by Ryan Meehan
Justin Leon has spent the last seven years working the road and sharpening an act that is based on his life and yours, spending less time on our differences and more on what we have in common, Justin observes the world in a way that everyone can relate. Mainstream or urban, audiences agree, spending some time with Justin Leon is like sitting on the couch with a friend laughing about your day, your family, and your life. Justin has been fortunate to have had shared the stage with some of the best in the business today, and he’s our guest in 7 Questions.
RM: What was your life like growing up in Kansas City? When did you first become aware of comedy and were you instantly hooked or was it something that took you awhile to get into?
JL: Kansas City was great for me, I have a big family that spread across state line, KCK/KCMO, so I had a pass to wander the city growing up. And there isn’t a better place to encourage travel.
I was aware in grade school that I liked to make people laugh. It was high school when I figured out I could use it for my benefit. I was in my twenties the first time I got paid for it. The first time I did stand-up I knew this was what I was meant to do forever. Then I didn’t do it again for two years.
RM: I saw on Twitter that you were actively Tweeting the Grammys on Sunday…Do you do any pop-culture related material in your act? What did you take away from that whole ceremony? Any thoughts on where the music industry is currently sitting?
JL: I don’t consider myself a pop culture comic but if something just happened and If it’s big enough that I think my audience is thinking about it then I will drop something. But I have no Kardashian bits.
I thought some of the performances were for me and some were not. I’m getting older so I’m not the target audience for Taylor Swift and I’m not old enough to enjoy Madonna. But looking at Beyonce’s ass can’t be a bad thing. Music always changes. It’s funny, I read a status update from a high school classmate about how this Daft Punk stuff isn’t music like Beastie Boys back in the day. It’s the same thing my folks said about the Beastie Boys 25 years ago. Music is about your own personal taste. They still sell black licorice to someone.
RM: Do you feel that as an African-American it’s easier to discuss race issues than it would be if you were white? How can you tell if someone in the room is getting uncomfortable with your material; and what do you usually do about it?
JL: Absolutely, The same way its easier for a female comic to tell her jokes from a woman’s perspective or a Fat comic or a midget comic or Mexican comic etc. Because the life I get to see is a reflection of what people I interact with see when they look at me. And white comics can do race humor anytime they want, It just needs to be real funny, see Neal Brennan.
If you are easily uncomforted maybe a comedy club is the wrong place for you to be. You can get drunk on your couch. Couches are comfortable.
RM: Has being a father changed your approach to doing comedy? Do you ever think twice about how a joke might be perceived now that you have a child who will eventually come to see you perform?
JL: I have more material now because of being a father but why wouldn’t edit something I think is funny. I tell jokes to peoples kids all the time but they are all grown children at a comedy club.
RM: Out of all of the awesome comedians that you’ve worked with, who did you really identify with the most and why?
JL: I identify with them all. Comics are a rare breed and I can identify
with the need to be in the front of the room acting an ass for others entertainment.
RM: Where does standup comedy go from here and what is your contribution towards seeing that it gets there? Do you hold the opinion that the possibilities are endless, or do you think that the possibilities are limited and it’s up to the comedian to really maximize those opportunities by pushing boundaries?
JL: That second thing you said.
RM: What do you want people to take away from one of your live shows? Are you concerned more with making sure everyone had a great time, or that the audience also leaves with an enhanced perspective regarding some of the things that you discuss in your act?
JL: I’d like them to take away a t-shirt.
I want people to dig what i do but no one comedian is everyone’s favorite. I want the people that like what I do to tell their friends about me and I want the people that don’t like me to tell their enemies about me.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
JL: You can look for my upcoming Comedy Central presents…You can look for it.
Official Website: http://justinleon.wix.com/justinleon
Justin on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sydneysdad?fref=ts
Justin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JustinLeon
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