Whether he’s auditioning for “Magic Mike XXL” in a comedy skit, skyping with a celebrity guest or dishing on the news of the day, Tony King maintains the same goal for his late-night show.
“We just wanna have fun,” the host of the nationally syndicated and locally produced “Tony King Live!” said prior to a recent show taping in Baton Rouge.
The 60-minute show, now airing nightly on Soul of the South Network, also features a monologue, sometimes a musical performer, and a DJ. The relatively new (2011) network airs in more than 50 markets, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles.
“It is like watching your baby get a base hit in T-ball,” King said of the show’s lengthy journey from inside the comic’s head to the TV screen. “You see the fruition from it. This is absolutely fun.”
And being funny is something the Baton Rouge transplant said has always been a part of him.
“When I was like 17, we had a subsitute teacher, and he asked us what we wanted to be, and I said ‘comedian,’ and everybody cracked up. And then he said, ‘How are you going to do it?’
“I said I was going to get on radio first. It was always the plan, always the goal.”
Spurring him on further was watching “The Chris Rock Show” (1997-2000).
“I said, ‘Man, that is exactly what I want,’ even down to the live DJ; just a fresh, urban approach, but still funny with it,” he said.
Growing up in a house of funny people didn’t hurt, either.
“My whole family, holidays and stuff like that. If I had to say who my real influence is, it would be my older brother. He is the funniest dude I’ve ever met in my life.
“He has no desire to perform. We talk every day, and just talking to him gives me ideas. If he ever wanted to do comedy, he would smoke me!”
After attending college in Ohio, King returned to his native Houston to begin his radio career. In 2010, a job at WEMX, 94.1, brought him to Baton Rouge. He would later move to the online station Missy Radio.
“I was only on the air (at WEMX) a few days when we played this April Fools’ joke. We said R. Kelly (the R&B singer) was coming to town. Now, this is when R. Kelly was big-time. We had people lined up for blocks. We brought out a guy named Ron Kelly. They were mad! They really took that stuff serious. I was scared!” he said.
After years on Baton Rouge radio, making the transition to televison wasn’t particularly difficult for King, as it had always been in that funny brain of his, he said.
“In my comedy, I like to throw my life in there, because then it’s me. I’m giving more of myself to the audience.”
King said it’s simple things, like cheating on your barber, that can yield hilarious results.
“I did this skit where I had gone to another barber, and then I went out, and everywhere I went, I ran into my barber.”
A nod to the recently-retired David Letterman, King also includes a “Top 10 List” in the show’s hour.”
“I’m a fan of all comedy,” added King, who designates the parental rating on “TKL!” as “dingy” as opposed to dirty.
“I like to think that I can tell the same jokes in a church as I can in a club, and I have. This is a show you wouldn’t want a 7- year-old to watch, but you’d want your grandma to watch. It’s PG-13, really.”