To celebrate Martin Lawrence’s first stand-up special in 14 years, Martin Lawrence Doin’ Time Uncut, which premiered last month on Showtime, I recently got on the phone with the comedian to talk about getting back on stage. As you might expect with Lawrence, nothing is off-limits, as he talks about everything from sex and relationships to President Obama, Bill Cosby, Hollywood and more.
During the interview he talked about his writing process, how he tests out his material, if anything is off-limits, his favorite part of being on the road, what fans always want to talk about, his early career in films like House Party and Boomerang, what it’s like being friends with Eddie Murphy after being a fan, if he’ll ever direct again, and more. And for fans of the Bad Boys franchise, he confirms they’re hard at work on Bad Boys 3. Check out what he had to say below. Martin Lawrence Doin’ Time Uncut is now available on DVD and digital download including iTunes, Amazon, X-Box, and Google Play.
Finally, Martin Lawrence is currently on tour. Click here to see if he’s playing in your area.
MARTIN LAWRENCE: Steve, how you doing?
COLLIDER: How are you doing sir?
LAWRENCE: I’m good. Thank you.
I have to jump right in, so first of all great to see you back in the ring if you will.
LAWRENCE: Yes, thank you.
Talk a little bit about your writing process. Because it’s been a number of years since your last stand-up special. Have you been writing jokes along the way or was it when you decided to get back in you said, “Okay now I gotta write my material.”
LAWRENCE: Nah, I’ve been writing along the way. I’ve had materials for years that I’ve written down and it was just a matter of time for me to go to the comedy clubs and try them out and stuff like that. So I’ve been writing them down as I go along.
Well talk a little bit about testing your material. I mean certain comics like to go to a smaller club and try things out and see what’s working. But you’re possibly a little too famous to go into a small little room and not have someone with a phone.
LAWRENCE: That’s not true at all. No matter how famous I am I still go to small clubs and work material out and everything else. That’s a treat for everyone else to fans that get somebody on my level to come into a comedy club smoke filled room and bless the mic that night. You know, that’s what I do. I go in those comedy clubs and I work out.
Well talk a little bit about how the material changed. I’m curious about when you first write down a joke…is it pretty much what you write is gonna end up on stage or how much of the material is getting refined along the way?
LAWRENCE: Well it depends, it depends when you try a joke out I mean if it works then it is what it is. But if you try the joke out and then you can better the joke and add something to the joke and make it better then it just all gets better.
Well if you could talk a little bit about the show Martin Lawrence Doin’ Time: Uncut it’s pretty raw. Is there ever a line you refuse to cross or is everything fair game?
LAWRENCE: Fair game for me. I don’t edit myself in my comedy. It’s my one man show and me with a mic that’s what I do. That’s what I’ve been doing my whole stand up career.
Well I want to jump into directing. You directed one thing A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and I’ve always been wondering was getting back as a director something that you’d ever want to pursue or did you just do it once and said that’s enough?
LAWRENCE: Well yeah once is enough for me. I never say never that I wouldn’t do it again but it was one of the hardest things that I ever did. So I learned a lot about it and I learned how easy it’s not. So I’m not in a rush to get back into doing that.
It’s funny I’ve spoken to a lot of people, a lot of actors, and after they direct their first thing they have a whole new appreciation for directors. Is that what happened with you?
What’s the one piece of advice you would give people after director your first thing?
LAWRENCE: Be prepared. Be prepared to answer all questions. Be prepared to make decisions for everything.
You’re on the road doing stand-up from now to December. What’s your favorite part of being on the road?
LAWRENCE: The camaraderie with the fellas, with the team. When we go out, go to restaurants, get stuff to eat and just seeing the city and the people and everything.
When you’re on the road are you still writing new material or how does your set change when you’re on the road?
LAWRENCE: Well it doesn’t really change. A joke might get better I might add to it or something like. Or if a joke does come up and we can add it in the show we add it in the show. So I have room to add or take out either way.
Does it ever get old people like me asking you about Bad Boys movies?
LAWRENCE: [Laughs] Does it get old. No it doesn’t get old, yet.