Unless you are a movie buff or a comedy buff, you might not recognize the name Mike Epps. But when you see his face and hear his voice, you will instantly recognize Epps as one of the most popular comedians of the past few years. On Friday, Nov. 26, Epps will bring his comedy to the Crown stage.
Epps was born in 1970 in Indianapolis, Indiana, into a large family. His family encourage his comedic side and he began performing while still a teenage. Following a move to Atlanta, Ga., where he worked at the Comedy Act Theater. In 1995, he moved to New York City where he found a home on the Def Comedy Jam. During that time he also made his first big screen appearance in Van Diesel’s Strays, a film that explored relationships and drugs.
Strays was just the first of many big-screen roles Epps has tackled. He became a fan favorite from the Friday series of films, where he brought the role of Day-Day to life in Ice Cube’s Next Friday.
In 2001, Epps stepped out of the spotlight and behind the mic to bring the voice of Sonny the Bear to life in Eddie Murphy’s Dr. Dolittle 2. He also has voiced the role of Boog in Open Season 2 and Open Season 3.
2004 and 2005 were busy years for Epps, who starred in Resident Evil Apocalypse and Guess Who? with Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mack, and the remake of The Honeymooners. In 2006, Epps hit the big screen again with a cast of stars in the fi lm The Fighting Temptations, which featured Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyonce. In 2007, he reprised his Resident Evil role in Resident Evil: Extinction, followed up by Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins and Hancock in 2008. He also played Black Doug in The Hangover in 2009.
When Epps isn’t filming, he is touring the country and performing his comedy act, The Mike Epps On the Edge Tour to sold-out theaters and arenas across the country.
While Epps has played some diverse roles, he is quick to point out that they are merely roles and do not define who he is. When fans mistake Epps for one of his characters, he frequently makes it part of his comedy routine.
“I learned that you don’t have to be all over the place, that you can be subtle and you can say what you say,” said Epps. “The words that you put together can be just as hilarious as falling all over the place or doing something.”
Epps looks to old movies and television comedy to help develop his craft. A key inspiration was the role of Ed Norton in The Honeymooners.
“I can remember when I was a baby and my mother was there watching the show (The Honeymooners).I went and bought 100 episodes and watched them,” he said during an interview before his remake of the movie was released. “I respect it so much that the sitcom itself and Ed Norton; I’m not playing Ed Norton but my version of it, cause I’m a black man.”
“I watch old school fi lm so that I can learn so much that I just sort of miss all the new stuff,” he continued.
Epps takes his success in stride, noting, “I’m a survivor of life. I try to give the glory to God and appreciate what’s happening to me. I’m gonna have to develop myself. I’m just going to do the best that I can do, but I’m humble enough to wait and just chill. I’m having fun just working with these good people.”
Epps will be joined on stage by comedienne Sheryl Underwood. Underwood, a former member of the armed forces and has two master’s degrees frequently makes jokes about “all the creative places you can get busy on a military base.”
Underwood refers to herself as “a sexually progressive, God-fearing, black Republican,” and is best known for her stand-up, but has had some time on the big screen.
The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets for the event range in price from $46 to $55. Tickets may be purchased at the Crown Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets. For more information, visit www.atthecrown.com.