Published on May 27th, 2020 | by Percy Crawford0
Laughter is Essential: One-On-One With Comedian Lavell Crawford:
St. Louis, Missouri has produced some of the funniest men on earth. It’s the home of legendary comics such as, Redd Foxx, Cedric The Entertainer and Joe and Guy Torry. More recent, Lavell Crawford who is cementing his legacy amongst the best. A career which got its kickstart on BET’s ComicView, Crawford quickly manifested a stand-up career into multiple movie and sitcom roles and appearances. He recorded his comedy special, “Lavell Crawford: Can a Brother Get Some Love,” in his hometown of St. Louis. After a drastic weight loss, Crawford filmed a stand-up special called, “New Look Same Funny.” With over 30 movie and sitcom appearances under his belt, Crawford’s diversity makes him a hot commodity; being funny as hell helps too.
I caught up with the comedic legend to get his thoughts on several topics including, Covid-19, his weight loss and much more!
We actually share a name, my name is Percy Lovell Crawford; different spelling, but that’s it. How are you, my man?
Lavell Crawford: That’s wassup. Shit, I’m out. I’m done with quarantine. I’m in Huntsville, Alabama right now. They done started comedy again. They are social distancing the tables and everybody working got masks on, and people coming in there and laughing so hard they pulling their masks down.
The world needs laughter during times like this.
Lavell Crawford: Who you telling, man. comedy is very essential. It’s like I was saying, it’s not an ego after a while. God gave me a gift and a purpose. I thought he was going to wait forever, but I was so happy that these comics seen fit to start opening these doors again, man. I’m glad to be back hittin it, man. We had to do smaller numbers, but sometimes you gotta grin and bear it. It’s better than waiting on that damn stimulus check.
Is it easier to communicate with the smaller more intimate crowds?
Lavell Crawford: Ah man, they ain’t never been small to me because when a comedian is able to get paid to do what he want, it’s a blessing and a half you understand. I tell people all the time, it’s a glorious blessing that God gave me to where, I don’t made a lot of money just standing on that stage acting a fool and making funnies out of the things I feel and telling some truths in it too. There are a lot of people who are out here funny, but they don’t be blessed to do the things that I do and become a so-called star, or legend or some people call me a GOAT or whatever. I just say I’m blessed, man.
I have always thought comedy is one of the toughest jobs because you get on stage with a mic and hope to make people laugh. Do you still get nervous before your sets, or are you past that?
Lavell Crawford: Man, the only thing I be nervous about is my money and if nobody gonna be there, man. That’s the only thing I worry about. You know you get those energies of anticipation, but it’s never nervousness like I’m not going to do well. It’s just anticipation you know what I’m saying. It’s like an airplane pilot that’s been flying for 30-years, that morning when he get up, he’s thanking God, but it’s like, “Man, I gotta get up in this air.” Once he takes off it’s just natural. But the whole thing now with coming off lockdown, being a comedian is a muscle though, man. Because I’ma keep it real with anybody, it’s almost like working out. If you don’t workout on a regular and you don’t have a place to workout on the stage for me, but I know they closed down these gyms. I know a lot of people fell out on that treadmill when they were able to get back in the gym. It’s just like comedy. I’m a juggernaut. I fight through the pain, and I don’t have no pain when I’m on that stage, but when I get off, man I feel a little drained now. Before when I was doing it every week, my chops were good, and comedy was second nature.
But when you take all these weeks off… that’s why when people ask me about Eddie Murphy and him coming back, I’m like, “Man, he really going to have to go hard in the comedy clubs,” if he wants to get back to the point where he’s Eddie Murphy. Is he going to be Eddie Murphy the star or Eddie Murphy the comedian? That comedy, you putting your energy out and expecting energy back. Now we got this thing where you gotta make sure… we’re in this politically correct world and this old cancel culture where, you can’t say this, you’re going to offend this. I don’t worry about those things. They come the way they come. The media be trippin. I’m going to give you a dose of real reality. I’ma put all bible text on yo ass. I’m going to bust you in your head because your lil bullshit lil circle of things you trying to believe in is all fake just like I believe this situation we’re in. I think it’s all about a hidden agenda, but I can’t say that because it ain’t nothing I’m supposed to say.
I did a podcast with my man, Sam out of New York and we discussed that very topic. I don’t know how Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Lenny Bruce and guys like that would have made it during today’s times in this politically correct climate. It’s gotta be tough.
Lavell Crawford: Ah man, it’s insane because it’s a ploy on all freedoms. They change rules. I fly a lot and when you go to the airport, anytime there is some kind of activity with the country, they change the rules at the airport. That’s how America is becoming. Everybody is getting on this Twitter thing and you can’t say nothing about dogs, be careful what you say about monkey’s, be careful what you say about a fried egg (laughing). “Ah man, my uncle ate a fried egg and he died from eating a fried egg.” You don’t know what you can get away with. So, the thing about it is, I always tell people, I believe in God, so I pray before I go up there. I just stay to course.
