by Ryan Meehan
Jermaine Fowler moved to NYC from his hometown in Maryland to become a male stripper dubbed “Lil’ Hand Grenade”. After an accident onstage involving hot body oil and a jump rope (lawsuit pending) he decided to try comedy. Before building a buzz with stand-up, Jermaine was featured in promos for McDonalds, Sobe, and Sports Illustrated. He was one of Backstage Magazine’s “30 Actors on the Brink of Stardom”, He also stars in the viral video HOMO THUGS and is the creator and star of the upcoming FOX Digital series, “JerMania.” Last year, he was one of the “New Faces” at the Just For Laughs Montreal Comedy Festival and was invited back this year to tape Funny as Hell for HBO. You can catch him touring nationally with College Humor and Comedy Central on Campus and you can watch him on MTV2’s Guy Code and Guy Court. Just 25 years old, Jermaine is one of New York City’s up and coming superstars and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Where did you get the idea for “Homo Thugs” and have you taken a lot of shit for that?
JF: I didn’t come up with Homo Thugs. My co-star of the series, Kevin Barnett, came up with it. He just thought it’d be funny to do some social commentary on how homophobic and contradicting hip hop culture can be. We first did it live onstage at the Creek and the Cave in Queens and it killed, so we decided to shoot it. Had no idea it was gonna be successful. Well, I’m sure Kevin was banking on it, he has nothing.
RM: What can we expect to see in your new series “JerMania”? When one is experiencing symptoms of JerMania how is it treated? Are there any medications that you would recommend?
JF: I have no idea when the series is gonna be released. I can tell you this though, it’s fucking hilarious. It’s a webseries about my beloved family. I cast Keith Robinson to play my Dad and Marina Franklin to play my Mom. They crushed it.
Symptoms of JerMania include: Maniacal laughter, weight loss, and an infatuation with Nintendo 64 games.
RM: Out of everyone you’ve worked with in the entertainment industry, who has been your favorite and why?
JF: Well I’ve done TV shows and opened for some of my idols, but hanging out at the comics’ table at the Comedy Cellar has been my favorite thing to do. All we do there is rag on each other and it’s frickin’ awesome. We usually just make fun of Ardie Fuqua’s blazers. Sometimes he shows up looking like he sells cologne at Macy’s.
RM: What is it about performing for college crowds that you enjoy so much? Do you still feel like a college student at 25?
JF: I love college crowds because they tend to already be excited and don’t need any warming up. The worst part is that because they’re essentially still growing up, they don’t know how to handle dark material. So if I do a bit about me seeing a fight in a movie theater, they’ll laugh. But if I talk about my parents divorcing, they’ll clench up. I hate that. Then I’ll just scream whatever mascot the school has and they’ll cheer. They’re so damn awkward (laugh).
RM: Have you ever had a joke that you thought wasn’t really going to hit hard absolutely kill? And conversely, have you ever had a bit that you thought was going to totally slaughter the crowd completely fall flat? And do you believe in the concept of a “tough room”?
JF: All the time. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on it. Try a different delivery or approach next time. I don’t like blaming the crowd when I have a sucky set because I feel that’s an easy excuse. With that said, some crowds are atrocious. My favorite thing to do is to kill on a show where all the comics have complained about how shitty the audience is. One time, I finished my set and walked up to the host and said, “You were right. They laughed at EVERYTHING. Terrible.”
RM: When it comes to writing new material, what have you found really works the best for you?
JF: What works for me is to not sit down and force myself to write. Just letting it come to me by living life. I don’t really have a method, which I like. Sometimes I see Hannibal go onstage and work on bits on the spot. I wanna do more of that. Sometimes I watch Greer Barnes get lost in his characters and act-outs. I wanna do more of that too. I like being a sponge and learning from all my peers. I used to talk super fast onstage, and then Kevin Barnett told me I should slow it down. So, I watch Marina Franklin and saw how well paced she was. I still talk a little fast though.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
JF: I have a few projects I’m working on, but other than that I’m just going with the flow and trying to perfect my acting and stand-up. I’m also trying to get into this TV show “Grimm”, is it good?
Official Website: http://www.jermainefowler.com/
Jermaine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/jermaine.fowler
Jermaine on Twitter: @jermainefowler
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