Well, actually, he's on the phone. But that's the first thing he says when I answer the phone: "Earthquake is in the building." So who am I to argue?
The comedian said he's looking forward to returning to Indianapolis, a place that's always been receptive to his comedy. He's performed here many times, attended Circle City Classic games and come to hang out with then-Pacers Jalen Rose and Haywoode Workman.
"It's one of my favorite places to perform," he says. "Coming there for Black Expo just makes it even sweeter."
Here's the rest of the conversation:
NUVO: You make a lot of jokes about black people being late. So what time is your show going to start?
Earthquake: It's scheduled for 11 o'clock, so probably 11:15.
NUVO: That's not too bad. And you were right on time when you called.
Earthquake: Yes, yes, I am. Just mocking the stereotype. That's all.
NUVO: Does it become a stereotype because it's true?
Earthquake: No, it's just because certain people who do that are the loudest people in the wagon. That's not the wagon.
NUVO: Who gave you the name Earthquake?
Earthquake: My mother did. She said anytime you take every precaution not to get pregnant -- a diaphragm, the pill and making a man wear a condom -- there's nothing else you can name that child but a natural disaster.
NUVO: When you're writing, do you make yourself laugh?
Earthquake: All the time. But I don't write. I just flow with a thought and just elaborate on that thought. That's where my comedy comes from.
NUVO: Do you have such a good memory that you can remember the jokes and repeat them night after night?
Earthquake: I say the same [basic idea], but I never say it the same way. That way, it keeps it fresh for me and my audience.
NUVO: Doesn't that make you nervous?
Earthquake: No, but it does make me have to protect my environment because they tape my shows. So I've been through a lot of stuff that made my shows not where I want them to be because I was forced to be in certain environments. But now that I've got my independence again, it will never happen again.
NUVO: Explain what you mean.
Earthquake: I went through a divorce, and that keeps you in a situation legally. I've never been in any legal situation ever. My freedom is the most important thing. I think that's the most important thing for any person -- to be able to do what you want to do when you want to do it. I have always had that freedom. And when you're into that kind of situation that affects your comedy.
NUVO: Did that make it harder to go on stage, or was it easier because it was a relief?
NUVO: Before you were a comic, you were in the Air Force for 11 years. What's funny about the military?
Earthquake: Just the grouping of the different races, geographical location, with one common goal. I'm from Washington, D.C., and my first roommate was from Quincy, Ala. Just to see that we have more in common than we had differences, that was funny. But when you find the differences, that's hilarious.
NUVO: What was the biggest difference?
Earthquake: My loud music. He didn't like my choice of music. He liked country. I told him I love my dog and I don't have a pickup.
NUVO: I read that you own a comedy club in Atlanta.
Earthquake: I did own a comedy club for five years. I'm out of the comedy club business.
NUVO: How was it to own a comedy club?
Earthquake: It was beautiful. But I had a difference of opinion with the other owners.
NUVO: You were Uncle Mike on Everybody Hates Chris, which I think may be the most underrated TV show of all time. Tell me about your experiences on the show.
Earthquake: It was all great. It was the first TV show I was on that I didn't have to audition for. They treated me so well, and it was such a close family. I shot one scene where all I had on was my drawers. And it was so cold. Even the lotion I had on got cold. It just jumped off my body. It was like, "You got to do this on your own." The lotion refused to come to work.
NUVO: You said you didn't have to audition. Did you know Chris Rock?
Earthquake: Yeah, I've known Chris for a while. He performed at my club.
NUVO: In your comedy, you like to use the n-word. Why?
Earthquake: It's just a thing that comes off my tongue. I have a different perspective on racism, period. I look at racism and the n-word like any other obstacle: You just have to overcome it. I don't give it more weight than any other obstacle. I think you empower the other person in their point of view when you give it so much credence.
I wish somebody would call me the n-word. Litigation is the way to come up. "You called me 'n.' I wasn't doing nothing. You wrecked my self-esteem. Now, you're financially responsible for my existence. Come on. Take care of me. Standard of living is the most important thing when you live in a capitalist society. So he's entitled to his opinion. But now he's going to have to prove it. If you can't prove it, I'm going to sue you."
NUVO: That's hilarious. Was that part of your act, or are you just riffing?
Earthquake: A long, long, long time ago. I have to find that -- I know I've got it on tape somewhere. I used to say, "I'm a Catholic. I'm on my way to Boston right now to say one of those priests played with me. That's the way to come up. Who was it? I don't know. It was one of them with a collar on. I couldn't tell. I had my head down. Just give me one of them checks."
I'd say, "Boy, I'd go to a racist neighborhood right now. Let 'em call me the n-word. I'll just fall right on their porch. I ain't going nowhere. 'He called me the n-word. He killed my self-esteem. I'm gonna stay right here. He's gotta take care of me. I need psychotherapy and college to prove that I'm not that. It's his responsibility to fund that because he brought it to my attention.'"
NUVO: You had a great joke a while back about what a great motivational speaker Osama bin Laden is. Did you get any grief for that?
Earthquake: No, not really. Because it's true. You've gotta be a great motivational speaker to get people to blow themselves up while your ass goes down the road and makes drop tapes like Puffy and Tupac.
NUVO: My favorite joke of yours is: Being married is like having cable with one channel. What's your favorite joke?
Earthquake: No one gets it, but I say, It was so cold in Chicago, it makes illegal aliens turn themselves in to immigration. "I messed up and snuck too far up north. This ain't Arizona. Call Fox News. They're looking for me. I know my rights. You're supposed to deport me. You owe me a ticket back home. I didn't pay $400 to be snuck up to this country to come to Chicago. There ain't no oranges up here, ain't no grass to cut. I'm illegal. Send me back home."
They don't get it, but I think it's hilarious, personally.