had the word "rape" in it, then I had a whole group of people, like they were a group. You could tell they get together and they do this. That's their thing, like my thing is cracking some crazy jokes sometimes. But, they get together, send you all this negative stuff on Twitter, none of which you can respond to. I can't even really remember the joke, but from then on I learned there are key words that you just can't use in a joke.
And another time I wound up hearing something very, very wise. One day I cracked a gay joke, and people from GLADD got in touch with me and said something that changed things. He said, "Corey, I think your jokes are very funny, but you let yourself get into it with somebody and you used the word 'hate'. You can crack jokes, but don't ever use 'hate,' because then they can point their finger and say you're the bad guy."
I thought it made so much sense when he said it, and I thanked him for the advice. He's right. As long you don't act like you're hating somebody, and just joke about it, and really that is what I was doing in the first place. I want people to know that what I say is all in humor, I don't hate people. That's why what that guy said clicked so hard. I would like say to everybody out there, if I say something that you find offensive, it's not because I hate you. It's because I'm cracking a joke.
Sensitivity, in comedy especially, has been at an all-time high. It's refreshing to have someone stand by their jokes and thoughts.
Yeah, I think there should be a dialogue on how it's going too far with someone judging what someone meant with something, you know? There are people out there who crack jokes with mean, bad intentions behind them. Most of the time, though, when I'm cracking jokes, I'm sitting up thinking up stuff. If I think it's a bit funny or creative I'll put it on my Twitter or do it on stage.
You know, was in Houston last week, working the comedy clubs. The reason we had to add two shows is because there is an audience for what I'm doing! (laughs) Andrew Dice Clay sold out Madison Square Garden, and he wasn't a guy of kind words. There's an audience for comedy, and I'm trying to be as responsible with it as I can, but you gotta do what you gotta do!
And not everybody can be the warmest guy in the world like Andrew Dice Clay.
Right (Laughs). It's so weird man, I moved out here to L.A., from Chicago, and now I stay out in the Valley. Out here though, I see these guys walking around. I was in the grocery store with Andrew Dice Clay. I wanted to go up and say, "Hey! I'm a big fan," but he's an intimidating looking guy. Not like he's going to beat me up or anything, just some people have that look that goes, "Don't say nothing to me."
Another guy who had that look was Robert Blake. Man, I saw this guy in the grocery store, and out of everyone I've ever seen in my life with a gangsta look, Robert Blake had one of the most gangsta. I was scared to walk down the aisle with this guy there. He's not a big guy, but he has that history of getting away with murder.
Nobody in the store was walking up to him going, "Hey, look! It's Robert Blake!" There was a look in his eyes... I wish I would have thought to take out my phone and record him, but I probably would of been scared if he saw me. I've met Suge Knight, and all kinds of scary dudes, but 5'8 Robert Blake is the most intimidating guy I ever saw in person.
It's pretty amazing you're more terrified of a Little Rascal than notoriously scary bad ass Suge Knight.
That's right! He was a Little Rascal!!! He takes little rascal to a whole new level.
Corey Holcomb, October 30 to November 2 at the Fort Lauderdale Improv, 5700 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $22 plus fees. Visit improvftl.com for times.