Though it’s been 14 years since he’s released a proper stand-up comedy special, Martin Lawrence’s presence on persistent influence to younger generations of comedian has never waned. With a national tour — three more dates coming up! — on the heels of his new special Doin’ Time: Uncut, which debuted on Showtime earlier this year and can now be viewed On Demand, Lawrence is poised to enter 2017 stronger than ever. Filmed live at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, Doin’ Time: Uncut finds the ever-physical Lawrence opining on Barack Obama, Bill Cosby, life in Hollywood and more.
We recently caught up with Lawrence to chat about the new comedy special, his past in the world of boxing and more. Check it out below!
Martin we are all so happy to see you have a new comedy special out! How does it feel getting back on stage after fourteen years?
It feels good! The reception I am getting from everyone welcoming me back on stage feels so great.
What was the process like developing it? Did you get back on the grind of testing out all of your new material in the comedy clubs?
Yes, absolutely. I workout the material with my brothers, friends, and then we go to comedy clubs and try it out. We get back in those smoke filled rooms, small rooms, small venues, and then we work our way up to the bigger venues.
What is it like now when you’re testing new material? Do you feel the same type of pressure you felt when you were first starting out in your open mic days?
I do feel the pressure to deliver because I always want to be funny. That’s always the name of the game. But, the reception I get when I come on stage now is always so warm, I don’t really feel the pressure from that angle.
I would assume the clapping and cheering from the audience almost acts as an anti-anxeity medication for you? It just naturally relaxes you.
I noticed in this special you made a lot of jokes about boxing, but you don’t actually give yourself enough credit. You were a Golden Gloves contender right? Did you ever consider becoming a professional boxer verses a comedian?
Yes, I was Golden Gloves contender. But no, not really. I was a Golden Gloves runner-up and then I came home with my eye swollen and my mother was like, “Oh no, that is not what you’re going to do!” So she took me out of boxing as soon as she saw my eye swollen.
And what would you say hurts worse, a left hook to the ribs or a joke that bombs?
Well I’ll tell you they both can hurt! They both don’t feel good!
In the opening of this special you spoke a little bit about going to see Eddie Murphy and that sort of made up your mind that you wanted to become a comedian. Can you tell me a little bit more about that experience?
It was a beautiful experience because I was a big fan. I drove two hours to see him in Richmond and when I was watching him perform I was thinking, “He is so good!” On the way home, I said to myself, “I got work to do! If want to be as good as Eddie I have a lot of work to do!” From that point on I just kept working really hard on my material.
I have to say I have always been a huge fan of yours and you inspired me to do comedy as well. One day I saw you at Hugo’s and I was so starstruck I could hardly speak. So, my question is, where you like that the first time you worked with Eddie Murphy? Or was it super easy for you?
Yes, I was like that. I was starstruck, I couldn’t believe I was getting ready to work with one of my idols so to speak. I couldn’t believe it, I was in awe. I would watch how he worked, and his professionalism. I was just honored to be around him.
Also, in this special, you mentioned when you auditioned for Star Search you were yourself. You didn’t clean up your material, you were still blue correct?
Yes, that’s correct.
A lot of times when I am in comedy clubs I hear comics talking about changing themselves for the crowd or for the type of venue they are in. How do you feel about that?
I kind of do what I want to do and it is what it is, but I have been in that position where I have done material that isn’t appropriate for that setting. I had a Saturday Night Live incident where I did material that wasn’t appropriate. So yes, I have been in that position before and it’s not a good position to be in. So be yourself, but make sure you have material that’s right for whatever venue you perform in.
Years ago, sadly, we almost lost you. You almost lost your life. Did that change you, how you look at life or how you approach your comedy at all?
I think so. I’m more appreciative of life. I don’t take things for granted as much as I probably did when I was younger. I’m a lot more focused.
You always have really solid relationship material. Is there any funny advice you’d give the single people who are feeling lonely?
I don’t know if there’s any funny advice I have, but the only thing you can do is keep hope alive if you want it to work! You got to put in the hours and the time and it has to be worth it.
So, of course my final question is the one everyone wants the answer to. When we will see Bad Boys 3?
We’re working on it. I don’t have a specific date, but I believe it’s going to happen.
Martin Lawrence Doin’ Time: Uncut is also available on DVD now!