Q-and-A with comedy veteran Sinbad


Sinbad, professional comedian, performed at Kent State Tuscarawas Campus Thursday night. Photo by Amber Rowe.

Brittany Hill

After Sinbad’s stand-up comedy performance at the Kent State Tuscarawas campus, Sinbad sat down with the Daily Kent Stater to answer a few questions about what he’s been up to.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a comedic icon for a generation?

A: You know, I don’t even think about it that much… When I see people at 40 say ‘Oh, I grew up with you,’ I’m like, ‘OK, I’m getting old now.” *laughs* And it’s funny because now they have children that are the same age they were when I was hitting. It’s a whole new generation watching now.

Q: Are you on a stand-up comedy tour right now?

A: I’ve been on tour since ’82. I never stop. I never stop touring. I call it

the “Forever Tour.” It’s just folded over into another tour and another tour.

Q: What else have you been doing lately?

A: My daughter’s singing. I produced on her album. My son does videos and

makes music, so I’ve been helping them out with their thing. I got to playing

drums again and playing guitar, so I got back into music. I got a little band, we

got out and hang out, but I’m also writing some more movies. It’s time to do

another run, I think.

Q: So does that mean you’re planning a comeback?

A: I don’t know about the word “comeback”. It’s just that Hollywood goes in

cycles, and you can’t beat the cycle. It is what it is. You can’t make it be anything

other than what it is.

Q: Tell me about your reality show “Sinbad: It’s Just Family” on WE TV.

A: They said we didn’t fight enough, so they canceled us. They basically broke it

down and I was like, “Say what you want,” and they were like, “We want fighting.”

I was trying to prove I hate reality shows. I was trying to prove that comedy

and acting and being a skilled actor still meant something, so I just wanted the

show to be funny… A hybrid show that’s like half a reality show, half a sitcom I

thought would be the new wave. I don’t think sitcoms can come back because we

see too much craziness (with reality shows), but if I could mix the two. I did what I

wanted to do. I made it work, but (the network) said “We’re not looking for funny.

We’re looking for fighting.” And it’s the Women’s network! I was like man, what

does that say about you (women)? *laughs*

Q: For a comedian, you have a cleaner vocabulary than most. There wasn’t an f-

bomb the whole show. Why is that?

A: Well I used to cuss when I first started, but we were all trying to be Richard

Pryor. That was the greatest generation of comics that ever lived Lenny Bruce,

Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, George Carlin and Red Foxx, those guys. So we were

just bad imitations. We just wanted to be the best we could be. We were always

trying to sound like them. Remember now, back in the day Richard was clean

when he started. So, to me the whole idea of a joke is it doesn’t matter if you’re

dirty or if you’re clean … they just chose what they did because it was that time. I

think (at that time) America needed to be shook up, but now, you’re not shaking

anyone up. You’re not being outside the box, so I changed up because I don’t

want to be an imitation … and I found I could reach more people, and be just as

controversial and still talk about the same subjects.

Q: How would you say you’re different now from the Sinbad of the ‘90s?

A: We always grow and mutate. As you get old I think you get wiser, but I’m still

reaching for things. I’m not at that age where I’m like, “Well I’ve done all I want to

do.” There’s so much more I want to do. So I think I’ve changed in patience. I can

wait things out. I’m not as angry. If somebody doesn’t get me, I understand that

they just don’t get me. Everybody has visions. I don’t need 99 people to get me. I

just need one. Then you just take it and run with it.

Q: Tell me about the first time you remember being like “Man, I’m a funny guy.”

A: The first time I did it on purpose I was in eighth grade. I was always acting

crazy, but in eighth grade I kind of flipped it and tried to control it to see if I can

make it happen … it’s like your magic powers, your first time you go too far and

blow something up. I would get people to laugh, but then go too far and become

a jerk. You have to learn to compose it and hone it in.

Q: You’ve been in Hollywood a long time now, and you’ve been up, and you’ve

been down and in and out. What would you say to students who are striving for


A: It’s like Steve Jobs, at the end of that Stanford speech, when he said “Stay

foolish, stay hungry.” There’s different ways to say it. I think you have to be

persistent. People say that all the time, and it sounds like a cliché. You have to

find out what you love. You have to be true to yourself. People say it over and

over, and it sounds contrive, but the thing is, most people don’t have the guts to

stay true to self. Most people will compromise it or change it, or they’ll go for the

quick dollar or they’ll go for hip. To truly be unique – remember people used to

laugh at Apple computers. I was an Apple man in ’84, and people laughed at that

computer, man. People said it’s not going to make it. (Steve Jobs) changed the

industry. Not overnight, and he got fired from his own company, so it’s an up and

down ride. You gotta even ride when it’s up and down. You gotta ride the ride.

Just don’t get off the horse.

Contact Brittany Hill at [email protected].