“I hate black pepper” – Ode to a comic king

Outrageous.

That was Bernie Mac‘s signature stage persona.

A complete outpouring of raw craziness that he never held back. His characterization was crisp, his delivery dazzled.

In a eulogy at his funeral, Steve Harvey describes what became Mac’s most suitable spot (headlining) on The Original Kings of Comedy tour back in 2000.

“In a relay you give the baton to the next dude and you save the fastest cat for last just incase you get behind,” he said tearfully.

“No matter how funny the three of us was [were], Bernie had something else for them”. He goes on to explain how none of the other comics wanted to follow Mac in the shows. Audience reactions were always explosive with his sets. “He was just too much.”

Bernie Mac
Sorely missed: Bernie Mac

“It ain’t the kids, it’s us,” said Mac in one of his most iconic sets. “See, we’re the punk-*** parents today. We need to go back to old-school ’cause there ain’t no grand-mamas no more.”

“Big mama gone,” he lamented. “See, you a grand-mama now, what are you 24? Great grand-mama 36?”

A no-holds-barred comedian – that’s what he was. And I don’t mean it only in the sense that he said whatever popped into his mind. Mac had complete confidence in his own brand of comedy and just ran with it, without reservations.

No easy feat.

A lot of the time, my struggle when delivering jokes is just a back-and-forth mental anguish of “Yes, they liked that one” and “That one didn’t land as expected.”

If there’s one thing I would love to emulate about Bernie Mac, it’s that complete investment in what I have to say and leaving the contemplation and self-doubt for another space.

I always used to harp on about the idea that “the perfect comic” would be a blend of Dave Chappelle‘s madness, Eddie Murphy‘s acting and Bernie Mac’s delivery. But, in truth, all of those comics have parallels of some of the characteristics I love in each of them.

I was extremely sad and shocked at Bernie Mac’s passing in 2008. One thing I do, though, is still look up to his legacy and the body of work he left behind.

Check out this unforgettable excerpt from Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood (1996). Mac plays “Officer Self-Hatred”, an angry cop directing his loathing towards his very own race.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my own fears when it comes to this comedy thing. It’s that time again, leading up to a performance, where I do a lot of introspection and my intense fears come back to the fore.

This Saturday, I’m at Allan Webb Hall for their cocktail evening (though as an MC). The latest stint on the circuit here at Rhodes.

Ridiculously nervous, I am. Hoping for a decent showing.

Stay tuned…

-Tyson

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