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The comic challenge
With her bouncy personality and energetic in-ring style, former three-time Women's Champion Mickie James is one of the most exciting Divas to ever grace WWE. There's never a dull moment with Mickie in and out of the ring -- you never know what to expect.
However, with comedian Bill Bellamy, you can expect laughs -- he has provided them for years as a longtime MTV VJ, in stand-up routines, movies and TV shows. And fans can expect more laughs when Bellamy hosts the fifth season of NBC's Last Comic Standing, which premieres tonight in a two-hour special starting at 9/8 CT.
When Mickie caught up with Bellamy for this week's Superstar to Superstar, our fans got some insight into Last Comic Standing and a surprise challenge, as you'll see below:
Mickie James: So, how have you been?
Bill Bellamy: I'm good. A lot of good things are happening, which is always fun when you're in the entertainment world.
Mickie: Oh, of course.
Bellamy: And the new show is getting a lot of support from the network. They're promoting the hell out of it. … It's big. It's going to be a big, big summer.
Mickie: Is there anything that you know that we can expect [from Last Comic Standing]?
Bellamy: There's going to be a lot of interesting surprises. One of the things I can tell you is that this is the first time the show is international. So, we're actually trying to find the funniest person in the world, not just in the United States.
Mickie: Well, you're talking to her right now [laughs].
Bellamy: Yeah, yeah. …And we have a lot of funny ladies in it. You know how they say it's a male-dominated sport? Well, don't hate on the ladies because we got some funny chicks out there, doing their thing.
Mickie: That's awesome.
Bellamy: And just look out for the gorilla. That's all I've got to say … Look out for the gorilla [laughs]. You might see some promos with someone who's dressed as a gorilla; it's hilarious. … It sounds crazy, but check it out [laughs].
Mickie: I'm sure I'll love it. You've been acting in movies, doing stand-up and hosting a bunch of shows. What do you prefer?
Bellamy: Actually, I prefer stand-up because that's the place where I can just be Bill, say what I want to say and do the thing I'm naturally gifted at -- making people laugh. I love doing movies and TV as well, but those are scripts and you have to deliver a certain way for certain directors and you have writers to deal with. But when you're a comedian -- and I write my own material, so I can just "do Bill." "Hey Bill, do you like that?" "Yup, there it is." "Well, then say it!"
Mickie: Do you wish you had something like Last Comic Standing when you were first starting out?
Bellamy: Yeah, well, I had stuff like Def Comedy Jam and the HBO Young Comedians Special, which was cool. But I don't know that I had anything with as huge of a platform such as this. I mean, this is big. I mean, damn. It's really big. Last Comic is a really big summer show. And I think [to myself], "If I had an opportunity like this, wow, I would sure take advantage of it." And a lot of these comics are. They're really going for it.
Mickie: It's really cool. It's a huge opportunity for them to get exposure. So do you have any funny or interesting stories to share from the auditions?
Bellamy: I really liked the aspect that we went international with it. It's good to see comics with a different accent. Everyone speaks English, which is cool. What I find hilarious are the British comics because even when they say something bad, it still sounds good. Everything sounds eloquent. [Bellamy then begins to mimic a British comedian, with accent.] "Last night I was out with my girlfriend, and I just want to be really honest here. She is utterly, hideously ugly. I mean, brutally ugly, you know what I mean? I'm talking about a lady who can't even look at her own shadow. You know what I mean?" Even though he's saying something that's so messed up, he almost sounds like he's saying, "She's not that ugly." [Laughs]
Mickie: That's a pretty good accent you've got there. [Laughs]
Bellamy [resuming British accent]: You know what I mean?
Mickie [in faux British accent]: You're bloody right!
Bellamy: I like the international aspect whereas their perspective on certain things is slightly different. But the good thing is that it doesn't really matter because comedy transcends. Everyone speaks English, so you get it -- and that's really cool. The Australians are going to be pulling for the Australians and the Canadians are going to be pulling for the Canadians, so it's going to have a little bit of national pride going on there.
Mickie: That's really neat because it also opens up a whole different dimension -- a bigger variety of people that will watch, too.
Bellamy: And it's going to air in all different countries, so it's not just in the U.S. Everybody's going to get a chance to vote for their favorite comedian.
Mickie: That's really awesome. So, is there anybody [contestant] that you saw that we should watch closely (besides the gorilla)? Or do you not want to reveal that?
Bellamy: There are a lot of people in it that I like. But I can tell you that one of the comedians I hope does well is a guy named Lavelle Crawford. He's a very funny dude. He is ridiculously funny.
Mickie: So the grand prize winner gets $250,000, right?
Bellamy: Right. They get an NBC talent contract and their own comedy special on Bravo, and they get the 250gs.
Mickie: And do they have a chance to perhaps get an unofficial "mentor" to give them career advice, like maybe you or someone else?
Bellamy: We might do some stuff like that as we get deeper into it, [and] bring some special guests in. We're going to have special guest talent scouts that will be there to critique and be funny as we progress with the show. I'm sure we'll bring in people to be like that [mentors]. That would be a really excellent opportunity for these comics.
Mickie: Did you have any of your own mentors growing up?
Bellamy: Yeah. I would say people like Eddie Murphy [and] Bill Cosby. I liked Sinbad. I think Sinbad is tremendously funny. I was watching Sinbad on TV when I was first starting out. "Oh, man. I want to be on HBO like Sinbad." I admired Martin Lawrence and other talented comedians who have gone on to do some real cool stuff.
Mickie: It's funny when people talk about comedians, they really don't bring up Sinbad, and I thought he was so funny.
Bellamy: I guess when people don't see you they kind of don't think of you right away. But Sinbad, he was hosting shows and being funny … wow, I just remember seeing Sinbad and going, "Man, I want to be on TV."
Mickie: I remember seeing a comedy show he did …
Bellamy: He hosted a comedy show, right? Was it Star Search or he won Star Search?
Mickie: I can't remember but I remember watching this one [routine] -- and I used to do this all the time, so I could relate -- where he talked about pushing the grocery cart up on his mom's heels. And that had me rolling on the floor laughing because I used to do that to my mother all the time, and she would curse me out in the grocery store so badly.
Mickie: What else are you up to? What other projects are on tap presides hosting Last Comic Standing?
Bellamy: I have another show that I host called Bill Bellamy's Who's Got Jokes? It is very similar to Last Comic, but it's on TV once so it's more of an urban audience. It probably has younger comics, meaning comics who haven't been doing it as long. So, it's kind of cool.
Mickie: Well, that's kind of it for me. Is there anything else you want to add?
Bellamy: I want to challenge you to wrestle -- a match, a pound-for-pound [fight] where I could probably take you for the first 10 seconds and then I would get beat up. [Mickie laughs] But those seconds would be so powerful.
Mickie: 10 seconds?
Bellamy: I would try really hard, but I know I'm gonna lose. I've never wrestled a girl before.
Mickie: Well, you know what? You're on!
Bellamy: I don't mind losing. I'm not an arrogant dude. I don't mind getting beat up -- as long as it's you. I'm not gonna let some regular chick get me.
Mickie: Oh, of course not.
Bellamy: You just let those WWE officials know.
Mickie: Oh, I'll let them know [laughs]. … Well, I'm excited. I look forward to wrestling you. I'll fight you!