The evolution of Black comedy has evolved from its early days. But before there was Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, DL Hughley, Chris Rock and a host of others, there was J. Anthony Brown.
Brown, a North Carolina native, began his career by chance in 1972 after relocating to Atlanta. He was originally pursuing a career as a clothing designer when $316 short of tuition money, he visited a local club and entered a gong show contest. The one time tailor was asked back to the venue, and later transformed it into a city hot spot as word of his natural wit traveled quickly.
Since then he accomplished many things including a weekly series on the WB Network, a nightly show on BET, two syndicated radio shows, movies and a few commercials even, and is definitely on pace into mainstream consciousness. A staple on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show for over eight years now, the voice that wakes up millions of radio listeners in over 195 markets now has a face to go with. Read up on funnyman, J. Anthony Brown and the things this veteran is up to.
BallerStatus.com: I see you got a new clothing line jumping off. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
J Anthony Brown: The new clothing line… it’s called the J. Anthony Brown Collection by Aldon Ridge. It’s something I always wanted to do. I mean, I started out to be a fashion designer and got sidetracked by being a comedian. I was always around fashion and stuff like that. I designed a lot of my own clothes and had somebody make them. It’s been a love of mine for a long time, and I’m pretty fashion conscious.
BallerStatus.com: So will it be all casual wear?
J Anthony Brown: All casual wear, but by the middle of next year, we’ll have suits, shirts, ties, hats, everything. And the good thing about it is that it’s going to be pocket friendly and big man friendly. A lot of our sizes go up to 8X. There’s a show coming up called “Batman,” and it stands for big and tall. It caters to all the shops around the country that cater to Big and Tall men. It’s not to take anything away from other people, but we want to add style and comfort into the big man’s world. [The whole thing] is a learning process because I was never in that part of the business. Even in terms of the concept, it takes a long time to get it in the stores. I’m happy to be in that.
Some of the stuff that I do goes to a foundation that I have for diabetes. I’m a type II diabetic, and I raise money to send kids to diabetes camp. Some of the programs that they have for children are not geared towards African American children. They don’t even know that there is a camp. Parents don’t know they can send their kids, and they can go swimming and horse back riding, etc. The best part about it is that all the kids there have diabetes, so when you test your blood sugar, it’s nobody sitting there making fun of you. There’s a lot of encouragement. I found out I had it when I was an adult, but there’s kids that find out when they’re nine, ten, and eleven. It’s a disease that you can live with, and you can function, but it’s good to be around other kids that have it though. I want to try to send as many kids as I can to this camp. Plus, there’s so many families stricken by this disease, and they may lose a limb, in terms of amputation, and it’s not a joke. They don’t have money to get the prosthetics, so you might see Uncle Joe walking around with one foot, because it’s expensive. Diabetes affects so many parts of your body: your eyesight, kidneys, blood vessels, your lungs, and it’s a disease that a lot of people have and don’t go get tested for. That’s what I’m doing.
BallerStatus.com: That’s definitely good, what you’re doing. I work in a hospital on the side, and I see a lot of children and adults who have diabetes, and it’s sad when you see the effects.
J Anthony Brown: I mean, trust me. I’m not Mr. Hercules and Mr. Fit. But since getting involved, I’ve learned so many things about managing the disease and how we can control it by changing the way we eat and changing our attitudes. You can’t have that hot salty ham sandwich that you always wanted. We never took this disease seriously. It’s always somebody in the family that had “SUGAR,” but they was in the kitchen making pound cake every night. So I know I can’t eat the way I used to. I have to get up and exercise. It keeps your blood pressure down if you get up and exercise and build muscle tissue in certain parts of the body. I’m trying to set an example by changing by habits.
BallerStatus.com: So for someone who wanted to get their child involved, or get themselves involved, what is the process?
J Anthony Brown: I have a website, and what I want to do is send as many kids as I can to the camp. The phrase “WatchOutDehNow” is an indian phrase. We’re putting together “Camp WatchOutDehNow,” so we can send kids to camp across the country. If you want to get involved, or even make a donation, the information is on the website. If you contact us, write a letter, someone will get back to you. Even if you work for a company that makes prosthetics or you want to donate a limb. As gross as it sounds, if you are stricken by this, then you know the importance. We have companies that give us testing equipment. Sometimes, kids lose limbs, and this helps them live a better life. Some of that stuff is very expensive. Sure, these companies sell it, but they give it away too. Everybody knows somebody with diabetes.
BallerStatus.com: Now you just got off of hosting a season of BET’s “Comic View.”
J Anthony Brown: I hosted for two seasons, and it allowed me to take a different avenue. The things I did on the show were things they did not do until I came aboard.
BallerStatus.com: Not only did you bring a little life back into the show, but you also got a lot of people to perform on the show that normally would not have been there.
J Anthony Brown: Right, and I take credit for that, but I thank BET for allowing me to do that, because it brought an older audience. It was a lot of fun, I had a great time. I’ve always been a fan of Benny Hill. To bring that type of comedy where you were doing skits, not so much a monologue, but to the point where you never knew what I would do when I came out.
BallerStatus.com: Did you ever consider hosting again for another season?
J Anthony Brown: Well, you can only do as many as they allow you to do. That was cool, but I’m in the process of putting something together to do that type of comedy on my own.
BallerStatus.com: You want to have your own variety show and comedy showcase. How close are you to making that a reality?
J Anthony Brown: I put together a variety type show, and I’ve been pitching it to different networks. Like, I pitched it to BET, TV-One, and it’s a pretty good response. It’s just a process.
BallerStatus.com: You’ve talked about doing album called J Anthony Brown Bootlegs Himself. What’s the status on that?
J Anthony Brown: That’s completed, and it’s on the website right now for sale, and I’m in the process of revamping the site. All the merchandise I sell (hot sauce, CDs & tapes, t-shirts, books) goes towards the foundation. If you can’t do a donation, you can buy something, and know that your purchase goes toward sending a child to camp.
BallerStatus.com: You recently were in “Mr. 3000” with Bernie Mac. Are there anymore movie roles coming up for you?
J Anthony Brown: Yes. Bruce Bruce and I have a scene in the newest “XXX” movie with Ice Cube. I’m working on a sitcom with Walter Latham. That’s pretty much it, but the most important thing for me is to get up and do [the Tom Joyner Morning Show]. I do the show from L.A., so when I go to work, it’s three o’clock in the morning, but I like doing it.
BallerStatus.com: When are we going to see you out on a new stand-up comedy tour?
J Anthony Brown: There’s several on the table, so you will definitely see me on the road. I’m also working on a one-man show, where I go out by myself and murder the hits and do the church announcements, plus stand-up.
BallerStatus.com: Any final comments at all?
J Anthony Brown: That’s pretty much it. Just check out the site, and help me send these kids to camp. That’s my passion. We’re running a special where you buy three bottles of hot sauce, and it’s very delicious.
BallerStatus.com: I’m going to get that hot sauce man.
J Anthony Brown: The hot sauce is off the hook man, it ain’t nothing to play with, and it’s a good way to buy a gift and help a cause.
For more info on J Anthony Brown and his foundation, be sure to visit WatchOutDehNow.com