Excitement doesn't quite describe the feeling we have here at UG Digital Mag about Rodney Perry. We've followed Mr Perry for quite some time, and it's so amazing what he's been able to do with his career. From his career in stand-up comedy, and his time co-hosting a late-night talk show with Mo'Nique, to his work on the big screen, his work has been nothing short of amazing.
This week, he's here in Cleveland, and will be performing at the Cleveland Improv all weekend. It'll surely be a time for all to come out and laugh like never before, and get up close and personal with a comedy legend. Much like the times when many other comics have landed here in Cleveland, we definitely wanted to catch up with Mr Perry while he was here. Our level of respect for him is infinite for many reasons. He's done so much in the industry, and through it all, he has remained humble to the utmost, always looking for ways to not only advance his own craft, but that of others looking to build in this business. He talks with us about the name and career he has built, as well as some new projects he has in the works, including a new venture into the reality tv world that is sure to help those new comics coming behind him. He also elaborates on his time here in the city, both past and present.
I will say that my excitement in connecting with Mr Perry was through the roof. Aside from the amazing work he's done in comedy, he's someone that is standing in his truth, and doing what he loves, which is something we push heavily here with the magazine and site. In so many ways, seeing him pushing for his dreams has inspired me in launching the site, and ultimately the magazine. We had a great conversation, and the way I laughed, I know his show is going to be a riot. Check out our feature with Mr Perry below!
UG Digital Mag: This is an amazing opportunity, not only to catch up with you which has been a dream, but knowing that I’ve followed you and you’ve been inspirational to me in following my own dreams. It just makes me appreciate you so much more.
Rodney Perry: Oh man, thank you so much for having me. i know you have a choice, and the fact that you reached out is dope.
UG Digital Mag: I think it’s why so many people follow you. It’s the positivity. You don’t have-ass it, and you still meet and greet your fans as well, which stands out.
Rodney Perry: I have a great group of people who mentored me along the way, whether it’s Ced the Entertainer, George Lopez, or Mo’Nique; nobody is a stranger to them. These cats treat everybody great. They make it easy for you to carry on that tradition.
UG Digital Mag: Being honest, the first time I came across you was when you co-hosted Mo’Nique’s show. You two existed perfectly together. You both showcased each other, and everyone watching knew it was genuine, and it was all love.
Rodney Perry: The synergy between us was great. As a man, even if a guy is above you on some level, there’s always a quiet competition between men. I’ve had a lot of great male mentors, but Mo’Nique and I developed a different connection because there was no competition.
UG Digital Mag: She wants to see you win too. She knows her lane and where she fits, and people love her for that.
Rodney Perry: Yea. To watch that up close and personal is crazy. I’ve seen Mo’Nique walk out on stage, and people applaud for 20 minutes before she opens her mouth. She’s such a testament to the fact that good guys do win. If I can leave anything here, it’s that good guys do not finish last. I used to think that way a lot.
UG Digital Mag: They definitely come out on top, and it speaks volumes to what you do. You’ve come so far, obviously with stand-up and movies, and with this show - I think you’re going to tear it up. I will be there Friday night.
Rodney Perry: Oh wow. Good stuff. Stand-up comedy is my first love. Everything else I’ve done, whether it’s hosting and starting my own radio show, or movies and TV, it’s all a means to an end. The only reason I do tv is so people know enough to come see me live. That’s when I know that I’ve got you, and you’re a fan. When you come to see Rodney Perry live, and excuse me for talking in third person (laughing), but when you see Rodney Perry live, it’s impossible to walk out without being a fan.
UG Digital Mag: What is it about the small and intimate setting that draws you in? With where you are in your career, you’re able to do arenas too, like the Kevin Harts, and the Katt Williams’, who coincidentally was here this past weekend. You can do that whenever you like, but you consistently come back to places like the Improv where fans can get close to you.
Rodney Perry: Well you know, I ain’t going to lie. I’m trying to get in them arenas too, but while you’re building the brand, there’s nothing like touching the people. The comedy club provides an atmosphere where you put 300 to 400 people in a room instead of 16,000. Like, it’s impossible to touch 16,000 people. It’s impossible, at least in that one night. You can give a great show, but you can’t touch them. At a club, I can shake every single hand with every man and woman in the room, and they say that dude was cool and approachable. That foundation makes it so you can go to those larger venues.
UG Digital Mag: The beauty is that you can always take it back because of your personality. Many of the greats do arenas, but they can always take it back to the Improv. People are comfortable with them, and you as well. That’s why people love you because you are always personal with them.
Rodney Perry: You know what it is? It’s like going home. You’ll eventually move out of your mom and dad’s house, and you’ll leave your parents to build your own home, but there’s still a familiarity with going home. The comedy club is like going home, especially with Cleveland. It’s so much history there. I was there like three years ago, and I was doing The Black Tour. With every city I went to, I would learn a little black history, and being in Cleveland, I learned the first black-owned McDonald’s was there. The McDonald's people wouldn't allow black people to franchise, and y'all in Cleveland boycotted McDonald's. That's a little piece of history that most don't know. But, the dope thing about being at a club is I'm there Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I get to go to Mike the Hatter and get me a fly brim. I get to go to the soul food spot. I get to be in the community and I Love that. That's the beautiful part about playing comedy clubs.
UG Digital Mag: I love the fact that you know the city and what we have going on. How is it for you to be back here, considering how much the city has changed in the past three years? Now, there's multiple casinos, and Lebron is back of course.
Rodney Perry: I'm glad you brought that up. I'm sending a message out to Lebron. Come on through Bron-Bron...
UG Digital Mag: Now of course, aside from this tour, I know you have other things going on. What are some of the things that everyone can look out for?
Rodney Perry: Well of course we're on tour, and it's called the Get Money Tour. I want to really clear up what anybody thinks. Get Money is a state of mind. It's not as much about me as it seems. A lot of us, like last year my tour was The Hardest Working Man in Comedy. What I realized was I was working harder than I ever had in my life to achieve the same goal. So I said lets not work as hard. Let's work smarter and get this money. So that's through financial literacy, and that's by teaching people how to be develop their own businesses, be entrepreneurs and take care of themselves. That's the type of ideas we're putting out there this year. Of course the tour is out, I'm doing some things with Bounce TV, and a show that I'm possibly in the runnings for with ABC, and I'm starting to create some shows. I have an improv workshop that I've been doing for the past three years here in Atlanta. Now I’m going to take that to television. Look for a reality type show with me at the center of it coming soon.
UG Digital Mag: I think it's great that you’re getting involved in reality television and it'll be something positive that gives back to those looking to do this as a career. It's giving back and helping people in the same way that people have helped you along the way. What advice do you offer to that up and coming comic? A lot of them will be at your show.
Rodney Perry: That's a great question. My first piece of advice is find what you love and do that, whether that’s acting, comedy, or entrepreneurship. Find what you love and do that. The second piece of it is when it gets tough, don't quit. What happens is you find out that it's never what you thought it was going to be. When you reach that point you just can't quit. The only way you lose the game is to give up.
UG Digital Mag: I'm living proof of that. I left a career to launch this magazine, and to say things didn't get hairy and difficult would be a lie. In retrospect, it's the best thing I could have done. I finally opted to be happy and do what I wanted. I know that's what you're doing and pushing and that's why we follow you so tough and love you for all you do. What is the one thing we can look for in your show this week?
Rodney Perry: Look forward to laughing harder than you have in three years. Some people just don't know. When they come they say "I didn't know". It's ok. Matter of fact, let me stop everybody right now. You don't have to do no ab work this week. Come to the show and I got your ab work!