Comedian Tony T. Roberts, also known as the “Sergeant of Comedy,” credits his background in the Army for not having a big ego as he’s moved up the ranks in the comedy world with specials like “I’m Different” and online parody videos including “Colonic.”
“A lot of people don’t believe in the military and government, and things like that,” said Roberts, who added that he spent seven years in the Army and left as a sergeant. “I encourage every young guy or female to go into the military for at least three years. It does something to you. It gets you ready for the rest of your life. You’ll see and live around different nationalities and travel. You’ll see how other people live. You appreciate everything you have.”
Roberts believes it has even helped him in his career.
“Most young comics are so spoiled. They want so much money so fast. They want to skip over all the hurdles. They want it right now — they think they want it now — but you get it too fast, you lose your mind. It’s been proven. All the uphill climb, it helped me,” he said. “It really helped me to have a perspective. No matter what I’ve been through, it wasn’t something I hadn’t been through in the Army.”
Roberts, a Detroit native who now lives in Sacramento, is in the lineup of KDAY Presents: Komedy Xxplosion! with comedians Mike Epps, DeRay Davis and Corey Holcomb, which comes to the Forum in Inglewood tonight.
Known for his quick-witted and nonstop energy act, Roberts likes to just relax away from the stage.
“I’m kind of shy,” Roberts admitted. “When I’m on stage, when my name gets called, I explode. But I don’t like people talking to me a lot. I’ll just sit in my room and do my own thing. I say my prayer before I leave the house. ... Some people do push-ups. Some smoke marijuana. ... I’ll usually watch the first seven minutes of an act. You can never underestimate a crowd. You’re not watching to see if he’s funny. You want to see how the crowd reacts to jokes.”
Still, Roberts, who is married with three children, said he aims to be engaging, a “painting the picture” comedic style he attributes to his parents.
“My mother is real fast. She is real funny, a great sense of humor. My dad is real quick, but laid-back. I know I get my sense of humor from them combined,” Roberts said. “My thing for improv, I just love painting the picture for people. I talk about everything. Like a one-man play. I like to paint the picture for people. I’m always thinking ahead. This will be funny. This will be funnier. So I go with the second one.”
His three children also have been a source of comedic inspiration.
“My daughter was getting ready for a spelling test ... One of the words was few. I said, ‘Put it in a sentence.’ She said, ‘Few, that was close,’ ” he said, with a laugh.
And he can’t wait to bring all those influences to the stage with his fellow comics.
“It’s a reunion,” he said. “We all feel like this should be a reality show. This should be filmed. Sometimes you can get some guys who don’t want to go last or they’ll try to host, but everybody here knows their strengths and weaknesses. I can close the whole show, which I can do and I’ve done a lot of times. I got a lot of energy. I’m back-to-back with the jokes. I’m kind of hard to follow — a lot of comics are intimidated by that — but with these comedians, everybody holds their own.”
Roberts said one of his biggest accomplishments was getting a BET (Black Entertainment Television) Robin Harris Award for most original comic more than a decade ago.
“I was new in comedy and I hadn’t been doing it that long,” said Roberts, whose first television appearance was on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” before moving to “Showtime at the Apollo” and “BET’s Comic View.” “It was crazy, man. Everybody always steals other people’s jokes. Everything under the sun has been talked about. But I reached out and talked about myself and talked about stuff that hadn’t been heard. It was amazing to get that award.”
Roberts added he will have a “trilogy takeover” by Thanksgiving where he’ll have a one-hour comedy special, have a 10-song comedy album released and finish wrapping up the movie, “Not So Fast, Her Tooth Is Loose.”
What: Comedians Mike Epps, DeRay Davis, Corey Holcomb and Tony Roberts.
When: 8 p.m. July 25.
Where: The Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood.
Information: 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com