Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” comedian Aries Spears makes his debut appearance on the show and delves into his history as a standup comic and actor, as well as the trials and tribulations that come with the territory. Hailing from New York City, Spears initially gained traction through appearances on “Showtime at the Apollo” and “Def Comedy Jam,” but would catch his big break after venturing out to Las Angeles where he racked up acting credits in various films including Malcolm X, Home of Angels, The Pest, Jerry Maguire and Out Of Sync. However, it was his time as a cast member on the sketch comedy series “MADtv” that Spears is most known for, as he became one of the most popular comics on the show. On it, he was renowned for his various impressions and fictional characters. Since his departure from “MADtv,” he’s stayed active on the standup comedy circuit and continues to stake his claim as one of the most hilarious comics in the game.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Aries Spears episode of “Drink Champs.” Take a look at them below.
1. How He Got His Start In Comedy
According to Spears, his foray into comedy was largely influenced by the one and only Eddie Murphy, who he studied closely during the latter’s rise to icon status. “I’m a ’80s baby, I grew up on TV. So, Eddie [Murphy] was my first heavy influence,” he says. “So, I just went to The Uptown and I did like three impressions doing Pepsi commercials. The bug hit me, I killed it and I been in it ever since.”
2. His Thoughts On Standup Comics Having Ghostwriters
In recent years, the topic of ghostwriting has crept into the world of comedy with many comics on opposing sides of the issue. During his sit down with the “Drink Champs,” Spears gives his take about comedians having helping hands. “Maybe it’s different in the rap game ’cause I know some rappers have ghostwriters. But, I know for comedy, the best motherfuckers, it’s you,” he explains. “Every comic wants to come out and have their joke be a grand-slam home-run. That’s always the intention, but that’s not always the case. From the time we say ‘hello’ to the time you say ‘goodnight,’ and everything in between, we want every joke to be a Mike Tyson punch from the ’80s. Every joke is thrown with bad intentions.”
3. His Comments On Kevin Hart
Earlier this summer, Spears made headlines when he called out Kevin Hart for having writers assist him in creating his standup comedy routines, a topic he broaches during his conversation with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN. “When I talked about the Kevin Hart situation, motherfuckers were like, ‘Well, you know Richard Pryor had Paul Mooney,’” he says. “Correction, Paul Mooney wrote for Richard Pryor on the ‘Richard Pryor Show.’ That’s a TV show, that’s not standup. For a TV show, there’s a lot of parts in that. It’s an ensemble cast. You need writers. But, for standup, that’s boxing, that’s you. Ain’t nobody in that ring but you. That’s how it should be.”
4. His Love For Los Angeles
Despite being raised on the east coast, the comic has claimed Los Angeles as his home for the past two decades since moving out west in 1992. “A lot of New Yorkers look down on L.A., but when I moved there, I was 18 or 17. So, everything became mine for the first time,” he remembers. “First piece of pussy, first house, first car, my first independence. L.A. has become my home because I grew up there in the sense of becoming a man. When I was in Jersey or New York, I was living in my mama house. So, I was still under her rules and regulations.”
5. Turning Pain Into Comedy
One aspect of a standup comic’s skillset that sets them a part from the pack is their ability to translate painful experiences in their own life into their comedy routine, a notion that Spears fully agrees with. “I think the best ones, it just comes naturally like anything else,” he says. “I don’t care what type of artist you are. Sports, rapping, singing, dancing, comedy. The best shit is organic, when it flows. Like Michael Jordan would say, ‘Don’t chase the game, let it come to you.’ Relax. Comedy’s moist now, we’re in a moist era. They have to watch what they say. I’m Floridian with my comedy, I stand my ground, nigga.”
6. His Thoughts On Being Labeled A “Hater”
Known for stirring the pot with his controversial comments and unpopular opinions, Spears has been labeled as a “hater” on occasion, an appraisal that the star takes in stride. “I think that’s unfortunate that you have to shun your thoughts because you’re worried about being labeled a ‘hater,’” he shares. “I think that’s one of the most overused words in the world. It would be one thing if I said, ‘Oh, this person is garbage as a comedian,’ and again, I’ve never said that about anyone I’ve been accused of saying that about. I just had a difference of opinion. Sometimes, I can recognize the genius of the comic, but he don’t necessarily make me laugh. I’m not saying he’s a bad comic, he just don’t do it for me. But, I see the genius in it.”
7. His Passion For Standup Comedy
When asked if he prefers standup comedy, or acting and sketch comedy, Spears says that creative license that’s afforded to a comedian trumps all. “They all got their blessings and their curse,” he explains. “From an ego standpoint, nothing is more gratifying than being a comedian ’cause that’s all you. You’re the producer, the writer, director, you’re the star. You do a movie and a TV show, them is the writers’ words. Sometimes, it’s the director’s vision that they give you in terms of direction. Sometimes, it’s a producer’s call, so it ain’t all you, which can be a good thing, too, ’cause it’s like a team sport. You’re playing off your man. And if you got a good teammate who knows how to hit you with the no look or the whip-whop, it’ll make your game better. Nothing’s better than doing a scene with an actor and this motherfucker’s so tight, you gotta tighten up your game. You’re on the same team, but you’re competing ’cause he’s like, ‘I gotta step my game up ’cause this nigga’s a beast.’ With standup, you’re alone. Rise or fail, you’re alone.”
8. His Experience On “MADtv”
Spears’ career took a leap in 1997 when he became a cast member on the sketch comedy TV show “MADtv,” one of the more hilarious, yet unsung comedic shows of its era. The veteran comic looks back on his time on the series and his cast-mates fondly. “The crew I had, again, to put it in basketball terms, we was like a championship team,” he shares. “We knew [what] we had, we knew each other’s weaknesses, each other’s good spots, we knew where the person liked the ball. So, we just knew how to play off of each other in such a strong way that it made for a great show. Unfortunately, we weren’t ‘Saturday Night Live.’”
9. On Possibly Being Blackballed
Despite being touted as one of the better standup comedians on the circuit and a seasoned actor, Spears believes he hasn’t gotten a fair shake in comparison to other comics. When asked by N.O.R.E. if he feels as if he’s been blackballed by the powers that be, Spears takes a diplomatic approach, but admits that he feels his opinions and comments may give executives and producers cause to pause when considering him for casting. “Blackballed is when they put you in the book where it’s like it don’t matter how talented you are, if you’re in the book, they’re not fucking with you,” he explains. “Listen, do I technically know for a fact that I am? Of course not. And every now and then, I book a job here and there, so maybe I’m not. But, I don’t think I’m at the top of the list when it comes time to cast[ing] for certain projects. And that’s partly because, again, I’m opinionated and I tend not to hold back. I’m not out here trying to maliciously say things for effect. I’m just telling you how I feel, telling you what I think, and giving it to you honestly.”
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