When I was informed that I’d be writing my piece on Capone the comedian, I must admit, I was extremely excited. I actually lived with this man for two weeks, years ago with one of his children. It’s amazing to see how far he has come along compared to where the journey began. Born, Derrick Lee, his name, Capone represents the fact that he gets down to business. Over the years he has done just that going from a drug dealer to comedian. Now as one of the New York Kings of Comedy and the undisputed Gangster of Comedy, he has proved to the world many times over that he is to be taken seriously, and that is no funny business.
The drug game doesn’t make for a promising career and Capone knew that, but it wasn’t until he received a 9 month jail sentence that the point was actually reinforced. Shortly thereafter he took to comedy. Early on however, he did not receive much support from his peers. “I wasn’t even considered a comedian. I was considered a clown, being that I even thought about turning my life into that,” Capone explains. That did not stop Capone; he was on a mission to succeed and he was focused.
Back in high school Capone considered himself more of a bully than a class clown. But there was something in his antics as a youth that led him towards comedy. His first gig was at a competition in 2002 where he tied with Rudy Rush. Soon after he was a special guest at the Apollo on Amateur Night where Shirley Mathews (producer) saw something special in him and gave him the chance to host Amateur Night. “She saw something in me and took it from there, asking me to be the regular host for Amateur Night every Wednesday.” Capone has been hosting Amateur Night at the Apollo on and off ever since for about 9 years. He also hosted Showtime at the Apollo for 6 years.
Not only does he host Amateur Night but he is also one of the comedians starring in the new DVD, Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam – Live from Orlando, which was released October 8, 2012. The DVD will surely make you laugh til it hurts. One of five comedians on the DVD, Capone is the closer. He likes to think of his own comedy as “raw,” because he gets down to it and is not afraid to speak up.
Although he has been around the world with his comedy and has been all over television and film, Capone is still humbled by every opportunity he receives. He was very happy to be included in the All Star Comedy line-up, the third time around. “It was an honor to be a part of that. There’s a thousand comedians out here doing their thing and to be chosen to make things like that happen was a big deal. I just felt good about the situation, period.” Capone’s was featured in the movie Paper Soldiers with Kevin Hart and Death of a Dynasty. He’s been featured on several Hip-Hop albums throughout his career including projects from Wyclef Jean and Drag-On doing skits. He was also the headliner two years in a row for Def Comedy Jam. “My set was so strong on Def Jam that they actually did put me on back-to-back, which they never do two years in a row.” Most recently Capone starred in Zane’s Cinemax show, The Sex Chronicles, based on her hit book series.
Considering how busy he is it is amazing that he makes time to teach a comedy class, sell cars at a dealership and roller skate in addition to his stand-up. Yes, roller skate! “I think that’s the thing that keeps me in my youth,” the ‘Gangster’ explains.
At the current moment Capone is working extremely hard on “Comedian Capone TV,” his pet project. He also took time to advocate for voting during our interview, urging everyone to exercise their right to vote. Capone wants to make it very clear because he has been there and done that. “Even though you have a felony there’s always ways of getting your right back to vote,” he enlightened. He also made sure to point out that his vote was going to Barack Obama this November.
Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam – Live from Orlando is available in stores everywhere now. After you check that out, you can reach out to Capone on Twitter @ComedianCapone.
Written by Chlea Ramirez
*Additional reporting by Christina Isaacs