Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Eddie Murphy are some of the typical answers comics deliver when asked which stand-ups influenced them.
Tony Roberts’ choice may surprise you. Sinbad is the comic who had the biggest impact on Roberts, who is scheduled to perform Sept. 13-16 at Goodnights Comedy Club in Raleigh. (Schedule could change due to Hurricane Florence. Check the Goodnights Facebook page and website for updates.)
Calling from his Sacramento home, Roberts, 50, reveals what’s wrong with parents today, why he wants to bring the jerk back to sitcoms and drops a rap he has been working on.
Q: Why is Sinbad the comic who had the biggest impact on you?
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
A: It’s the way Sinbad performs. When I started out, I was a bit nervous and I performed inside the box. Then I saw how Sinbad performs. Man, he’s just high energy having fun. I saw that, and now I throw stuff all over the place like he does. I also love Redd Foxx. He was a great entertainer. There was no one quite like Redd Foxx. If you can be a stand-up and you can be original. Well, you accomplished something significant.
Q: Would you like to have a sitcom vehicle like “Sanford and Son,” which Foxx had in the ‘70s?
A: Oh yeah! I know it would mean that I would have to leave home here (Sacramento) but I’m fine with that. I wrote my own sitcom. I just had a reading (in Hollywood). I would love to bring back the jerk in sitcoms. George Jefferson was a jerk in “The Jeffersons” but he was so funny.
“All in the Family” had a jerk in Archie. It’s time to bring the jerk back. We need him.
Q: Can the politically correct world handle it?
A: I hope so but it’s true that everyone is so sensitive today. I cover that in my “I’m Different” special.
Q: You have three young children and two adult children from a previous marriage. What’s the difference between children now and when you were raising kids the first time around?
A: What’s wrong with parents today is they try to be friends with their kids. They don’t try to be the leader and that’s wrong. For Christmas, I ask my kids to tell me what they need, and I tell them how to live without what they want. You’ve got to earn it. My wife does things for them because she looks at it like they’ll always be her babies. But kids need to learn how to do things.
Kids are so soft today. They need to get a backbone.
Q: You’re one of the few comedians who not only tells jokes but raps during shows.
A: Oh yeah. You should hear my song “Booty Mouth.” “You need an Altoid IV, a Listerine shake, a Febreze mouth piece and a Right Guard cake.” I have some fun with my raps. It’s different. It changes things up and the crowd loves it.
Q: What’s next?
A: I’ll be shooting a special in November. I’ll be previewing much of that material in Raleigh. You’ll see what I’m doing before anyone else.
Who: Tony Roberts
When: Sept. 13-16.
Where: Goodnights, 861 W. Morgan St., Raleigh
Tickets: $21 and $29 Friday, $25 and $33 Saturday and $23 and $31 Sunday.
More information: 919-828-5233, goodnightscomedy.com