You would be hard-pressed to find someone who has out hustled Marcus Banks over the last few years on the comedy circuit. From local host to being backed by one of the most powerful machines in the entertainment industry today, Marcus Banks has paid his dues, at all costs. Inspired by real life situations, he has poured his soul into comedy providing quality every time he hits the stage, be it as headliner or as a supporting act. His story is very real, and his goals, even realer. Parlé with me as I introduce you to the pride and joy of Lincoln Avenue, Specialyst Entertainments’/ Muscle Managements’ own Marcus Banks.
Parlé Magazine: When did you realize the comedic bone in your body? When did you know that it could turn into a career?
Marcus Banks: I realized I had a comedic bone in my body way back when I was getting kicked out of classes in elementary school, and being labeled the “class clown.” That happened for most of my elementary school career. I don’t know if I should say that was a good or bad thing, in hindsight. I didn’t necessarily see a future in it career wise, at that time. That realization came when I was in college; My roommate forced me to watch Mike Epps’ “Under Rated & Never Faded” DVD special. So shout-out to Stephen Watts for being a part of that moment.
Parlé: One of the things I commend you on is being very grounded, you never forget where you come from, how near and dear to your heart is Lincoln Ave?
Marcus Banks: Lincoln Ave is my heart that’s where my loyalty starts and forever will be.
Parlé:You donate to a number of special causes in your immediate neighborhood, how important is it to you to be very active in the uplifting of your community?
Marcus Banks: For me It’s very important to donate and be a part of uplifting my community. When it is all said and done, that’s where my support system is at. They are the ones who believe in me. I am a firm believer of “If you can’t make it in your backyard then you can’t make it anywhere.” So with that being said, I support who supports me and give what I can.
Parlé:You are affiliated with MMG through your inking with Muscle Management and the homie Geter K, can you tell us how that came together?
Marcus Banks: Me linking up with the whole MMG movement is a funny story because I met Torch & Gunplay at my friend Phil’s clothing store, The Fitted Gallery. At the time they were doing an in-store, signing CD’s and welcoming fans, etc. I gave my business card to Torch’s DJ, DJ Instynctz and ultimately at a later date, I met Geter at a showcase. Torch was the headliner, so it’s like all the pieces were falling together as we were all in the same place at the same time. I was hosting that night, and Geter was heckling me. If you know me, you know I couldn’t go for that. I said a couple jokes and the crowd went crazy; the look on his was priceless! After the show Geter and like 4 dudes were waiting by my car where I was much intimidated. He reached his hand out and said, “Hey I’m Geter K I represent Muscle Management I’ve heard great things about you, do you have management?’ After a couple meetings and business plans I took on the offer for myself to be part of Muscle Management.
Parlé:I want to get into your progression as a performer, as I have had the pleasure of seeing you perform many times over the years and you have definitely stepped it up. How hard was it to go from a person that is naturally funny to a professional and with that I am talking about the art of writing jokes, and actually putting together a set?
Marcus Banks: First off let me say that it is not as easy as some folks think it is seems. When it comes to telling jokes that’s one thing. You can be the star of the show with family & friends but to turn material into written jokes with punch lines and more, having to entertain hundreds or even thousands gives you a run for your money. That’s where you earn your stripes and become someone who can fill seats. I have a tight set at the moment but I’m working on having a tight hour special full of nonstop material where people could really see the growth; I’ve come from getting 3 minutes on stage getting boo’d at times (just keeping it real) to having 5 minutes on stage, getting good responses. Now I feel like I have reached a good point in my career, and am looking forward. Now-a-days most people say they cannot believe that I’ve only had three years to perfect my craft. I need the whole world to understand that there is more to come.
Parlé:You are an accomplished event host as well, what’s the best part of those engagements?
Marcus Banks: The best part of hosting an event is the networking aspect. You never know who is in the crowd and I make a point of working the room and developing new contacts. I love to receive advice from some of these artists, DJ’s and even these club promoters and owners. Another great part is the response you get from the crowd. It feels like your having a newborn child (no disrespect to the ladies).
Parlé: The buzz surrounding your Refund Check campaign is constantly building, take us back to when you put the idea in play, what was the goal? To date how do you feel about the response and anticipation?
Marcus Banks: The idea for “Refund Check” came one day while sitting at home contemplating ways to show people what I’m doing, where I came from, and where I’m trying to go. The name stems from me being a college dropout and that was the last thing I received from my college was a check of what I did not spend in my last semester. It was actually a refund check. Most folks don’t know, but I was homeless when I started doing comedy. I’m talking sleeping on the subways; my Uncle Jeff offered me a place to stay, which turned into the place I had my first show—HBX Studios. It was headlined by Talent Harris, and I can admit that it didn’t go too well. To come from then, to now, and have the response and anticipation be what it is, it’s a great feeling. People are waiting for it, I have nothing but gratitude and joy. As of yet we haven’t released a date for Refund Check but my mother always told me “Timing is everything.”
Parlé: You have some other dope ventures coming up as well with All Eyez On Me TV, as well as your participation in the comedy fundraiser this past weekend with Xtreme 104 FM, which of course was for a good cause. Touch on those a little bit.
Marcus Banks: Well legal issues that I can’t discuss have put a hold on All Eyes On Me TV. I am grateful for the fact that my good friend “Chill Will” put me in a great place to become one of the hosts for the show. Once everything is settled, we’ll be back filming, can’t wait to get back to work. Xtreme 104 FM reached out to me to be a part of their fundraising comedy show, and I was honored. It was definitely for a good cause, to benefit the St. Albans Montessori School in Queens, NY. It went down at the Black Spectrum Theater in Baisley, and we had a ball. Want to thank Xtreme 104 FM for the opportunity as well as everyone who came out to show support and have a good time.
Parlé: You’ve toured so much over the last year or so with the whole MMG and you have opened up for some great artists and legendary comedians, any one memory stands out in terms of when you felt like all the hard work paid off?
Marcus Banks: The greatest moment for me thus far was being the host of Gunplay’s “Acquitted Tour” in NYC at the legendary SOB’s. At that moment, I can say that I felt my hard work was paying off.
Parlé: Speaking of legends you are mentored by Talent, one of my favorites of all time; can you share any gems he has dropped on you about avoiding the pitfalls of success in that industry
Marcus Banks: Being mentored by Talent Harris comes with a lot of pressure of course, but also a great deal of knowledge being handed down. We’re talking about a dope comedian who has been in the business over 20 years. Who else better to learn from, then someone who has been there and been extremely successful. The best part, is he is very straightforward and does not sugar coat anything. If I am not on my A-game he will let me know. There’s been times where I got a standing ovation, and he pointed out ways for me to grow.