If you live it and believe it, just like the President. He believe who he was. He said he gonna make America great again. I don’t know what road he going down, but he still believe in himself. You gotta believe in yourself. You gotta believe. They showed the Michael Jordan, “The Last Dance.” They show Michael Jordan, he was great. A couple of people are saying, “He wasn’t that great. When he was playing, it was easy.” I’m like, shit, I watched them games. It didn’t look easy to me. I think he believes in himself. That’s the only thing I can say about this cancel culture and social media in general. If you stay off of there and don’t worry about it. I had a lil bout with it with media interviews. That’s why I kind of backed away from em. People would ask me questions and my beliefs, and you can’t talk freely no more about things. I don’t think you would, but some people will change your words and make you feel like you some kind of monster. And then you have a million people, “Wait a minute, he hates so and so.” So, I just stay to my course and I make it funny to where everybody can laugh. I’m all about my family and all about healing people through laughter and forgetting their troubles at least for 45-50 minutes.
And honestly, if you’ve been to a Lavell Crawford show, you should know what to expect. But there are some that go out and look to be offended and you can’t ever please those kinds of people.
Lavell Crawford: Every once in awhile you’ll have a new person maybe come with a friend. But the thing about it is, I’ve been doing it a very long time, and there are still people that come up to me, “This is my first time ever seeing you and I thought you were great.” And that makes me feel good that I get a new person come and see me and they really enjoyed the show. But you right, some people come to the show and get into this lil run. I’ve been places where I’m talking about something, and I can’t see my audience, and somebody will get up offended and be walking out the club. And I be like, “Man, I didn’t even know you were in here. How I’m supposed to know who you was?” They act like you a comedian and a psychic. But some people come to start trouble. Especially nowadays because everybody thinks that they are a news reporter, everybody think they are a columnist with their lil blogs. In this world, my savior been covering me so much all the way through my hardships and my greatness, they going to fall to the waste side. It’s like you said, anybody who have seen Lavell Crawford, they get it and they understand.
You predicated a lot of your comedy on your size and how much you enjoyed eating. Not that you wouldn’t have put your health first and lost the weight, but did you have any reservations about being accepted because your comedy style was based on your size?
Lavell Crawford: No not really. Honestly man, if I could’ve got on stage and not brought up my weight at all, I think I still would have been fine. But in this world where all are observing you and not using your second eye for creativity and all of your imagination. Where people judge you on how you look. With black people, we always say they judge because we’re black, fat people say, they judge because we’re fat or I’m not as muscular as this guy or I’m too skinny. Or I don’t look like the models or look like this. It’s always something people going to judge you on, so I do my best… you look at adults, they are the same children that you see staring at you.
When I was a lot bigger, I would see little kids staring at me and can’t take their eyes off me. And I be like, “Man, what is that?” And then their parents don’t never correct it. So, we got a whole bunch of people grow up with that mentality. I had large uncles. One of my uncles was a big massive guy. He was bigger than he was fat. But he was a big guy. It was normal to me, so I didn’t really have that issue. But as I grew up and became a young man, people would always go to that go-to of calling me names about the way I was built. And it stuck with me. You start having some feelings about it. Like I tell them though, I turned my calories into a salary. I changed all that and started bringing those jokes to life. The real powerful thing about that, the audience that needed me to be their voice, the larger people, how I dressed and my confidence… I wasn’t a, “No one loves me,” kind of guy. I was real in your face, “What you say, potna? Don’t come with that.” I was a man. And that’s how I always handled myself. So, when I got up there, I really didn’t even think I was that big. I could be as big as the building, but in my mind, I’m bad baby! I was blessed to marry a fine ass woman. I never changed my mold. I handled myself with style and grace, just like some rappers from Biggie, Heavy D to Chubb Rock. We come as men because big guys are always well loved. We are all well received once we come in because we are the life of the party. It’s like having the love of a big dog. He’s going to be jumping around and be wild, be lovable, keep the party going and keep you laughing. Once I get you on my side with the weight jokes, then I can come in with my intellectual and on the other side jokes.
But when I decided to lose weight, I did it not worrying about how I was going to be received. I did it because of health reasons of course. I had a child and I have two older children. I was blessed with children and a wife and I didn’t want to die on them just because I couldn’t give up high caloric or processed foods. Or not wanting to exercise or not wanting to fight against diabetes. That’s why I did it. but when it came to comedy, I’m always writing. I know how… you put me in different positions and different situations, I’ll find a joke. It’s just like right now with this whole lockdown thing, I came up with a whole run from all this. The more I get on the stage the more shit I’m gonna talk about. I always challenge myself. So, I was never afraid. I didn’t care. I know I could get as slim as a crackhead and I would have jokes about that. Health is wealth. We have watched too many of our large lovable comics die because they didn’t find a way to balance their lifestyle with their health. You gotta give yourself a chance to get there. I always say, I ain’t got my billion dollars yet, so I ain’t going nowhere. I’m still fighting, baby. Staying in the sauce. I’m getting better every day. I never had any reservations with that.
You are one funny ass dude and I have enjoyed your comedy for a long time and now they have given you more time to create, so I can’t wait to see your quarantined material.
Lavell Crawford: It’s a funny thing watching people out here. I said on stage, it’s just funny. I respect my black people, but black folks are funny because we’re germophobic anyway. Black folks have 3-4 masks on and rubber gloves, this the same negro that raw dog a girl every night (laughing).
Lavell Crawford: That nigga don’t wanna catch no Covid-19. I seen somebody come in there with masks on and be big as hell. I said, “Covid-19 is the last thing you need to worry about. You better lower your cholesterol.” Thank you for calling, Percy.Tweet