It’s currently taking the country by storm – and Boston shall be no exception. On Friday, November 16, Shaq’s All Star Comedy Jam will descend upon The Wilbur, bringing a night of explosive entertainment with it featuring some of the biggest names in comedy. The Boston Comedy Scene Examiner recently had the chance to chat with one of the tour’s hottest comedians, Finesse Mitchell, about life on the All Star Comedy Jam tour and breaking out of the Saturday Night Live mold.
“I just left Mount Ida College in Newton,” Mitchell told BCSE about a recent visit to Boston. “It’s in the witness protection program as a school…nobody can find that place. Woods, woods, woods…school!”
Mitchell, who has been performing stand-up for years, made his first television appearance in 1999 on BET’s Comic View and has been taking over the comedy world since. He joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2003, replacing Tracy Morgan, and quickly gained fame for his hilarious impressions and comedic acting skills.
“SNL was a weird story – it was just me out here in L.A., and I had done Conan O’Brien; back in the day there was a show, ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn’ – I don’t know if you remember that guy, he was before Craig Ferguson. So, my comedy bubble was really rising out here in L.A., I was just a comic, and we heard about Tracy Morgan leaving Saturday Night Live and they were looking for the new black guy – and that’s pretty much how the information went through the whole black-comedy world. Anyone who had really good managers and agents were like, ‘Yo, Tracy’s leaving and they’re looking for the new black guy!’ But you had every black comic trying to put a seven-minute tape together and get it out to SNL, and they picked my tape. I had this great bit back in the day called ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ and it was about how black people found out they had to read for two and a half hours when they went to see the karate movie because none of the commercials said it had subtitles, so I acted that whole scene, and Lorne Michaels and everyone fell in love with it. Next thing you know, I was on SNL – me and Keenan Thompson came on together.”
Touring with Shaq’s All Star Comedy Jam is something that Mitchell cites as the exact thing any comic would want to do, as it not only showcases his talent as a stand-up but allows him to get back to what he loves to do: tell jokes.
“This will be going into my second year. I’ve done a couple of shows at the beginning of this year, so this is my second round with them. I’m pretty excited, we start in New York on October 19, and we go all the way up until New Year’s Eve and finish off in Atlanta. It’s one of those things that comics love to do because everyone dreams of going on tour, with the sponsors and everything…you know, with Shaq making his brand known in the comedy game, putting out the DVDs – it’s really helping them out as individual comedians. For me, it’s great because I was on SNL, so it gives me a chance to reconnect with my urban fans. I’ve never looked at myself as an impressionist,” Mitchell notes, after citing Morgan Freeman and Andre 3000 as favorite impressions he’s done for SNL. “I’ve always looked at myself as a stand-up, a comedic stand-up. But it became apparent that if you wanted to be on the show, you’ve got to come up with some voices. So they would say, ‘Ok, we’ve got Hilary Swank coming on the show next week, and we want to reenact Hilary Swank with Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby. Finesse, you’re going to be Morgan Freeman. Go practice.’ That’s how I found out I could different voices. ‘Finesse, you’re going to be Andre 3000.’”
As if touring the country with one of the hottest comedy tours around wasn’t enough, Mitchell is poised to release a brand new comedy special as the tour winds down.
“I shot my special in June this year, in Atlanta, Georgia – my home town – called ‘One Man Monster’. ‘One Man Monster’. And it is hilarious, Angie. Right about now we’re strategically waiting to put it out, to kind of coincide with the tour. Like, right after the tour, the special comes out. I want everybody to go to FinesseMitchell.com and follow me on Twitter because when I say it’s dropping, I want everybody to check it out, download it, buy it, and make it successful because it’s really a good feeling to be back in the stand-up game and be doing so well. I was pretty good at it before I started all this acting stuff.”
Shaq’s All Star Comedy Jam is going to be an insanely entertaining night of music and comedy and will include Mitchell along with tour host Gary Owen (fresh off his co-starring role in the blockbuster hit “Think like a Man”) as well as Capone (“The Gangsta of Comedy”), and Tony Roberts, known as “The Comedians Comedian”.
Stay tuned as the Boston Comedy Scene Examiner brings you more exclusive interviews with the stars of Shaq’s All Star Comedy Jam. Tickets for the November 16 show at The Wilbur are on sale now.
The Wilbur and Bill Blumenreich present Shaq’s All Star Comedy Jam
November 16th 2012 at 7:00pm
The Wilbur Theatre is located at 246 Tremont St. in Boston’s Historic Theatre District