1.) The character Paul Mooney Jr. is done as an homage to comedy legend Paul Mooney. Mooney is known for writing and performing in both stand-up and sketch comedy. Was he your main inspiration to create and develop Black Bull Entertainment? Could you explain a bit of his influence?
Paul Mooney & the PMJ (Paul Mooney Jr) brand wasn’t the initial inspiration to creating Black Bull Entertainment, though it became the catalyst for me in understanding the importance in doing so. In 2005, I began to option my ideas within the Hollywood entertainment circuit to various studios, directors and production companies and quickly realized I had to protect and legitimize my work. After developing, producing, writing and editing each PMJ show (and then seeing the response from my followers), it became clear that I needed to formalize the work I created.
But when it comes to my comedic writing – yes, I’m certainly inspired by the quick witt, racial and political rants of the legend that is Mooney, and for me as an actor he was the inspiration to challenge me to increase my range.
2.) Mooney based much of his material around race issues around the world. Some audiences find this controversial. Is this something that you feel strongly about and want to express in your own material? Why or why not?
Oh yeah! When creating “The Weekend Update with Paul” parody I wanted to address the up’s and down’s of Pop Cultural in the vain of a younger Mooney that grew up in the 80′s. But I’m no Mooney especially when it comes to his writing genius so I wanted the performance to fill in the gaps.
3.) Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx all had stand up material either written, ghost written or contributed to by Mooney. He continues to make waves as a Stand-up in his own right. As an influence, have you ever been inspired to perform stand-up? If so, how does it suit you compared to sketch work?
I have to say that I’ve never had the urge to do stand-up. I’m a born/trained actor not comedian and you have to be born a comedian. That’s why the real comedians run in a small circle watching actors playing stand up. I respect the art too well to play stand-up.
4.) How did other sketch/online comedy influence you? Were there specific teams, companies, shows or organizations that you followed to help you develop your own specific comedic tastes? How did they shape your comedy palate?
The influence that I’ve drawn from other sketch/online comedies were how to make the show better. There is so much I’ve learned in the past year about the web series structure, filming, sound, when to post, not to spam. And partnering with good people in the industry and fellow channels like the Comedy Shaq Network always helps.
5.) Much of sketch comedy is born on a stage, performing live. Have you ever brought “The Weekend Update” to a live performance stage? In your opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages of performing live versus releasing online content?
I haven’t delivered our show in a live platform, but I do see that the PMJ show could go live like a SNL skit. And one day i’d like to do that and laugh my ass off to see how it turns out. But for right now I like the controlled environment of a studio where we can run as many takes as possible to get it right which is the greatest advantage to releasing online content. With live performance, I would think the greatest disadvantage would be the potential to jeopardize the authenticity of PMJ as it is now. I read an article featuring Issa Rae, the creator of “Awkward Black Girl,” where she was very candid in describing her concern to maintain the unique qualities of her show and it’s fan base should it be translated to a network platform since there’s always the risk for it to become watered-down; I share the same concern for the PMJ brand on a live platform.
6.) The Youtube channel alone has currently amassed nearly 30,000 hits. Given its popularity, where would you like to see “The Weekend Update,” “Paul Mooney Jr.” and Black Bull Entertainment go from here? What is on the horizon for your creative comedic endeavors?
Having 360,000 total hits for the PMJ and BBE channels combined, I think we have a great creative team that is only getting better. Currently, we are working to create more web based content that targets a direct transition to network television which is a definitive goal for our team in 2013. As for our creative comedic endeavors, I tend to write for specific comedians in mind and would love the opportunity to work with them, including DL Hughley, Mike Epps and Gary Owens. Finally, as for the future of PMJ, to be honest I created PMJ as a weekly audition to portray Mooney’s legend in a biopic and that will continuously be my focus until I’m casted!
Justin Morgan is a comedy nerd & comedian who was initially trained in musical, dramatic and improvisational theatre. He utilizes his education along with a wealth of pop culture knowledge, love of jokes and unique storytelling ability to craft his stand-up act. His peers named him “Best New Comedian” in 2009 and the “Biggest Asset To The Atlanta Comedy Community” two years in a row. Recently he’s stepped away from behind the scenes work to focus on performing after his recent move to New York.