Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

STILL 'DOIN' TIME'; Comedian, TV and Film Star Bringing His Standup Show to Jacksonville

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

STILL 'DOIN' TIME'; Comedian, TV and Film Star Bringing His Standup Show to Jacksonville

Article excerpt

Byline: David Crumpler david.crumpler@jacksonville.com

Martin Lawrence started doing comedy almost 30 years ago, and it didn't take all that long to establish a following for his raucous, irreverent humor.

Within five years of his debut at The Improv in New York and strong showing on "Star Search," Lawrence had his own hit series, "Martin." From 1992 to 1997, the Fox sitcom more than held its own against NBC's "Must See TV" lineup on Thursday nights.

He found success on the big screen, too, appearing in blockbusters such as "Blue Streak," "Big Momma's House" and "Bad Boys." Fans have been asking Lawrence and co-star Will Smith about a third installment ever since "Bad Boys II" scored at the box office in 2003. (The latest: A screenplay is in the works, and there could be a "Bad Boys III" in 2018.)

Lawrence, now 51, took a four-year break from standup comedy before going back on the road again last fall with his Doin' Time tour.

His performance at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles resulted in the Showtime special "Doin' Time: Uncut," which premiered in September and has just come out on DVD. It's his first comedy special in 14 years.

You can see Lawrence live in Jacksonville on Friday when he brings his act to the Times-Union Center. He talked about comedy, touring and his lengthy break from standup in a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles.

Why so long between comedy specials?

Because it's not that easy to get material, new material all of a sudden. It takes time to build material. After you've done one concert, to go on to the next concert you have to have time in between. So it just took some time.

It's not like you haven't been doing other things and staying busy in the meantime.

Yeah, exactly - television and movies and raising a family.

You started touring again after a four-year break. Did you stay off the stage completely during that time?

I hadn't been on stage in four years. When I came back is when I started for the Doin' Time tour - doing more shows and going to smoke-filled comedy clubs.

You hear a lot of comedians talk about how tough life can be on the road.

Yeah, it can be. It can be draining, and tiresome, and everything else.

So is the reward when they laugh, and let you know they're glad you're there?

Exactly. That's the reward, them coming out, showing you love and energy and just laughing, and saying, "Hey, you delivered us a good show." That's the reward.

A lot of actors who do standup say they have to keep that skill set working, and will go back to doing live shows periodically. Did you find it was fairly easy to go back to standup?

I don't like to call it easy, because standup is not easy by no means. But I think it might have come a little easier to me to get back on stage because of my experience. …

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