Monday Profile: Atlanta comedian honed skills at Columbus' Lee High

June 20, 2011 10:07:00 AM

Jason Browne - [email protected]


Antoine "Booger" Brown''s comedy is as Golden Triangle as it gets. 


The Atlanta-based stand-up comic doesn''t pattern himself after Richard Pryor. He doesn''t emulate Dave Chappelle. He wasn''t inspired by Chris Rock. 


Instead, the Plum Grove native, who moved to Columbus when he was 10 years old, calls on his memories of the old heads drinking beer and telling jokes at the corner store. He learned the art of imitation listening to his grandmother, Louise Brown, and her friends mimic customers and characters from the restaurant where she worked. And he sharpened his "joning" (comedic insulting) skills in the battleground hallways of Lee High School. 


"I look up to people in the neighborhood. I know that sounds crazy, but I look at it like old-school, raw talent. Some of the funniest people are everyday people," said Brown. 


Those everyday Columbus and Lowndes County people are the inspiration and the basis for most of Booger''s material. And it''s what you can expect to hear at his upcoming comedy showcase at the Columbus Inns and Suites (formerly the Master Hosts Inn) July 1 at 9:30 p.m. 


Brown will perform along with Atlanta comics Doo Doo Brown (no relation) and Tiny. Cover is $15 at the door or tickets can be purchased two-for-$20 at Supercuts barbershop on Highway 45 North and Beaute Salon on Warpath Road in Columbus or Tony''s Barbecue in West Point. 


The show will be Brown''s second in Columbus in recent months. He promoted and performed a similar show Easter weekend where the 200-person-capacity room at the Columbus Inn & Suite''s was nearly full, but "everyone was afraid to sit in the front row" for fear of being targeted by the comic. 


The same danger will be in effect July 1. And the content will be explicit. 




When did you start telling jokes? 


I''ve been doing it all my life. When I was 3 years old, I would hang out with my grandma and her friends. If they sent me to get them a beer and a cigarette from in the house, I''d come back sipping the beer and pretending to smoke the cigarette. 


They''d say ''That boy''s crazy.'' My grandma used to call me a bad lil'' booger. 


Laughter has always kept me going. I can''t recall anything being so serious I wouldn''t laugh at it. 




What''s the worst thing you ever made fun of? 


Somebody got shot and I was imitating how they were running. His cousin was like, ''That (stuff) ain''t funny. He almost died.'' I was like ''Yeah, but he was running fast as a (son of a gun).'' They were (ticked) off about it, but after he healed up from getting shot in the (backside), they were like ''Imitate how he was running!'' 




So you were there when he got shot? 


We were outside of a club in Jackson. This was before I graduated from Jackson State University with a degree in mass communication. It was after a football game, and they had a concert at this club called Tiffany''s. 


We were just being college students, wilin'' out, messing with girls, and some dude came out of the club (peeved) and said ''I''m bout to kill everybody!'' 


I bust out and said ''You aint gon'' do (nothing).'' 


He said, ''Who said that?'' 


I pointed at my friend. So we just took off running, and he was shooting and that''s how he shot him in his (rear). He grazed him. 




So you got your friend shot, then made fun of him? 


Yeah, it was my fault. But to this day I never told anybody else. 




How did you hone your skills in Columbus schools? 


It started at Hunt Middle School and just got better all the way through college. I always hung with older guys. If they could make me laugh, I gravitated to them. They would jone me and say I was skinny and such, but hanging around them I eventually started picking out their flaws, like if they had a cock eye or their teeth were messed up, anything. I would expose their flaws while they were coming down the hallway and even the teachers would start laughing. 


Plus, I played football, but I rode the bench and could sit there and look at everybody on the field and tell who didn''t know the plays. 




When did you start writing jokes? 


I started writing in college, but I would write stuff so offensive that when I moved from Jackson to Atlanta I would say stuff that would be funny, but I just didn''t know how to say it. 






The Michael Vick situation: I would say (forget) them dogs. I don''t give a (hoot) about a dog. I''m from Mississippi. You want to see animal cruelty? Let a dog (mess) with my grandma''s chickens. She''ll scald the (heck) out of that dog. 


Black people fall out laughing at that, but white people get red and tense in the face. Then I''ll smooth it out and say something like, ''They''re just jokes. Get over it like you told us to get over slavery.'' 


That almost got me banned from the comedy house because the club owner had a lot of dogs, the DJ was a dog lover. Then I go to a black club and get a standing ovation. I''m like, ''I''ma keep telling that joke.'' 




How many venues are there in Jackson to get experience? 


Anywhere people will listen if there''s a microphone and a stage. You have to be creative a lot of times. I''ve done spots in barber shops where they turn into a club at night. I''ve done gay clubs. I''ve done picnics, barbecues, fairs. 




What prompted your move to Atlanta? 


To be honest, I never wanted to move to Atlanta. I was dying to go to Los Angeles straight out of high school, but I went to college just to stay out of trouble. I thought about joining the Army but I aint tough enough for that. I can''t get up at 6 a.m. everyday. I probably only get out of bed now by 10 a.m., and that''s if I have to pee. 


I hosted a show in Jackson for some guys from Atlanta and they said "You should come to Atlanta and do open mics." Not a week after I graduated I called them like "I''m here. Where you at?" 




Do you do strictly comedy, or do you have a regular job? 


I don''t work. I sell T-shirts and oils and incense on the side when it''s slow. 




What''s the appetite for comedy like in Columbus? 


People want it, but you have to train them to pay. They think if something costs more than $5 here, it''s a problem. There''s a market. Maybe I haven''t tapped into the right people yet, but it''s coming. (Another show is in the works for later in July.) 


I''m doing face-to-face promotion, Facebook. No radio. I''m going to all the hot spots and telling people about the show, just word of mouth. We do have a TV spot that drops Monday. 




Anyone who comes to the show, can they expect to get joned? 


Oh, yeah. Get there early, because anyone who comes in while I''m on stage, I gotta acknowledge you. But I''m not going to offend anybody. I like to do written material, but a lot of people don''t think you''re a comedian if you don''t have some snaps and jones. It just depends on what I''m drinking at the time and how much I''ve had.