Mike Epps, one of the biggest stand-up comedians in the business, can arguably be found a lot more "on set" than he can on stage, these days.
He's acting so much you can only guess what set he's actually on. It could be for the Starz original series Survivor's Remorse (executive produced by Lebron James), where Epps plays the uncle to a young hotshot basketball player wading through the success, excess and pitfalls of superstardom. It could also be on the set where he's playing an iconic uncle, Uncle Buck, a soon-to-be-released ABC sitcom based on the John Candy comedy classic.
The Indiana native's acting career has come a long way since his on-screen breakthrough as Day-Day in 2000's Next Friday alongside Ice Cube, but he wouldn't have stood out if it wasn't for stand-up. Epps' unwavering energy, affable personality, in-your-face delivery and mix of observational, raunchy and personal humor is infectious. It knocked audiences out when he made his TV stand-up debut on HBO's Def Comedy Jam back in the 1990s, and he's still leaving crowds in stitches when he's not on film or television.
Lexington area audiences can see for themselves when Epps plays six shows between Friday and Sunday at Comedy Off Broadway.
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In between an extensive film career, Epps has always found the time to tour clubs, theaters and, now, even arenas while writing and producing stand-up specials such as 2006's Inappropriate Behavior, 2009's Under Rated...Never Faded & X-Rated and 2011's Mike Epps Presents: Live From Club Nokia. By the sound of it, Mike Epps' upcoming Netflix comedy special, Don't Take It Personal, will continue to touch a few nerves while triggering laughs.
"I'm on there saying some stuff. That's what comics do," Epps, 44, said in a recent interview on The Breakfast Club radio show on New York's Power 105.1. "That's what I get paid for. People's always shocked when we say something we ain't got no business saying, but I'm a comedian. That's what I'm supposed to say."
The way things are falling into place for Epps, he may become a household name while being known for more than just the go-to guy for laughs. He recently took a serious turn playing the love interest opposite Queen Latifah in the HBO TV movie Bessie about the life of blues legend Bessie Smith. He was cast in the upcoming cop drama Term Life with co-stars Vince Vaughn and Hailee Steinfeld. But in 2014, it was announced Epps perhaps landed the role of a lifetime when he was picked to play the comic icon Richard Pryor, both in a supporting role in the upcoming biopic Nina about the life of Nina Simone and later as the title character in Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? helmed by acclaimed director Lee Daniels.
There isn't a particular date announced when audiences will get the chance to go to movie theaters to see Epps play a comedy legend. But there is a chance this weekend for Lexington audiences to catch Epps in his true element and see, quite possibly, a legend in the making.