Frankenhood Night at the Improv – DVD Release Event
Friend of RooftopComedy, Hasan Minhaj interviewed the director and actors from the movie Frankenhood.
Upon my arrival to the Hollywood Improv I scan the room and find an incredibly packed house; the crowd is amped, comics are chattering, and excitement is in the air–Standard fair for another night of ‘Mo Betta Mondays’ hosted by Deray Davis. Tonight is extra special because it not only serves as a comedy show but also the DVD release party of the Lions Gate film Frankenhood, starring stand-up heavyweights JB Smoove, Jasper Redd, Deray Davis, and Charlie Murphy. The Improv went all out taking an all star cast and parlaying it into a stellar comedy show giving the crowd a taste of what Frankenhood, set to release on DVD May 5th, is going to be like onscreen. Impressed at the lineup posted for the night I turn to director Blaxwell Smart who whispers ‘If you love this show, trust me Frankenhood’s gonna blow your mind’.
Smart, who for years cut his teeth behind the camera in the music video industry, is making his feature directorial debut with Frankenhood, the stoner comedy where three friends revive a Shaq-esque corpse in hopes of winning $25,000 in a local basketball tournament. He candidly describes the movie as a hybrid of ‘Friday’ and ‘Weird Science’. If Frankenhood is anything like the later two films it could be the next big cult comedy.
After the show I got a chance sit down with Director Blaxwell Smart as well as stars Jasper Redd and Deray Davis to discuss the movie:
Hasan Minhaj: This is an exciting role for you guys. Talk about Frankenhood and your role in the movie.
DeRay Davis: I play the character ‘Motown’ in the movie. I’m basically the anchor; the guy who’s willing to do anything to make his dream happen. He’s a dreamer and thinker so it’s not unusual that he wants to bring a dead person back to life to win a 3 on 3 tournament. Definitely a fish out of water experience. Everyone else isn’t down for this idea, but Motown wants to redeem himself and win the tournament money more than anything.
Blaxwell Smart: I think Deray is a very established comedian and actor; it was good to see him as ‘Motown’ carrying and leading a film. His knowledge of film is nuts. He really was a leader on set and a perfect pairing for Jasper and the relationship they have.
HM: What attracted you to the movie?
BS: The concept is nuts. You don’t expect an urban comedy to be about something like this. Any other person would have looked at the script and said ‘What? An urban comedy about a dead body coming to life playing basketball? This isn’t gonna work.’ But I loved the idea! It’s an outlandish horror movie and we had a lot of fun with it.
HM: Jasper, what was your first acting experience like?
Jasper Redd: It was crazy; I didn’t expect to get the part but they really believed in me so I was excited for the role. It’s mind-blowing. It shows that you’ll never know how your comedy will affect someone.
BS: let me talk about Jasper for a second. I was really excited having Jasper be a part of this project. Mainly because his comedy is so smart. And I think that I wanted him to bring that to his character Darius….even though this is his first feature I really like dude, and I know he’s going places.
DD: Jasper is great because he listens. That’s what separates him from most actors; he’s not stuck in his ways and he wants to learn.
HM: How fun was it being a comic, being on set and working with other comics?
DD: Wonderful; It’s happened before but never on this level. That’s the great thing about independence and having good distribution like this. Comics get to say whatever they want on set; JB Smoove one of the greatest comics period being able to work with him made me so comfortable onstage.
JR: It was like comedy summer camp. You get all these funny people together, JB, Charlie, Deray; I couldn’t stop laughing. It was great being around so many funny, talented people.
HM: I heard from JB that there was a comedy rivalry going on onset, tell me about it.
JR: JB goes all out. So he waits til you’re most vulnerable and then pounces on you. I’ll be reading the lines and then JB will pop out and distract you. By the time he gets you he’s three punches deep and you can’t even come back. The great part is that no one takes it personal because we’re all comics.
HM: What’s best about being a comic and parlaying your onstage abilities into film?
DD: The movie is great but being able to take your skills and display it onscreen the way we did in Frankenhood is amazing. Films are a time capsule that gives people something to look at forever. As a comic that’s what you want-forever funny.
HM: Any last thoughts? If you could share anything about this project to someone who doesn’t know much about it. What would you tell them?
DD: Frankenhood, this movie is funny. Great cast, great script. You can’t lose. It was a three pointer from half court and we hit it. Two years in the making we won and I’m happy to be a part of it.
JR: Check out Frankenhood. Plain and simple.
BS: People may have a lot of preconceived notions about what a movie called ‘Frankenhood’ is going to be about. You may have a lot of preconceived notions about urban comedy; what we’re trying to make here is a cult comedy. Something people have heard about and tell their friends about. You gotta see this movie.