*It’s not very often that a white stand-up comedian can bring out big laughs consistently from predominately black audiences.
And, it’s amazing that a white comedian can win a contest called the “Funniest Black Comedian in San Diego,” which led to television appearances on BET’s “Comic View.”
Subsequently, this white guy is the first person of his race to ever host “Comic View,” which is traditionally reserved for funny black comedians.
Additionally, how often, if ever, does a storied black magazine (Ebony) label a white comedian, “Black America’s Favorite White Comic?” Well, the aforementioned “favorite white comedian” is Gary Owen, and for more than a decade, he has been telling some amazingly funny jokes to mainly black audiences.
On Friday, April 1 (April Fools’ Day), movie goers will see more of Owen’s antics, when he puts his acting chops on display in the big screen comedy, “Meet the Blacks.” The film stars Mike Epps, who is also the movie’s executive producer. The director is Deon Taylor.
According to Owen, “Meet the Blacks” is about what happens when Carl Black (Mike Epps) mysteriously comes into a large sum of money. Looking to start a new life for himself, his wife, two children, and crazy cousin, Carl moves the family from Chicago to Beverly Hills, California. Unbeknownst to the Blacks, there’s a purge awaiting them in Beverly Hills, which means people can commit and get away with any crime, including murder, during a 12-hour period.
It quickly becomes obvious that some white folks in Beverly Hills want to purge Carl Black and his family. Yet, the Blacks, in a comedic landslide of funny scenes, will attempt to survive the 12-hour purge.
“My character’s name is ‘Stranger,’” Owen told EURweb.com’s Lee Bailey recently. “It’s the first time that I’ve played a killer. If you saw the movie ‘The Purge,’ in the first part a dude knocks on the front door and tells someone that he’s coming, and he’s going to purge them. That’s what I do to Carl Black; I let him and his family know that I’m going to purge them because they are not welcomed in the neighborhood. Stranger tells Carl that we (neighbors) are going to come in his house and kill them.”
“Stranger has never been around black people,” Owen said. “So he voices every fear and every stereotype that he has ever heard about black people to Carl Black. Stranger can voice these fears, which sound racist, with no fear of repercussion, because there are no repercussions. Stranger is coming to kill Carl Black and his family because it’s a legal purge for 12 hours.”
While there are some similar elements and parities with the film, “The Purge,” according to Owen, “Meet the Blacks” is closer to the “Scary Movie” franchise (1 -5), with ridiculous, can’t believe that happened, weird, but funny scenes.
“There are some scary parts, man!” Owen exclaimed. “People are going to jump out of their seats a couple of times. This movie has its ridiculous moments, but there are some real scary parts: even I was jumping around a little bit.”
In addition to Epps and Owen, the film’s other starring actors/actresses are Zulay Henao (Lorena Black), Bresha Webb (Allie Black), Alex Henderson (Carl, Jr.), and Lil Duval (Cronut). The film also features comedians/actors George Lopez and Charlie Murphy. Former world heavyweight boxing champion, Mike Tyson, is also in the film.
“Meet the Blacks” is not Owen’s first movie role with a mostly black cast. He has starred in such films as, “Think Like a Man,” “Think Like a Man Too,” “Rebound,” “Ride Along,” and others. On television, he has had a recurring role as Zach in Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne.”
“I hope when people see ‘Meet the Blacks,’ they will see a different side of me and say, ‘Oh, Gary got a little range, ‘ ” Owen said. “I’ve done dramatic stage plays, but for television and film, comedy has pretty much been my bread and butter. They say that all great comedy comes from a source of great pain; you just have to draw it out. We (comedians) are pushing our pain down and pushing up the levity. That’s how we keep our sanity sometimes.”
For now, and for Owen, the levity to keep his sanity will largely play strong to black comedy audiences, black television viewers, and black movie goers. Yet, Owen has no problems with who his loyal followers are.
“I know I have a large black fan base,” he said. “And at the end of the day, I’m not going to forget the people that got me to where I am. I’m not worried about crossing over.”
For more on Gary Owen, log on to www.garyowen.com.