Our Spotlight On Brooklyn Native, Comedian Kareem Green
The job of a comedian is never ending, from the moment they sit down to work out their material until they hit the stage and perform in front of a crowd, whether it be in front of a sold out crowd or just a few drunks, every moment on and off stage goes to perfecting this every evolving craft. Comedians who’ve been performing for a while know the importance of keeping fresh material. Comedian Kareem Green is no stranger to the game. You may recognize his name most recently from Russell Simmon’s Presents The Ruckus, which aired on Comedy Central. But Kareem has also been featured on Comic View on BET, Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes and in 2009, he won first place for the Bay Area Black Comedy Competition which included over 70 comedians. I was not only fortunate enough to sit down with Kareem to discuss his career, but I was also able to see him perform.
Kareem Green, the native New Yorker found his natural calling as a youth but didn’t quite know what to do with his talent until he got much older. “I started doing comedy because I kept getting fired from my jobs, so I had to find something to do. I always knew I wanted to be famous but I didn’t know what it would be for so I started doing this comedy as a way of getting attention.” Kareem was determined not to settle for the 9 to 5 hustle so he tried out comedy and surprisingly it worked for him.
I was fortunate enough to see Kareem Green perform live, the first two acts that went up before him were heckled mercilessly by the unforgiving crowd but as soon as Kareem hit the stage, he commanded respect from the audience and won them over. I had to ask, how was he able to work such a hostile room? “It all comes from experience and reading the room. I pay attention to what everyone’s doing. The typical comic will just work the crowd once he gets on stage but I take the time out to get a feel of the energy and vibe of the crowd.”
Kareem describes his particular brand of comedy as “The Truth” or observational humor. “I come from a truthful place and that’s how I’ve been able to connect with people on stage.” He then explained how it’s important to be truthful to the audience while on stage because if you aren’t, the crowd will be able to tell. “People love me because I speak the truth and they know it.”
A lot of comedians cover a wide range of topics and many of them may even share the same opinion about their subjects, which is why you may hear comics tell similar jokes about the same issue, but Kareem makes it his goal to set himself apart from other comics. “I talk about the things we all do through that may seem embarrassing at the time, but there’s truth and humor in it,” Kareem says. “I don’t really know who I could compare myself too, there are a lot of people that have influenced me, but I tend to try to do my own thing instead of copying theirs.”
Kareem recalls the first time he went up on stage at an open mic to perform, “I was nervous as hell, when I started my set there was this woman heckling me the whole time but by the end of it, she was like my biggest fan. I got off stage and all the other comedians hi-fived me, it was amazing.” Bringing joy and laughter into people’s lives is hard enough as it is but sometimes when a comic is performing in front of an audience, they get people who want to heckle them. I had to ask Kareem, how does he deal with the hecklers in his set? “It’s different for everyone but I take heckling personal, I’m at work and when you heckle me you’re destroying my future work. Doing a set at one club can lead to another club, which could lead to something big but when someone heckles, that’s slowing my work. If you don’t like someone’s act, go to the bar get a drink or go outside for a smoke, don’t interrupt someone from working. You’re also ruining other people’s evening that came to enjoy a show and that’s selfish.” Kareem also ensures that if anyone wants to heckle his show that he’ll go “straight for the jugular”. “Whatever’s wrong with you that I can find, I’ll bring it to light.”
Kareem Green offers advice for aspiring comedians: “Be original. If you want to actually be good at this, work on your craft, don’t steal other people’s material. You can be influenced by other people but it’s best to be original and originality is a big part of it.”
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