Posted by: Ted D. Davis
From Friday, December 30 through Sunday, January 1, 2017, Comedian Joe Torry will play Hoover’s Comedy Club Stardome.
Torry rose to stardom with roles in the film’s Strictly Business and the blockbuster House Party, before fanning to flame as host of Russell Simmons Def Comedy Jam. He parlayed that success into a recurring role on NBC hospital stalwart E.R. and ABC police drama NYPD Blue. Then he appeared in the coming of age fictional masterpiece Poetic Justice, co-starring late hip hop icon Tupac Shakur and pop superstar Janet Jackson, before earning roles on the WB Network dramedy (drama+ comedy) Girlfriends, and the suspense thriller, Mansfield 12.
Torry’s blunt, witty, crass, honest, and funny character portrayals mirror the nature of his stand-up performances, which he talked to Magic City Radar about ahead of his shows.
MCR: Are you currently on tour, or are you gracing Birmingham?
JT: (laughing) “I’m always on tour. But Birmingham is one of my best places, man. I’ve played the Comedy Club regularly since the early days of my career when I lived in Atlanta. I’ve always loved playing there and the reception is always great”.
MCR: Your father died in recent years, as did mine. When they die, whatever your relationship with them, it causes you to inventory your own life because of their larger than life persona as “daddy”. You always see yourself in their eyes.
What impact has his death had on your life and comedy going forward?
JT: “The impact is what I teach my kids.
I didn’t always care for my father’s method of discipline, i.e., butt whippings, but watching his fifty-three years of marriage, raising six kids, and his career as a soldier, going back and forth to Vietnam, enduring those hardships, taught me discipline, sacrifice, and perseverance, which I teach my kids”.
MCR: Chicago (the antagonist he portrays in the movie Poetic Justice) is the self-centered asshole we hate to love, though he provides what is the most significant dramatic tension in the film.
I have to be honest: I figured Joe Torry is Chicago, but you’re actually a gregarious, enthusiastic, happy guy.
How much of that character is Joe Torry?
JT: Some of it. Characters tend to be heightened, you know, and I was really young back then, so there may have been some similarity. John Singleton is the guy who recognized that I had qualities that could really improve the quality of the movie. The movie was actually sort of dark, but he recognized that my fight, quick thinking, and sense of humor could brighten it, which it did. Chicago actually brightens the movie”.
MCR: Hence, we hate to love him (laughing).
MCR: How are you a better person and comedian today than in the late nineties when you were in all the movies? Did the fame ever go to your head?
JT: “Nah. I’ve always just been me, man. I’ve always known how to play to the audience. I’ve always known that as a comedian, I get more jokes by being larger than life.
I always used my point of reference to serve my comedy. In the nineties I had one kid, and that colored my comedy. Today I have three kids and have been married for fifteen years. That colors my act today. So, with me you get me”.
MCR: Musicians complain that the music business suffers, especially in terms of record sales, as the result of the internet’s application into music. Do you feel comedy has been similarly affected?
JT: “No. I think comedy has been afforded by increased exposure on the net. The internet has grown comedy by providing a platform for people who aren’t necessarily comedians but are funny enough to provide entertainment to others. You might not be a comedian, but you might be funny for two minutes. Those people have gained an audience, which serves the industry well.
People like singer/songwriter Tank and Christopher “Kid” Reid are melding music and comedy in internet productions that reach audiences that might not otherwise be reached, so the net has been great for comedy”.
MCR: Any good reads to advise to fans?
JT: “I read a lot, but I don’t read all these new books that constantly come out. I usually go back to books I’ve read in the past the inform and challenge me. In particular, the book of Proverbs directs me. It brings my spirit alive, and when your spirit is alive, you’re alive. I’m working on so many projects that I need my spirit to be alive, man”.
MCR: What projects? Can you name a few?
JT: “Sure. Unsung Hollywood (the TVONE production that gives viewers the full story on African American actors, shows, and movies that are not available anywhere else, from Pam Grier to Bernie Mac to Meagan Good and more) is producing a comedy tour for myself and my brother (comedian/actor Guy Torry) called Torry vs. Torry, I’ve been taping my reality show entitled The Torry’s, and I’ve just finished filming my film The Workout Room. The movie tells the story of the next hot comic, played by myself, who is set to make it out of the small club where he is a regular performer, but the opportunity is challenged when a big gig he’s set to play is scheduled on the same day as his daughter’s wedding (laughing with me).
His daughter is played by Calida Jones, Tammy Townsend is an alcohol challenged club owner, and Little JJ, Bruh Man (Martin fame), and Torrei Hart round out the cast of stars”.
MCR: What are you getting for Christmas?
JT: “Every year I get the same thing: A big bill identifying me as Santa. So after Christmas is over, I pay it, go into my man cave, grab my peace pipe, and get some peace from the holidays”!
MCR: (laughing) Amen!
MCR: Any last words for fans?
JT: “I look forward to seeing all the fans, but more especially my brothers of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Inc., my sisters of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Inc., and all members of the local PanHellenic council, and happy holiday to all”!
MCR: Happy holiday, and thank you man!
For more information on times and accommodations see www.thestardome.com, or call (205) 444-0008, and read Magic City Radar for the most up to date information on local and regional entertainment, food, fashion, and culture. Thank you for your support, we love you, and happy holiday!