Published on March 5th, 2016 | by Jae Monique0
The Rise of The Mike Bend Show-Interview
Mike Bend has been casted in numerous theater productions, co-starred in the film Past Due, and started his own sketch comedy series called “The Mike Bend Show.” He is known for guest appearances on both “The Rickey Smiley Show” and “Rickey Smiley For Real.”
In an interview with The Hype Magazine, Mike Bend shared his journey to creating “The Mike Bend Show”, the main characters, and choosing the cast.
Jae Monique: You co-starred in a Sundance winning film “Past Due” and casted in numerous productions. Can you tell me about that?
Mike Bend: “Past Due” was a movie I auditioned for. It was directed and produced by Zach Collins which at one time was my manager and due to conflict of interest we had to part ways. That was supposed to be a one-day role for me and from that one-day role, it turned into being a co-star of the movie. It really gave me the opportunity to shine and move forward.
JM: You made notable appearances on “The Rick Smiley Show” and “Rickey Smiley “For Real”. Tell me about that. How did that get started?
Bend: When I was looking for a home in Atlanta, my aunt was a real estate agent at the time and the lady she was working under…she saw me acting a fool, she ended up seeing my stuff and she introduced me to her brother. Her brother actually wrote me into the part so I never really auditioned. That was really like a freaky, phenomenal blessing. I went out on stage and when the Rickey Smiley reality show came around, they called me back again to make a guest appearance on the show…I guess I did my thing enough to where they called me back.
JM: You started your own series called “The Mike Bend Show”, a variety sketch comedy show that simulates real world topics and current events. How did you come up with the show?
Bend: There was a guy by the name of Leonard; he’s from South Carolina. All those characters used to be voices. I used to do a lot of radio voice personalities and it would be like funny commercials and he was like ‘man you should bring those voices to life.’ I took his advice and I did. If I ever had to give a shout out to somebody, it would be Leonard since he suggested that I do that. I started writing myself. A lot of times, I would go on different sets and people wanted me to be this and wanted me to be that. I get to be myself on the stages and these sets. I got a cast that was just as crazy as my behind and we did it. We got standing ovations, we got a lot of love. I been doing it going on 2 ½ years.
JM: How did you choose the cast members for the show? What type of people were you looking for?
Bend: I had a casting director, but at the end of the day he works for me so I made the final say. I like the underdog… I had a couple of guys who never acted before. If you look at them now, they’re getting speaking roles, they’re getting headline deals and stuff like that. I groomed a lot of those guys. It makes me proud to see them booking shows.
JM: Tell me about the main characters.
Bend: Medi is a spinoff of my grandmother and me. Medi is sassy, she’s going to tell you how she feels, don’t hold no punches. She walks around like ‘I’m not better than you, but I’m bougie. I don’t want no bologna sandwich.‘ She still feels that she’s young. Sugar Dick Rickey is a spin off from when I grew up my auntie Cynthia and Wanda. They were always listening to Climax, Rick James, Prince and that whole era. I really liked that Era of music so Rick James was a spin-off of that plus I love women, I really love women so that’s where Rick James comes from. It’s 2016, but he’s still wearing red leather pants.
JM: Medi Bruer. Is she like Tyler Perry’s Madea?
Bend: Something like that. I used to work at a nursing home when I was in 11th grade. There was an older lady named Medi Bruer and she was a sweet old lady, but she was diabetic. The orderly said ‘whatever you do, don’t give her no candy because she’s diabetic.’ So Medi Bruer would come downstairs and ask for candy and I said ‘no Miss Bruer you can’t have candy.’ She used to cuss my a** out and say ‘go to hell.’ I thought it was so funny so I named the character after her.
JM: How is your show similar to Tyler Perry’s Madea, “In living Color” and Dave Chappelle and what way is it different?
Bend: It’s similar to Tyler Perry because I do it on stage and I have an older woman character. It’s similar to “In Living Color” because I play multiple characters and I have a cast that is sketch comedy. Tyler Perry is more drama, I’m more like Madea and Mr. Brown, but more of a comedic relief. My whole show is comedy. I don’t really do a lot of drama in my show. I’m more like Carol Burnet; her whole cast was all comics. Dave Chappelle because I film some sketches and I play them on video screen.
Bend: Bishop Shoulder Lean—I’ve been in probably five different denominations. I’ve been in Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist, Non-denomination. We started off Seventh Day Adventist so I got a feel for all these different preachers and I’m not saying all preachers are crooked, but I got a chance to see my share of crooked preachers. Sometimes I say some stuff to really make you think, but it’s just in a funny way. My last character Rufus is named after my grandfather, his name was Rufus Jones. Rufus would always come home drunk, smoking cigarettes, and just talking and talking and talking. Him and the old guys would stand on the corner all day and just drink, talk s***…He gives advice but his advice is always messed up.
JM: What process to do use to develop your comedy material?
Bend: I write everything down. I usually just go in my office and play music. I turn on old YouTube of Sanford and Son…I’ll watch a lot of George Jefferson and a lot of the old sitcoms. When I feel the era of that, I start writing. It’s like my hand starts moving and I don’t know where some of the crazy ideas come from, it just comes to me. It’s spiritual.
JM: You have shows coming up. Tell me about that.
Bend: I have a show May 6th in Atlanta. I have some out of town shows we’re working on as well.
JM: You have a busy schedule. How do handle all of that?
Bend: A lot of proper planning and enjoying the ride on the way up. Just enjoying what I’m doing. I used to stress a lot, but now I’m just enjoying what I’m doing.
JM: Do you plan on having any spin-offs from “The Mike Bend Show?”
Bend: I have a TV sitcom I wrote called “Side by Side.’ I have another movie I’ve written called “Preachers on a Mission”. I have multiple things that I’ve already written. I’m working on another sitcom right now where it’s like Mike Bend and All of His Friends.
JM: Would you consider yourself a writer first then a comedian or a comedian first then a writer?
Bend: I would consider myself a comedic actor that can write and produce.
Mike Bend was born in Nashville, Tennessee and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He started his career as an event producer and nightlife orchestrater in Jacksonville, FL where he was well-known for his NFL events. With the support system of friends and family and his growing passion for the screen and stage, Bend decided to venture into stand-up comedy and acting.