Written by | Ray Cornelius
Comedian, actor and all-around “funny man” Rodney Perry is back for a second season as host of Bounce TV’s popular comedy series, Off the Chain. The former sidekick of The Mo’Nique Show is having the time of this life as he scours the country looking for the next comedic star. Having been in the game for a minute, Perry knows “cutting edge” talent when he hears it and is excited about the new breed of comics he is bringing to the show, including the female comediennes that he says, “ripped it!”
Recently, I caught up with Perry to discuss the season’s new additions. He also sounds off on Saturday Night Lives’ recent decision to hire three African-American female comediennes, and gives his two cents about who should really play Richard Pryor in the upcoming biopic about the comedic legend.
Check it out below:
RC: What new things can ‘Off the Chain’ fans look forward to in this second season?
RP: This season, I sat down with producers of the show and we pow-wowed about what we could do differently. So, we’ve added a wild card round to the fourth segment of each program that is different for every single show. We’ve also added an improv element where no one knows what is going to happen…I don’t know…the audience doesn’t know…even the comedians participating don’t really know because we are creating it in the moment. We’ve also added a sketch comedy element to the show where I play a variety of characters. So, we’ve really packed a lot into the 30-minutes and I’m really happy with the way this season turned out.
RC: What has the partnership been like with Bounce TV?
RP: It’s really been awesome. I’ve had an opportunity in my career to work with BET, TV One, UP, and a few other networks and the thing about Bounce TV is that it’s’ awesome to be on the ground floor. Sometimes, when working with other established networks, your ideas may or may not get heard. However, working with Bounce TV has been refreshing because they really value my opinion and have taken my advice on things and infused it into the show.
RC: Who are some of the stand out comedians to look for in this season?
RP: First of all, we had some incredible comedians to participate but there are a few that really stood out. This one guy, Marcus Harvey, is really a star in the making. Not only did he have an incredible set this season but he was one of the guys that we hired to write for me. (LOL) Another guy is Nate Jackson, who I remember as an opener for me when I was on the road in Seattle, almost a decade ago. To see him get his first television opportunity a decade later on my show is amazing. Ron G appears on the show as well, you may remember him from my stint on Who’s Got Jokes? He’s really taken his career to the next level. We have also put more female comediennes on this season more than any other comedy show. We put on about 12 shows and probably had about 10-12 female comics, which is unheard of in this business. Comics like Kiana Dancie and Vanessa Fraction totally “ripped it.”
RC: Speaking of female comics, Saturday Night Live recently added an African-American comedienne and two Black female writers to its staff. Do you think this will this make a difference?
RP: First of all, shout out to Leslie Jones, she is a friend of mine and one of the ladies who got hired. I am excited about those individuals getting hired but let me just keep it real. We as African-Americans have always gone out of our way to accommodate and attempt to crossover to white audience while our white counterparts have never tried to crossover. Only under the firestorm of criticism did the “powers that be” at SNL said, “Yo maybe we should hire some African-American females.” Had no one ever said anything or asked the question, it wouldn’t have happened. So, will things change? Hopefully, because the ladies they have picked up are very talented and talent regardless of race, creed or color, always rises to the top.
RC: Who would you like to work with in the future?
RP: I would like to work with my contemporaries. Remember back in the day when you had films like Let’s Do It Again with Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier and a smorgasbord of other actors that was hot at the time? Well, I would love to replicate a similar project featuring a DeRay Davis and Kevin Hart or JB Smoove or Lunelle. All of us in a comedic film that speaks to our generation would be dope.
RC: Glad you mentioned films; reportedly Lee Daniels is directing the Richard Pryor biopic that has been floating around Hollywood for quite some time now. If you could, who would you cast as Pryor in the film?
RP: I actually got a chance to watch Marlon Wayans and on the real, this dude was really good. He totally embodied Pryor. Mike Epps is another favorite that I had a chance to watch too. He really feels like how Richard felt to me comically and as a human being. But here’s the thing, it’s easy to capture the comedy but the pain that was Richard Pryor is going to be the biggest challenge. I honestly think it would be a better to cast a good actor versus a good comedian.
RC: If you could go back and talk to 18-year-old Rodney Perry, what advice would you give him?
RP: I would tell the 18-year-old Rodney Perry to stay the course. I wouldn’t have him do anything differently. Just get ready, buckle your seat belt and stay the course.
Season 2 of Bounce TV’s Off the Chain airs TONIGHT at 9 p.m. EST.
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