The comedy and acting star makes no statements, but has plenty of jokes about cannabis
He doesn’t look it but he is almost 40 years old. Michael Blackson has tons of signature lines, mostly due to his Ghanaian accent he can turn on at will. Most remember him from Ice Cube’s “Next Friday,” (2000) but few know he broke out in 1993 at the “Schlitz Malt Liquor Comedy Tour” (we wish we had that souvenir t-shirt by the way) in Valley Forge, PA. His 2005 sketch comedy CD made serious bank, and was impeccably titled: “Modasucka: Welcome to America.” His traditional african dashiki that he wears on stage is just a schtick, he isn’t campaigning for cultural awareness. He is back in a black leather jacket minutes after his set. Blackson says every comedian needs a thing that makes him identifiable. And with stunts like going on the “Judge Joe Brown” TV show in 2011 as a defendant for missing a gig (he lost FYI), his promotional strategy is definitely not the same old playbook.
Currently on tour, and opening for Comedian Starmaker Paul Mooney, a truly coveted spot for any comic – 4E caught up with Michael Blackson backstage at the Moore Theater in Seattle.
4E: Do people take what you say too seriously?
Michael Blackson: “Comedy definitely changed my life. It helped me care less about things that we worry about too much. You can make fun of everything. I like taking things that are sad and turning them into jokes.”
4E: You’re all over the world, what’s different about Seattle?
Michael Blackson: “I get in last night, I can barely sleep. I find out why they call this shit Sleepless in Seattle. It’s rainy. It’s gloomy. I did a gig in Saudi Arabia, last month, and all people did is smoke. Not weed, that’s illegal and you’ll get like 10 years in jail, but they just smoke cigarettes and you know why? There is no such thing as ‘girlfriend,’ you have to be married. So you don’t have sex, and when you don’t have sex you smoke. In the show I couldn’t talk about religion, sex or profanities. That’s like my whole act!”
“I’m bout to go on stage like ‘hello, goodnight.’ I got there three days before and checked out the place, I found out about their culture and was impressed that I had to get creative. I told these guys ‘man with all these restrictions I can probably do 15 minutes.’ Then I went up there and did about 40. If you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything. But weed will not help you, it will make you forget all that shit.”
4E: So people smoke in Seattle to cope with the lack of sunshine?
Michael Blackson: “The weather here has got you so bad, you gotta smoke. Or get drunk. I mean you’re like 2 hours from Alaska. If you’re smoking weed here what the fuck are they doing in Alaska? They are probably smokin’ everything. But besides the rain it’s not that bad. I was in Alaska seven months ago and you gotta pay me a lot more to go up there.”
4E: People must assume you use cannabis, but that’s not actually true right?
Michael Blackson: “My whole African discipline and drugs, I don’t know nothing about that. I never got high a day in my life. Everywhere I go people tell me I got that shit, and I’m like I got my own shit modafuckah. I’m high for life. I do research. That stuff makes you hungry and makes you forget shit. As skinny as I am I don’t want to forget how to eat. People are looking for whatever excuse to smoke weed man. Pretty soon they are gonna tell you weed will make you wake up early, and get to work on time. Weed will make you beautiful. Just smoke it, and tax it. If you smoke weed it won’t rain, at least not where you are.”
4E: Why the dashiki on stage?
Michael Blackson: “This brings my character to life, this changed my whole career. I was just like any other comic. I had a slight accent, but the thing about this industry is you gotta look different. It gives people something to remember you by. You can tell me I look like black Jesus if you want, I don’t care. You might not remember my name, but you know the African guy. It’s part of my whole get-up. It’s not cultural, it’s not a statement. I’ve been in America too long and I lost all my statements.”