Alonzo Bodden made national headlines when he won the third season of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” Since then, the comedian has appeared in movies like “Scary Movie 4,” and “The Girl Next Door.” His hour long special, “Who’s Paying Attention?” premiered on Showtime and the special can now be purchased on DVD. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Bodden about his stand-up career, his life before, and what it’s like being a comedian in today’s culture.
Q - Real quick, how did you get involved in stand-up?
A - My first career was an aircraft mechanic. I began teaching new mechanics and loved making them laugh. When faced with a layoff I took a comedy writing class, did my first 5 minutes, loved it and never looked back. I think the aircraft industry is a bit safer now.
Q - Most people know you from winning “Last Comic Standing” season 3. I would imagine the show has affected your life positively but have there been any negative effects to winning?
A - Not really, other than a big tax bill. I imagine there was some resentment from other comics but I’m cool with everyone on the show. If I knew then what I know now maybe I would have created some negatives. Seems an arrest is a good career move. I guess I should have punched John Heffron or tried to hook up with Tammy Pascatelli.
Q - Years ago there were only few outlets for stand-up on television and it didn’t seem that there were a lot of comedians working. Now, with cable and the Internet, do you think there is an oversaturation of stand-up comedy and comedians in general?
A - I think the oversaturation was back when I first started in the early 90’s. There were cable shows, network shows and to fill them a lot of comics got on TV before they were ready. It’s difficult to stand out now because the Internet lets everyone with 5 minutes broadcast it; but that’s showbiz. I think the biggest problem now is self promotion often beats out comedy. The Internet has brought the one hit wonder from music to the one bit wonder of comedy.
Q – You’ve done bit parts in movies such as “Scary Movie 4,” and “The Girl Next Door.” Is acting something you’ve always wanted to parlay from your stand-up career?
A - Actually I love stand-up. I like acting but I could never give up the live stuff. Besides, I’m not a great actor. Denzel has no worries here. I want to know how bad actors get work. I want those Tyrese roles where I just have to act mad and rip my shirt off. I guess I better work on my abs.
Q - Your new special premiered February 19th on Showtime. It used to be a big deal to have an hour special on HBO or Showtime but with the advent of Comedy Central and YouTube, do you feel that is still true today?
A – Yeah, it still takes work to get a one-hour special. It may not be as difficult as in the past because there are a few more outlets but one hour of TV still means something. Hey, it took me 17 years to get this special, don’t diminish it. We comics are sensitive you know. Besides, they don’t develop comics anymore; you have to get there yourself. When’s the last time you saw an HBO special with someone you hadn’t heard of from movies or TV? They only work with stars. Showtime is giving comics a break.
Q - When you’re taping a television special, how do you decide which material you will use? Are there certain jokes that always make TV?
A – Well, once a joke or bit has been done on TV or a CD or DVD I won’t do it for broadcast again. I just try to work my best stuff and stay away from any hacky club jokes or crowd work. That doesn’t translate to TV. Having a theme to the set helps also. Then there’s the standards and practices guys, you have to get stuff past them. Interestingly, on network TV they worry more about offending sponsors than cursing. They can beep a curse but you don’t want to piss off Kraft or Wal-Mart.
Q - Thanks again for taking the time. Is there anything you wanted to add?
A - Just that I love stand-up. Trust me people, you don’t want me to go back to fixing airplanes. I’m a bit rusty and you might have to fly on something I worked on.
For more information on Alonzo Bodden, visit his website at: http://alonzolive.com/.
Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org.