It would be during one of his regular standup comedy shows that Christian comedian, Akintunde felt his spirit being depleted. No, he hadn't lost his love for comedy, but he had lost his love for his ever-so vulgar comedy routines. Not even ten years into his career, Akintunde would find himself yearning for a new purpose with his God-given talent and he soon found it. After being saved, Akintunde focused his career on Christian comedy and has since then found insurmountable success with a weekly radio show under his belt and a successful tour still in progress. Akintunde took the time to chat with EBONY.com to let us in on his fears transferring from secular to Christian comedy and why having his wife as a manager has been the best decision he's made to date!
[EBONY] How has the tour been? I know it has been going on actually for about a year now.
Akintunde: It’s been wonderful, I mean we always have a good time on the road and the audience is growing. That’s exciting for us and it’s all about continuing to build and get funnier. I don’t think there is a comedian alive who doesn’t want to get better.
[EBONY] When did you first realize that you could make people laugh?
Akintunde: I started making people laugh when I was in 7th grade and I was going to a school called Raymar Jr. Academy. I was a fat kid and people would crack on me, and one time this guy named Bobby Knight, cracked on me and I had happened to have a few things to say back and people laughed. I became like a comedy sniper.
Then when I got into college, I was managing this guy. He eventually told me I was a terrible manager, but that I was funny. He said I’m taking you to a comedy club. So, he took me to a comedy club and I did 5 minutes on open mic night at the Comedy House Theater in Savannah, Georgia and I fell in love.
[EBONY] I’ve always felt comedians have the hardest job in entertainment. How do comedians actually “make it” in this industry?
Akintunde: It’s different for everybody, particularly because I lived in Savannah, Georgia, which is not a comedy or entertainment Mecca at all. I would hang around the club, and one day the booker was like “hey do you want to go and open up for Don. D.C Curry in Augusta Georgia, and I was like “yeah”! I’ll never forget I drove two hours to Augusta Georgia, for 75 dollars I will never forget that. It just floored me that somebody paid me 75 dollars. You don’t know how much dues you got to pay to get paid to do this, so when he said 75 dollars I was like “that will only cost me 15 dollars worth of gas and the rest I can go buy some groceries” you know, so it was just a phenomenal experience.
[EBONY] So did you have a manager or were people just kind of finding you?
Akintunde: Most of the stuff in comedy is word of mouth between comedians when you are just starting out. People would say, “hey man, such and such is looking for this.” I used to come to New York and I would do all of the rooms. Then finally I got a manger. My first manager did absolutely nothing for my career. Nothing at all! I will never forget my friend Mo’Nique, told me how to get out of my contract and I fired him. But my best manager has been my wife and you know why? Because she knows exactly what the mortgage is, and what the bills are [laughs].
[EBONY] You wrote for Mo’Niques talk show on BET. What was that experience like?
Akintunde: I’ve been working for Mo as a writer for years. I started working with her as a writer for show time at the Apollo. So we did that for about 3 years on the Apollo and when she got her new talk show, she called me up and she was like come on. I went to Atlanta and the first year I was monologue writing and second year I was a head writer and it was a wonderful experience. That was a great education for me because the pacing was so fast. And the amount of material that you have to dump out is so huge, just a wonderful experience and Mo’ is a very easy person to work with.
[EBONY] How do you keep yourself from draining your creativity?
Akintunde: Wow. You know what most of the writers on the Mo’nique show were comedians. We would sit around in a round table and just fire off ideas and it would be up to us as the head writers to say, “nah that’s not going to work.”
[EBONY] Down the line of your career you cleaned up your material a lot. Did it affect your career working in such a secular driven entertainment world?
Akintunde: When I cursed, I cursed. I mean I went in. But I got saved in 1999 and I would be on stage trying to do my old jokes and they would just ruin my spirit. It just felt terrible and because of that and the process came and I really recognized that comedy was a ministry. You really have the ability to deliver laughter to people, God ordained laughter. True comedy is coming up with original thought or an idea and figuring out a way to make this funny.
[EBONY] Where do you pull your inspiration for your standup?
Akintunde: My wife, I wont’ talk about her today though! We have 5 children, when you have 5 children you have an endless amount of content. I have a son in college, two other children in high school, a 12 year old and a 9 year old. So we literally have someone in every age group. So that is tons of material.
[EBONY] Do your kids ever try to help you with material?
Akintunde: If they do try to help me find new material, it’s so that I don’t talk about them so much.
[EBONY] Tell EBONY.com about your future projects.
Akintunde: Look out for a TV show that we are working on. It will be something fresh and something new. It will be a different spin on the whole “inspirational” idea. I’m supposed to be filming a movie in a couple of weeks, too. I do a lot of ghostwriting and staying on the road and promoting my Akintunde Live From Atlanta- The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But DVD.
There is also my syndicated radio show on almost 40 stations now, the Akintude Show. We have everyone from Chris Tucker to Mo’Nique to Ce Ce Winans guest appear.
[EBONY] Do you think that gospel comedy will make a big impact in industry?
Akintunde: I think so, we are definitely breaking out and I mean right now, there is a rebirth of comedy. It is better because then you can bring your family and your children
[EBONY] How do you feel about Kevin Hart and his approach to comedy? He’s very wholesome in his own way, while still being secular.
Akintunde: I really like Kevin and I think Kevin is funny and relevant. What I like about Kevin particularly is when he came on the scene he was so comfortable going against the grain. Kevin did what a lot of comedians should take note of: if you see five other guys doing a joke about sex, then do something different. He talked about his children, talked about his wife, his manager. It was funny and clever. I think he was smart enough to stick with it through the tough years, until we figured out that what he was doing was clever. Because of that, he just broke Eddie Murphy’s comedy tour box office record.
[EBONY] Did you feel any resistance during your career path? Was it hard to stick with the changes?
Akintunde: Well you got to figure I wasn’t a millionaire comedian, but I was making six figures. So to stop and say at 28 years old that you going to stop making all this money from secular [comedy] was scary.
But we did feel a lot of resistance and doubt. People were like are you serious? How are you going to do this? I would say I just know what God told me to do. But he has been so faithful in the process. I didn’t orchestrate this, God did. I think that when he takes over your career you know so much more is going to come out of it
[EBONY] You’ve proven the naysayers wrong. What can we expect from the tour?
Akintunde: Well basically expect hard neck breaking laughter. I like to talk about relevant stuff. Like I look at lot of stuff going on in terms of relationships and I realize comedy is a great way to make light of them. I pretty much have been on point with most of my critique! [Laughs] My wife will have girlfriends come over and she will say, “you make me sick, you always talking about my friends and whom they are dating.” And I say, “Well what happened with them last time”…