Comedian Bill Bellamy, 'Back to My Roots'

Actor and comedian Bill Bellamy talks about his new stand-up comedy DVD, Back to My Roots.

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ED GORDON, host:

I'm Ed Gordon and this is NEWS & NOTES.

Actor and comedian Bill Bellamy has been performing on the small and big screens for years. Now he's trying something new. The comic is releasing "Back to my Roots," a DVD of his latest stand-up routine. The DVD captures the veteran of the comedy circuit at his high-energy best.

(Soundbite from "Back to my Roots")

Mr. BILL BELLAMY (Actor, Comedian): Black people understand this, from anybody from 25 to 35, the divorce rate is 85 percent. Did you know that? We get married, break up at the reception.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BELLAMY: Girl be ready to cut the cake, `Oo, this--what'd you say? You know what? I knew this (censored) wasn't gonna work. You know what? That's all right. Come on, girls, let's go. We back in the game. (Censored) him. I told him I don't eat strawberry, whatever.'

(Soundbite of laughter and applause)

GORDON: The former MTV "Jams"' host made a name for himself as a swinging single in films like "How to be a Player" and "Love Jones." Now Bellamy says that being married and being a father of a two-year-old daughter has changed his comedy and his life quite a bit.

Mr. BELLAMY: It's like a lot of growing up, you know what I'm saying? I mean, I'm the dude who was doing how to be a player, you know what I'm saying, the single dude, partying all the time. You know, now I've gotta--I (unintelligible) Cosco and I've gotta a baby carriage. I'm, like, so on some grown man's stuff right now, it's crazy, like reading to my daughter, you know, spending time with my wifey, you know what I'm saying. We doing family stuff, going to the aquarium. The beauty of comedy is, like, your life is really a movie, like, you know, how I'm living, what I'm feeling. I could talk about it.

(Soundbite from "Back to my Roots")

Mr. BELLAMY: Girls, you ever ask a woman how long she been married? Women know it off the top of their head, don't they? They're, like, `Girl, how long you been married?' `Seven years. We dated four and our anniversary's on the 26th.'

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BELLAMY: You ever ask a guy how long he been married? You ask a guy how long he been married, he almost describe it like it's a prison sentence, you know? Be, like, `Yo, Dog, how long you been married, man?' `Eighteen long (censored) years, Dog. It's cool, you know what I'm saying. You get used to it and (censored).'

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BELLAMY: `Hey, you know, you learn how to work with the system. You feel me?'

I was the dude that was funny around as boys, but, you know, when you tell me--you put me in a room with a hundred people and I gotta microphone now, I had to stand there and they're looking at you, like, `Man, you better make me laugh,' that pressure is crazy. It's another level, you know what I'm saying, because you have to figure out: What is Bill Bellamy gonna talk about? When I started realizing that being honest is the best way for me, just talk about what I'm really feeling, oh, my God. That's where you--that's electric right there because people know what's real.

(Soundbite from "Back to my Roots")

Mr. BELLAMY: First of all, my mama had what we call mama talk. Now before we go to visit somebody, me and my sister, soon as we get out to the car, my mama would have a little meeting with us. She pull up, close the door (makes sound of door closing). `Come here. You and your sister get over here right now. Now we going inside to visit these people, but we not gonna be here that long 'cause Mama don't like these people. Now when we get inside, we gonna act like we got some sense, you understand? And I see you and your sister doing some (censored) you know you ain't supposed to do, what's gonna happen, kids?' `Everything.' `You damn right, everything is gonna happen. Now I want you-all to listen me 'cause I'm only gonna say this one time: Ain't nobody hungry.'

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BELLAMY: `You heard what I said, ain't nobody hungry. You-all ate last week.'

GORDON: On the new DVD, Bellamy reflects not only on his childhood but on public issues, like terrorism and the R. Kelly sex tape. But the funnyman also has a serious side, and like the rest of us, he's been moved by Katrina.

Mr. BELLAMY: I don't think it's a color thing. It's a class issue to me. If you poor, people ain't really tripping off you. But let's be real, man. I don't understand how that could happen with all the money and the technology we have. It's crazy. Every time you think about it, there's no other way to explain it but other than it's crazy. You know, if that was a really, really prominent, rich area, they would have held the water. They would have found some way. `Yo, get some boats up here, we gonna call Princess Cruiselines. We gonna line 'em up. All the people gonna be on the boats. We gonna take them to Cancun till this stuff cool off. You understand?' But soon as it's some poor people, let the water roll! People flying all over the place. You know black people can't swim. My mama can't swim. So if you told my mama there is water in the kitchen and my--it was to my mama's ankle, she think she gonna drown. She gonna sit right in the kitchen till you-all come get her. She not even gonna get on the roof. I'm giving props to the black people that got to the roof. My mama would've been in the kitchen making some sweet potato pie.

GORDON: Bellamy often gives even the most serious topic a comedic treatment. What he takes very seriously is the importance of giving back to his community.

Mr. BELLAMY: I am going to set up a foundation, right? Every inner city kid is gonna get an opportunity to get a break out like I did. Like, if you go to school, you gotta get good grades and do that stuff. I don't care if you're in, like, the worst public school, private school, whatever it is, but you're gonna have help to get to the next level. And I want people that are artistic. I just think the arts just fly. So that is the thing that I wanna do outside of the entertainment game because I really wanna go back to the inner city and just, like, you know, inspire these kids, man. That's all they want, man, 'cause I feel like I'm regular. If I could get out, I feel like this should be an express lane for cats, you know what I'm saying, but it's all about dreaming, too, though. You gotta dream big.

GORDON: Comedian Bill Bellamy. His new debut stand-up DVD "Back to my Roots" hits stores today.

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