Bill Bellamy coming to Fat Fish BlueWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Anybody who was around when “Def Comedy Jam” exploded in the early ’90s knows all about Bill Bellamy. The comic who introduced the phrase “booty call” to the nation made a huge impact in the early days of Russell Simmons’ comic brainchild.
More than two decades later, Bellamy continues to make waves through new comedy specials and a starring role on the syndicated comedy “Mr. Box Office.” In an interview with Toledo Free Press Star, though, Bellamy said that through it all, there is no thrill quite like being up onstage.
“It’s still unpredictable, it’s fun, it’s fulfilling. I write a lot, I read a lot, it’s an outlet for me to be in touch with my fans — you’re not waiting for the movie to come out, or the TV show. I can go out and perform for everybody, and they get to meet me, up close and personal,” he said.
“Which is kind of cool, because I grew up with a lot of people, you know? In 20 years, I have MTV fans, ‘Fastlane’ fans, ‘How to Be a Player’ fans, ‘Love Jones,’ ‘Any Given Sunday.’ So, I have people who got on the Bill Bellamy train at different places, so I’m excited to go out and mingle with the people, and to be able to keep my brand going — and also develop new fans.”
Bellamy will get to connect to the Glass City area live and in person from June 20-22, when he will appear at the Funny Bone at Fat Fish Blue in Perrysburg.
“I do it the way I want to do it,” Bellamy said of his current approach to stand-up. “I don’t go out every weekend, where it becomes like this big laborious situation. I do it for the love, I do it for — now I have all the momentum. I have a TV show, I have two comedy specials right now that are hitting really hard on Showtime.
“So, I mean, people want to see you. So what do you do? When you get hot, you gotta go strike while the iron’s hot.”
But then, the iron has remained hot for the New Jersey native pretty consistently for the past 25 years, considering all the movies and shows he’s appeared on. But his time on “Def Comedy” still seems to have resonated the longest with fans.
“What I miss about that time was just America’s curiosity about, what was this urban comedy thing going on, and why was this so funny, and so edgy, and so groundbreaking? Which it was at the time,” Bellamy said. “You just think, in the ’90s, when I came out, we had the dream team — all the people that came up with me, we became stars.
“That was a prolific opportunity for someone in the ’90s, to get an opportunity to be on television. That was great.”
New comics don’t have those kind of vehicles, Bellamy said. “Now, you don’t even have ‘Last Comic Standing’ anymore. You just don’t have those opportunities. And for the new comics — I feel sorry. Like, man, what’s going to be their big break? What’s going to be the breaking point for a new comic that’s coming out in 2013, you know?”
Not that it’s all dire for new comics on the scene — especially if Bellamy himself has anything to say about it. “The difference that they have right now is, they got YouTube, you know? They’ve got things to put up so that people can see you. They don’t have to wait to actually see you on television — everyone has a laptop, everyone has YouTube.
“But they also, too, they still need that mainstream American push. You want to be on something that they’re going to put you in front of millions of people. Like, we don’t have a comedy version of ‘American Idol’ where you can go on and all these people are going to see you, and you’re going to be looked at as one of the funniest comedians in the country.
“You know, that’s one of the things that I want to work on, too. Because I think that I have the respect and the pedigree in this game — being a veteran in it — that I can establish something like that for the up-and-coming comedians, you know what I mean?”
And hopefully, some of that new generation will be able to grow and thrive as much as that young kid who first took the stage more than 20 years ago has.
“Every year, you grow with your talent, your experiences teach you and make you grow,” Bellamy said. “And you evolve. Your brand gets wider, and hopefully it gets bigger. I’ve just been lucky enough and talented enough to be able to evolve in a positive way.”