Is there anything better than a day filled with laughter? If you ask me the answer is no! Laughter is a gift, and some people just have a knack for it.
One of those people is actor, comedian and musician Craig Robinson. Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Craig to discuss his role as leading man Wade Walker in the film “The Peeples”.
“The Peeples”, directed by Tina Gordon Chism in partnership with Tyler Perry, tells the story of Wade a fun loving non licensed children’s counselor who teaches children through song to “Speak It Don’t Leak It”. Yes that’s right Craig uses his musical ability in the film to teach children about the importance of “speaking their problems instead of internalizing them which in turn can turn into unexpected urine”. If that made you giggle you are not alone but the laughs don’t stop there! “The Peeples” takes you for quite the roller coaster ride when Wade surprises his live-in girlfriend Grace Peeples (played by Kerry Washington) and her family, with a unexpected visit only to discover they know nothing about him or his relationship with Grace! The all star cast which includes David Alan Grier, S. Epatha Merkerson, Diahana Carrol, and Melvin Van Peebles really makes you feel like you’re experiencing all the ups and downs with your own dysfunctionally funny family. Craig and I had a pretty hilarious conversation:
Q: How did you get your start in comedy?
A: “In college I felt like comedy chose me. I had bought a keyboard, I said I’m gonna do music, and wrote these songs and then all of a sudden people would say to me “Craig I was trying to tell people your bit, What were you saying yesterday?” Stuff I would create people would try to repeat it and I started going down this path…
Comedy was the first thing I was actually serious about.”
Q: What was your early career like?
A: ” I was auditioning and I’d get a bite here and there and I did this movie called Played, it was my first movie. They shot it for VH1 and
I was reminiscing with a buddy today how I had no idea what I was doing. I’d learned how to audition a little bit but I never made it to the set. I had no idea what I was doing, It was so bad! They’d yell action and I’d just be sitting there like what we doing? It’s a wonder that I stayed in that movie, it’s a wonder that I kept going in this career but some kind of way I made it through”.
Q: What was it like playing the only sane character in “The Peeples”?
A: “To watch it and see that and realize this guy… this Counselor with a K and he owns it. He owns his own truth and nobody else does. They are afraid of not being loved. You can tell he (Wade) came from a loving, sharing, giving family… Hey “Peeples 2″ (said with a laugh)! And to watch it I can’t remember what it was like when I did it but to see it… I’ve fallen in love with the movie! I watch it and every time I see it I see a little something different.”
Q: What was it like working with Kerry Washington?
A: “We met when we started rehearsing, about a week before we shot. We did things like go to dinner, we’d have these little dinner dates and try to see who these characters were to each other. And you know it’s not hard to fall in love with Kerry Washington!”
Q: David Alan Grier is amazing and one of the best there is… What was it like being on set with him?
A: “I’m a huge fan! He’s a legend and a huge part of my comedy history. I love him to death, he’s awesome! He’s trying to crack you, trying to break you, break the takes, trying to mess you up (said with a laugh). He’s this super trained actor and just layered. The way he was with me, the way he was with his wife, the way he was with Kerry, the way he was with his other children… He was the father of the set and he couldn’t be a more awesome human being.”
Q: What has been the biggest challenge in your career thus far and what is the biggest challenge in pushing forward?
A: “When I first came out to LA I had to learn how to audition so I was in the learning how to audition lane, then move over to getting the audition, so then move over to getting the call back, then the part, then it starts all over. The challenge is always to stay hungry because once you get some success, you don’t have to do certain things or hit the road like you did… You get a little spoiled at times. That’s the challenge, to keep the fire burning and remember why you got into it in the first place!”
Q: How do you go about choosing roles at this point… Do you ever feel drawn to certain roles or characters?
A: The Cash (said with a laugh) ! No it’s like the lanes. Things seem to make sense and I have a strong team around me that looks out… This script, this writer, this project is a good look. But if it’s something I feel like I can service and I see what I can bring to it to lift it up and see what I can infuse into it.”
Q: What would you like people to know about The Peeples?
A: “That it was a labor of love. It’s Tina Gordon Chism’s first directing effort, it’s my first leading man effort, it’s Kerry’s first leading comedy, it might be Epatha’s first comedy I’m not sure so we all had each other’s back! We loved bringing this movie to fruition if only for Tina. It was awesome to band together and be there for each other. The laughs… We had so much fun making it! I would like people to just feel that while they are in there and let it infuse you with the goodness.”
Q: What are you working on next?
A: “I have the NBC pilot “Mr. Robinson“. We are in the bubble of hope and I feel good about it. I’m doing Hot Tub Time Machine Part II in June and July in New Orleans and I gotta get the band (The Nasty Delicious) together and do some recording?
Q: How did you come up with the name of your band?
A: “I don’t know how I came up with it. I don’t know it’s just what it is… They so nasty but yet they so delicious, like chitterlings or something.”
Q: What do you want people to know about you?
A: “I wish the world could get together and do a big collective group hug and as soon as we get through hugging, everyone should just tickle the person next to you. That’s Craig in a nutshell”
A worldwide group hug sounds like a fantastic idea to me and if you enjoy a good comedy as much as I do you will definitely want to go see “The Peeples” which hits theaters nation wide on Friday May, 10th. Be sure to also keep an eye out for Mr. Craig Robinson he has a lot more to show the world!
By Kharisma McIlwaine