On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN had the chance to chat with actor and renowned stand-up comedian Bill Bellamy about his legendary role in How to Be a Player, untold stories with Tupac, and more.
Born William Bellamy in Newark, New Jersey, he began doing stand-up when he was a student at Rutgers University. After realizing early on that he had a knack for making audiences laugh, Bellamy started out in smaller comedy clubs around the nation before creating a name for himself in New York City’s illustrious Improv and Comic Strip and Los Angeles’ legendary Comedy Store. It took him less than two years to establish his stand-up career, and he quickly made it to HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” shortly after. He popularized the term “booty call” via the show, a phrase that also served as the title of his first stand-up special on Showtime in 1996.
In addition to his acclaim in comedy, Bellamy has maintained a successful career as a film actor and television guest star. His credits include How to Be a Player, Love Jones, Any Given Sunday, and Getting Played, among several others. Concurrently, the entertainer was honing his skills as a comedian and demonstrating his many facets of brilliance. In 2012, he released his second comedy special, Crazy Sexy Dirty, which quickly became one of Showtime’s most popular programs that year. Fast forward to more recently, the veteran entertainer was a recurring cast member in season three of Issa Rae’s “Insecure,” and 2020’s “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker.” He also starred in crime-thriller A Dark Foe.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from Bill Bellamy’s “Drink Champs” conversation. Continue scrolling to read them and watch the full episode here.
1. On How to Be a Player being one of his most iconic roles
With Bellamy, Natalie Desselle, and Bernie Mac in the lead roles, 1997’s How to Be a Player paved a way for the comedians. Bellamy played Dray Jackson, a guy who spent his life chasing after women but eventually finds his equal. When asked about how pivotal the movie was to his career, the actor responded, “I made it fun to be a player. I wasn’t an a**hole with it.”
“It’s just one of those roles that every young male can relate to or wanted to be like that. To have that moment where you got all the chicks, and you got the fly crib, and the right car, and your life is good. That feeling is what I think people associate me with because of the way that I was able to deliver the role.”
2. On LL Cool J fighting Jamie Foxx on the set of Any Given Sunday
While shooting an intense scene at Miami’s Pro Player Stadium for the 1999 film Any Given Sunday, LL Cool J and Jamie Foxx fought each other after trading words. They were both very new to the acting scene at the time, and their fight became notorious. Nevertheless, with the aid of Jim Brown, they were able to put the incident behind them. When recalling the fight, Bellamy shared, “It looked like he got thrown by a godd**n Transformer or something.”
“[LL] does not have a helmet on, Jamie does. So the third time we go to do the take, Jamie just turns off, and boom! Punched him in the face, busts his lip, whatever. I said, ‘Oh s**t.’ Because now I know I’m never going to get my line. This s**t right here done got out of hand,” he recalled.
3. On Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction
The success of “The Cosby Show” propelled Bill Cosby from a struggling stand-up comedian to one of the largest television performers in the world, earning him widespread acclaim. However, his career and reverence have declined since 2004 when Andrea Constand accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his suburban Philadelphia home. The comic’s conviction was overturned this year but according to Bellamy, his crimes left a mark on the minds of many of his fans.
“I just didn’t understand why after, all of a sudden, Mr. Cosby was going through a tough time. He’s been clean his whole life. He almost played it perfect. It almost seemed like, to be honest with you, once he was about to buy NBC, everything went wrong,” shared Bellamy.
4. On cancel culture and its effects on comedy
Comedians are finding it more difficult to shrug off the phenomenon of cancel culture as it spreads across the entertainment industry. Even for the most outspoken entertainers like Dave Chappelle, the chances that a joke may travel into cancelable terrain increases for those whose job is to critique pop culture and society. As pointed out by Bellamy and many other “Drink Champs” alumni, such as Tiffany Haddish, cancel culture makes being a comedian much harder.
“I don’t like cancel culture because it’s just swinging left to right. It’s not specific. If they don’t like it, oh. It’s like someone that’s always in their feelings… To me, people on Facebook are always in their feelings. No matter what you post, they be like, ‘Oh my God,’” he explained.
5. On having to sign a release form after Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl malfunction
The infamous events that unfolded at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime performance will go down in history. Accidentally exposing her right breast to 100 million people, Justin Timberlake botched a “costume reveal” when he removed a piece of Janet Jackson’s outfit. Talking about the aftermath of the situation, Bellamy cited that time of the year as when things began to get strict regarding what people could say on air. “I don’t know what year that Super Bowl s**t was, [but] it got tight. If you was in radio, it got tight.”
He continued, “I was on tour after the Janet Jackson malfunction. I went into a radio station, and I had to sign a release that I would not say anything that was inappropriate. I came in the radio station and they said, ‘Mr. Bellamy, everything is crazy around here right now. The radio station is tight on us right now. We can’t use no bad language. You gotta sign this to say that you’re gonna be on your A-game.’ I said, ‘Oh snap.’”
6. On “Def Comedy Jam” helping him get his big break
Bellamy was one of several African-American stand-up comedians who got their start thanks to “Def Comedy Jam” in 1992. Midway through the interview, the comic discussed how big of a deal it was for him. “I premiered on Def Comedy Jam. I come out explosive. No one knows my name yet, but they know my set, and they know what I look like right? Going into ‘92, I get MTV. So it was almost like a shot out a cannon,” the actor shared. “When I first got on ‘Def Comedy Jam,’ they never knew my name. When I got on MTV, people were like, ‘Yo that’s Bill Bellamy.’”
7. On how a Def Jam Christmas party enhanced his work ethic
Def Jam was known for its holiday parties during the ’90s with an array of notable artists and celebrities in attendance each year. When reflecting on moments that shaped him, Bellamy talked about how seeing JAY-Z, Mary J. Blige, and LL Cool J walk past him while he couldn’t get in made him work harder. He stated, “I said, ‘There will never be another motherf**king day in my life that people don’t know who I am.’”
“I was so burnt. Only cats that came out of the streets know what I’m talking about. I was so embarrassed… I was so burnt that I was this close to not being able to get in,” Bellamy shared. “That’s what made Bill Bellamy: The pain of embarrassment. The pain of watching another motherf**ker get past me.”
8. On coining the term “booty call” and where it originated from
The phrase “booty call” was popularized by Bellamy during his appearance on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam.” Although the entertainer no longer makes booty calls, his humor — and that of other “Def Comedy Jam” greats — has been deeply ingrained in Black culture. While speaking on coining the phrase, he shared how people still don’t know he came up with it:
“’Booty call’ is a phrase that people say ‘cause it’s normal. They don’t know that it came from me. It came from something that I wrote on a piece of paper that I said at the Uptown Comedy Club that got me on Def Jam. Period, true story.”
9. On Tupac hugging him with a bulletproof vest on
According to Bellamy, he and legendary rapper Tupac Shakur had a close relationship prior to his passing. In fact, the comic interviewed him in 1996, and the latter has made several cameos in various movies that Bellamy was in. Toward the end of his conversation with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN, the actor talked about how Tupac once hugged him with a bulletproof vest on.
“Out of nowhere, Tupac comes walking up… Pac is all New York at this moment, let’s keep it 100. Me and Pac were like this bro, I promise you. Pac was like, ‘Yo, B, n***a, you getting it.’ He comes up, and he grabs me and I was like, ‘Oh s**t, what in the f**k is going on?’” Bellamy recalled. “I was like, ‘Pac, what’s up?’ He was like, ‘N***a, you know I gotta stay on my grind.’ He’s the first person I ever felt with a bulletproof vest.”