Shaquille O’Neal’s All Star Comedy Jam tour comes to the Academy of Music Nov. 17 for one night only, and features such comedians as Tony Roberts, Finesse Mitchell and Capone, known as “The Gansta of Comedy.”
Born Derrick Lee and straight out of the Bronx, N.Y., the man who was to become known as Capone came about his successful career honestly — he earned it.
“Growing up as the oldest brother in my family, I had to be a little more mature for my age. I was raised for a while by a single mother before she met my stepfather, so I was trained to be the man of the house,” he said.
Times were tough, he added, and so was his life. “Life in the ’hood was full of pressure and I was always trying to fit in. I even became a drug dealer, and I was successful — not with money, but because I made it out and didn’t die, but not before serving some time in jail. Today, I count that as a blessing because I was able to turn my life around into something positive. It was definitely a winning situation.”
Always able to take a negative situation and turn it into something funny, in 1992 Capone was challenged by a promoter friend to take his innate talent to the stage. Suddenly his comedy career was launched.
Today, the funnyman says his jokes are about personal relationships, children, society, work and ethnicity. “I talk about everything and anything, with my major goal just to make people think as well as laugh. I think I’ve been blessed with the talent of being able to turn some of life’s tragedies into something funny. Everybody wastes time with complaining about things they have no control over. Nothing is guaranteed in life except death, so we might as well try to make the best of any situation we come across. I try to teach that in my comedy.”
As the head of his own company, he also tries to teach budding comedians the business of comedy. He said, “I don’t teach them how to be funny, but the demographics of what it takes to be in the business. Lots of guys think just getting up on stage and cursing or stumbling is what it’s all about. But I encourage young comics with talent to have something to say so people can come to their shows and understand it.
“I also trying to teach them to be original, that less is more, and to reach for the next level,” he added. “I tell them to never be comfortable or stop working, because once you do you stop growing, and comedy is a growing job. You always need to get new material and be ready to change. You always have to have something to say.”
Today, Capone has a lot to say as he continues to grow. Now hosting Harlem’s legendary Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater, he’s also found his way into writing and acting. He was the main actor for the HBO production of “Sex Chronicles” as well as his own comedy special. He’s starred in such films as “Death of a Dynasty” and “Paper Soldiers,” and much, much more.
“This tour has opened up a lot of doors for me,” said Capone. “So I just keep the faith and stay humble to allow God to use me for whatever he wants to use me for in order to make this a happy and successful career.”
For times and ticket information, call (215) 893-1999.