Thursday, January 7, 2010

JOKERS: Esau McGraw

People from Kansas City may know him as Esau, the barber, some even know him as the preachers’ kid, but after 11 years of cracking jokes, most people know him as Esau McGraw, the comedian and actor. Even those who don’t know his name, probably remember his hilarious characters or jokes about his girlfriend, who talks in her sleep or his funny parodies of popular songs.
Esau, says he knew at age 8 that he had a sincere interest in comedy but didn’t take it seriously until well into his adult years. In fact, he was a working barber when some friends entered him in to a talent showcase and with seven minutes of material he won, and has been joking ever since.
As expected, over the 11 year span of his career his material has changed. He said his first jokes were about him thinking Superman was gay because he never sexed Lois Lane, and because he wears tights. Now people remember him for different reasons. He got big laughs on Def Comedy Jam in 2006 when he came on stage with his jacket tucked inside his pants doing his best George Jefferson-like walk. And then tucked it back in his pants again as he left the stage. Other people know his songs like “Overweightass People”, sang to the same rhythm as John Legends tune “Ordinary People”. Simply put, Esau is making a name for himself.

Since moving to Hollywood he has racked up a decent list of credits including a role in the film Idlewild, appearing on Def Comedy Jam and appearing on the highest rated episode of Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment. Even with those stellar moments, he still ranks something else among the highlights of his career. Recently Eddie Murphy came up to him and complimented him telling Esau him that he is funny. Esau compares that to the Pope getting out of his seat and coming to shake his hand. “That shit will never happen,” he says jokingly.
For many young comics, Def Comedy Jam was influential in their decision to pursue comedy. However, Esau says, he watched Richard Pryor, Franklin Ajaye and that Def Jam only confirmed that there was a market for Black comedy. He is a self professed student of comedy, constantly writing, watching and performing. “I didn’t know how important writing (jokes) was until I started doing comedy” he admits. He says his life was boring growing up the son of a minister and a nurse. As a result, he doesn’t have a lot of the stories that some comics draw from, so instead he exaggerates his life. A lot of his material is impromptu, even hard to decipher the written stuff from the “off the cuff” jokes because he flows seamlessly to the next topic.
Even being the son of a preacher, no topic is off limits. His father is encouraging and according to Esau, living variously through him. “I think he’d be a comedian if he wasn’t a preacher,” he affirms. His father also likes the perks of having a son in the entertainment industry. For example, free tickets. Esau can usually call the headlining comic if there’s a show dad wants to attend and get free tickets.
For now Esau hits the road as often as possible taking his brand of comedy around the country. In addition to auditions he gets his chance to shine every week in LA’s Comedy Factory during the Chocolate Sundays showcase.

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