Red Grant is a multi-faceted business man, who is enjoying success in various fields of entertainment including acting and producing DVDs, TV shows and films. But for this young talent, it is comedy that serves as the engine, keeping each of his outside ventures going… and comedy is where he got his start.
The Washington, DC, native discovered comedy when his dreams of becoming a professional football player disappeared after he was kicked out of school for fighting. But he rebounded, and it was his friends who helped him see the light. “I been funny all my life, but I didn’t think I was stand-up comedian funny,” Grant recalls of his first step into comedy. “Evidently, my partners thought I was that funny, so they kept pushing me like, ‘Man, you need to tell jokes.’ They kept pushing me, so I gave in and I swear to you, six months later I was on Def Comedy Jam. I guess they saw it before I saw it.”
Luckily his friends saw his talent, because at 19, he didn’t know what he wanted to do, but comedy shaped into giving the comedian a lasting career, which has been quite lucrative for him.
BallerStatus.com had a nice chat with the rising comedy star to speak on his beginnings in the comedy game, how it’s turned into more than just stand-up and his struggles along the way. But no matter how successful he becomes, Red Grant says comedy is his first love and will always be the engine to his success.
BallerStatus.com: How many years have you been in the game?
Red Grant: For 10 years now, since I was 19.
BallerStatus.com: You’ve been killing it in the comedy world, why is it that Red Grant has been able to garner the success you have, being that there’s a lot of competition within your field?
Red Grant: Because it’s not as much competition as people think. It’s only a few cats that really doing it right now, other than like the ones who are already on…
BallerStatus.com: Right, but there’s lot of up-and-coming dudes who are struggling, so what is it that has helped you to jump ahead and do the things you’ve accomplished thus far?
Red Grant: I think it’s hard work. My work ethic is like a boxer’s work ethic — boxing for so many years that you know what it takes to really work in a gym. It’s the same thing when it comes to writing material, and staying on stage. I stay on stage, four or five times a week to keep my skills as sharp as they can possibly be. They say luck is a preparation to meet an opportunity and I just been lucky.
BallerStatus.com: I know that being a comedian is a hard road. I’ve read about numerous stories of comedians putting in work for years before getting a break. Tell us a little bit about your journey and some of the struggles you’ve faced along the way.
Red Grant: Man, anything you do in life, from doing this interview to me doing comedy, there’s gonna be some struggling. My struggle is basically… it’s kinda cool because I started when I was young, I didn’t get into this when I was in my 30s, you know what I mean? I started young when I was able to just go. My struggles started in DC, during the open mic nights to lying to people like I was really a comedian when I wasn’t, trying to get on Def Comedy Jam when I was 19 1/2 and finally getting on.
I was living on different people floors… it’s crazy. Me and a lot of other comedians that’s on now used to sleep on each other’s floors — Mike Epps, Dominique… a lot I used to hang with when we was all in the struggle. On that first Def Comedy Jam, we all used to share jokes and do a lot of stuff, you know? Before everybody started to pop.
That struggle of living in New York for three years, not having no food to eat and making $20 a show was rough. I mean, trying to save that $20 for rent money… that, being broke was a lot. So, this has all made me appreciate things that I have now. It’s not an easy journey. I tell people that want it that they gotta keep grinding and if it’s meant to be, you will make it. It’s a good struggle; it makes you tougher.
BallerStatus.com: I know another aspect of being a comedian is that you are on the road a lot. How do you deal with that? Being on the road so much and never being home.
Red Grant: I think it becomes fun to you though. It becomes second nature. It’s better than not being on the road. Some comedians don’t leave out of L.A. or leave out of New York or the cities they do comedy at. For us to be touring, traveling and making people laugh — you make 25,000 people laugh a weekend — it feels good. It’s a blessing. I wouldn’t complain at all because of the simple fact, it makes you appreciate when you was just doing 20 people. 20 to 5,000 people a night is pretty serious. I wouldn’t stop doing this if you paid me. It’s fun now, it’s past the point of being a job.
