Episode #13: Lil Rel Howery

This summer couldn’t be hotter for Lil Rel.

Lil Rel Howery co-stars as one of the Friends of the People, the sketch show currently in its second season on truTV, plays Jerrod Carmichael’s brother (and David Alan Grier’s son) in the new NBC sitcom, The Carmichael Show, that debuts this Wednesday, and has Kevin Hart presenting his first-ever hourlong stand-up comedy special, RELevant, premiering Sept. 5, 2015, on Comedy Central.

LilRel_KevinHart“I got excited when I first get the stuff,” he tells me. “After that it becomes work and I see what happens.”

Lil Rel’s career in entertainment began in church plays at the age of 10 in West Chicago, and while still a teen, he started sneaking into local comedy clubs and getting onstage — where he still remembers what the club’s DJ would spin to play him off if he bombed. From there, he began hosting Wednesday nights at Jokes and Notes, where he could build his own audience. After two years, he quit while he was ahead.

“I wanted more. I needed more. I saw myself doing more,” he told me.

He was still in Chicago in 2010 when I first saw him, warming up the audience at The Chicago Theatre for Cedric the Entertainer’s Urban Circus special on TBS, filmed during the Just For Laughs festival there.

Howery told me about growing up watching Louie Anderson’s late-late-night stand-up comedy showcase on NBC, what he learned from Ced that 2010 night in Chicago, touring with Ricky Smiley, keeping his cool while working his way up the ladder — first in Chicago, then in Hollywood.

And he relives the moments in 2012 when he went to Montreal to be feted as one of Variety’s Comics to Watch, and how the death of the In Living Color reboot gave birth to the pitch for what became Friends of the People.

Lil Rel talks about his on-camera friends and going back to Chicago to film his first hour special at the Vic Theatre.

You may have seen Lil Rel previously perform stand-up on Last Comic Standing, Russell Simmons Presents Stand-Up at the El Rey, Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand Up, Diddy’s Bad Boys of Comedy, The Arsenio Hall Show, Shaq’s All Star Comedy Jam, Comic View, and Comedy Underground with Dave Attell.

You can follow Lil Rel now on Twitter @LilRel4 or Instagram @comedianlilrel.

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Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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