Mike Epps brings touch of “Friday” this Friday

Epps says comedy keeps him sane—watch him self-sooth tonight at the Palms

From his days on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam to his breakthrough performance as Day-Day Jones in the Friday franchise, Mike Epps has successfully made the transition from stand-up comedian to actor. But telling jokes in front of live audiences will always be Epps’ first love. Before he hits Las Vegas for a stop on his Uncut…Funny As F@#k tour, Epps spoke with Vegas Seven about not wanting to be funny all the time, becoming a rapper and if we’ll ever see another Friday movie.

You’re about to perform in Vegas again, what’s your favorite thing about the city?

Vegas reminds me of all the great stories I’ve heard about Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor and the Rat Pack performing in Vegas. Vegas has its own version of “showtime.” I’ve got to be clean and dressed to be ready for this kind of showtime. It’s a different type of Hollywood out there.

You’ve been doing stand-up for almost two decades. Does it ever get old?

Life always has material. People ask me why I do stand-up all the time. It’s definitely
therapy for me. If I wasn’t doing stand-up, I’d be sitting in a room talking to a psychiatrist every weekend. I get to go onstage and crack jokes out of things that usually would hurt my feelings or situations that I wouldn’t be able to say in casual conversation.

Do you ever wake up and say, “I don’t want to be funny today?”

No. Some days I just am funny. But you might catch me and I don’t feel like being funny. If you catch me upset? Shit … you’re just going to catch me upset. I’ll tell somebody in a minute that I don’t feel like playing. They’ll say, “Well, you’re a comedian.” And my next move from there is to figure out how to take them down after I told them that I didn’t feel like playing. People take advantage of the fact that you’re supposed to be funny. It makes it hard because this is just a job for me. When I get off that stage, it’s back to life. I have to be a father, a husband and a businessman as soon as I’m off the stage. When I’m on the stage, it’s a party! You can say anything you want to me, I’m going to tear your ass up after you say it, and we’re going to have a good-ass time.

You career is about making other people laugh, but what makes you laugh?

I laugh at everything! I’ve been dying laughing off of Councilman Weiner lately. That’s my
kind of comedy right there. I love to see somebody at that stature play themselves. People like Weiner and Arnold Schwarzenegger make me laugh.

Eminem used one of your jokes in the song “I’m On Everything” for his Bad Meets Evil album. Have you ever thought about being a rapper?

I’m a hip-hop comedian. I chose comedy, but my life could’ve gone either way. I could have been a rapper if I wanted to. I wouldn’t try to be a rapper now because my shit is probably terrible compared to theirs. I’d be sounding like Melle Mel compared to these new kids.

Are we ever going to see another Friday film?

A lot of people don’t understand the politics of movies. The Friday franchise started with Ice Cube and New Line Cinema. New Line Cinema owns the property. It’s not a Mike Epps or Ice Cube decision to make another movie. It’s the movie companies that own these films. It’s all about them giving us the revenue to make another film. I don’t know what’s going to happen. We might have to put another franchise out there.

Mike Epps at the Pearl at the Palms, 10 p.m. July 1, $50-85, 942-320.