Don’t let the new look fool you. Comedian Lavell Crawford may have lost some weight, but the jokes are bigger than ever! Without question, Lavell Crawford is one the funniest comics in the game. He has performed on NBC’s hit reality series “Last Comic Standing” on his own half-hour stand up special, “Comedy Central Presents: Lavell Crawford "Shaquille O'Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam,” “Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam” on HBO, “Showtime at the Apollo,” “Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment,” and many other comedy tours across the country.
As an actor, he has appeared on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, he played Huell Babineaux in Breaking Bad, and its spin-off Better Call Saul. He also played the role of Gus Patch in the Netflix original movie The Ridiculous 6.
We caught up with Lavell to talk about how decided to change his whole lifestyle, his top 5 MC’s, and his latest Showtime stand-up special New Look, Same Funny.
AllHipHop: When did you know that you wanted to be a comedian?
Lavell Crawford: I think I always been funny man you know, just joking around and being clever. Being a chunky kid, I could fight alright but it was better to be funny. If I wasn’t grabbing you, tackling you to the ground, or sitting on you, I wouldn’t win in the fight, so I had to come up with somebody else.
I started listening to Richard Pryor on his albums and I just thought he was great. He was so funny and painted pictures in your head. I was like 12 years old and I was I was getting the jokes even with the all the profanity. I thought it was just hilarious man. Then I saw Sinbad when I was in college and the brother was so funny. I told him, “I think I want to be a comedian.” The world is so small because like 15 years ago, we met in Montreal at s Comedy Festival and I told him about how I met him at my college Missouri Western in St. Joseph, Missouri.
AllHipHop: Now Missouri and the St. Louis area is known for producing great comics. What is it about St. Louis that makes yall so funny?
Lavell Crawford: Yeah, we had some all-time greats like Redd Foxx, Cedric The Entertainer, Joe Torry, and Guy Torry. When you come from a place that’s hard, you gotta go hard. It’s the show me state for real! You go hard or go home. That’s the mentality that makes us funny. There are so many funny people and so many talented folks there, but they got too much of a damn ego. They think that St. Louis is biggest city in the world but it ain't but about 48 square miles.
AllHipHop: Since you dropped the weight, has your comedy changed?
Lavell Crawford: I mean, the thing about me is my dynamics of comedy never changed. I joked about being a big guy because you know, the elephant was in the room. But I never relied on it to be my go-to. You know, I think I was the comedian first, fat dude second. I always found ways to tell great stories. Now, I can tell until the front side of it when I was fat, and I can tell the flip side when I'm smaller and all the things I went through. I found all the aspects of the funny to collaborate it into a great show. Because there are some fat comedians out there that aint funny worth s**t.
AllHipHop: Do you think it’s more challenging now to do comedy in this PC, cancel culture? What's your thoughts on that? Black Twitter will cancel your ass quick?
Lavell Crawford: Well, basically, I don't follow rules. If you can’t handle it, then excuse my French, f**k you. If you try to follow rules you need to get out of the game. This “I need a hug” generation wants you to be weak minded. Let me tell you this: I appreciate my bullies. Bullies inspired me to get my shit together, study harder to get out of that grade, made me dress better, look better. Everybody got feelings, even Donald Trump. Nothing and nobody should be safe.
AllHipHop: Would you say that true comedy is about pushing boundaries?
Lavell Crawford: If I experienced it, I should be able to talk about it. You know that's what makes it funny and that's where the risk is and the reward.
AllHipHop: How did you connect with Showtime?
Lavell Crawford: It was crazy because we first was trying to get with Netflix. If I could ever speak with Monique, who I admire, I would say go to whatever door is open. Maybe because they already had big celebrity comics, they really wasn’t feeling me. They were trying to, you know, trying to keep me on the outside, you know? So, we found another door and Showtime was sitting there, eating popcorn, watching the movie, and ready to roll. I always tell people, “Go for those who give you love not to those who think they doing you a favor.” Because you are bringing a product.
AllHipHop: I saw you online talking about who’s funny and who's not. Some comedians get upset with you namely Tony Rock. We are some of your favorites today?
Lavell Crawford: HAHA! That was funny. You know man, I'm a connoisseur of comedy, so I watch everybody but not everybody is funny. Rock was upset with me on that one. I still think that the ones who go out there and are not afraid, are the best performers today. I mean, I still like Bill Burr who’s hilarious. I don’t like gimmick comics. Mike Epps is funny. Especially when he’s keeping it raw. There are some other younger comics out there that are going to be great when they stop being so cosmetic. They gotta stop trying to be successful and stop caring about what everybody else thinks. Comedy is not a people pleasing business. I really like Ryan Davis and Karlous Miller too.
AllHipHop: Here’s my last question: Who’s your favorite MC’s?
Lavell Crawford: Damn, that’s a tough! Here are my favorites: Rakim, Biggie, Ice Cube, Tupac, Too Short, and The Lost Boyz. That’s the damn best list ever!