If any comedian tells you it’s hard to be on the road, they lying to you. They is playing that acting role. It’s fun to be on the road, doing what you love to do and seeing the world, instead of staying in your city and doing nothing.
BallerStatus.com: You mentioned going from 20 to 5,000 people. That’s got to be nerve racking. Was there one show that you can remember where you stepped on stage and was blown away with how many people were in the audience?
Red Grant: To be honest, I still go and do 20 people sometimes just because if you can make 20 people laugh, you can make 5,000 people laugh. It’s harder to make a small number laugh than more people. I still go to the Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory when I’m in L.A. to sharpen my skills. Just those few people because those few people will really let you know if your jokes work or not. There hasn’t really been a transition, it’s the same to me — doing 20 or 5,000 or more people. The laughter might be more with more people, but it’s still original laugh.
It’s hard to make a few people laugh, so if I can do that, I can make thousands of people laugh. I practice on people though. I’m not a clown, going around telling jokes, but when I get my opportunities to tell a joke, I do it.
BallerStatus.com: I think for a comedian is when you cannot make people laugh. Was there a night for you where, for the life of you, you couldn’t make the people laugh?
Red Grant: Man, I’m pretty sure there’s been many nights that I didn’t make people laugh because if you’re a comedian you’re always testing new jokes and every joke ain’t gonna work. Of course, there’s gonna be nights where some of your jokes ain’t working, but when it becomes a night where nobody laughs at nothing, that’s a bad night. That’s a terrible night. I haven’t had too many of those, but when I did have them, it was more of when I first got into the game where’d they look at you and be like, “What is this dude talking about?” That makes you stronger though.
BallerStatus.com: You said you got into the game when you were 19, but before that, was this something you always dreamed of doing?
Red Grant: Nah, I wanted to be a professional football player. To be honest with you, I got put out of school for fighting. After that, I came home… I been funny all my life, but I didn’t think I was stand-up comedian funny. Evidently, my partners thought I was that funny, so they kept pushing me like, “Man, you need to tell jokes.” They kept pushing me, so I gave in and I swear to you, six months later I was on Def Comedy Jam. I guess they saw it before I saw it.
BallerStatus.com: Yea, people usually see stuff you don’t even see in yourself.
Red Grant: Yea, I mean, I don’t even to this day believe that God gave me the opportunity to be on TV. The first time, it was like, “Oh damn, I’m on TV,” and it’s moved from that to movies and I’m still in shock. Even to this day, I’m still saying, “This is crazy.” To me, I wasn’t even supposed to be doing this. I thought I’d end up in the streets hustling or doing some crazy stuff. God showed me the way to be positive and do this.
BallerStatus.com: You mentioned the acting thing, but I understand you are a TV/film producer. You have credits for that, so tell me about that.
Red Grant: I got a company called MOVIEOS.net. In 1999, there was the first film outta my company for a half million dollars called “Family Reunion.” It was straight to DVD and did well. It sold 500,000 copies. From there, I got phone calls from BET to produce television shows with them. I produced a couple hits shows for them like 21 Questions for Spring Bling and other stuff. It became second nature from that. I didn’t wanna wait for Hollywood, so I did this myself.
BallerStatus.com: we’ve talked about the different sides of the business you’re involved in, so what’s your favorite? I mean, is comedy still number 1 in your heart?
Red Grant: Yea, I gotta say comedy is my favorite. It’s like golf, you know what I mean? It’s just you and the people. All of it, I like, but comedy started it and it’s the engine. I can’t stop doing comedy.
BallerStatus.com: what else is on your plate right now?
Red Grant: I’m doing a new movie right now with Ice Cube called “First Sunday.” Katt Williams is in it, so is Tracy Morgan. Also, we got movie coming out with Katt called “Pimp Chronicles Part II.” A bunch of other projects too, shows, DVDs and more. But people can keep up with me on RedGrant.com and Myspace.com/RedGrantComedy.