by JR Valrey, The People’s Minister of Information
Mario Hodge is one of the funniest comedians coming from Oakland, California, on the scene today. He has a very blunt style of comedy, with no chaser. He is the inventor of the hilarious character Jheri Curl Gerald, the social media sensation, who is always in the spotlight but doesn’t care that his style is three decades too old.
Mario Hodge just won a $5,000 comedy competition at the Nugget in Carson City, Nevada, and on Aug. 19, the film “Vampire in Oakland,” in which Mario Hodge has a starring role, is set to premiere at Tommy T’s Comedy Club in Pleasanton. Check out the Bay Area comedy legend in his own words …
JR Valrey: When did you know that you wanted to take being funny into a career as a stand-up comedian? How long have you been doing this?
Mario Hodge: Once I realized that making people laugh and feel good was my purpose in life, I knew comedy was what I was destined to do, so I’ve never looked back. I started comedy in 2013, so I’ve been doing comedy for nine years.
JR Valrey: How do you typically come up with your jokes? How often do you change the jokes in your routine?
Mario Hodge: I don’t have a particular way of coming up with jokes. It’s just an unknown talent that I can’t explain. I can see something – and instantly can write about it and make it funny, but the best material is when you talk about what you have been through in life. You can’t fail when you talk about things that people can relate to.
To be a comedian, you have to be crazy, but it’s a good crazy. I write new jokes every day, and I’ll add a few to my set every month. So you may hear one or two new jokes from me every month. It depends where I’m performing. If I’m out of state, I’ll use the same material that they haven’t heard, but if I’m local, I’ll switch it up.
JR Valrey: How has being from Deep East Oakland affected you as a comedian?
Mario Hodge: I’ve stayed all over Oakland though I’m from East Oakland. I would say just being born and raised in Oakland has made my comedy real. I don’t sugarcoat a damn thing and I don’t do comedy to cater to people’s feelings. These Oakland streets have never given a damn about your feelings, and that’s why I’m able to keep it real.
JR Valrey: Can you talk about the upcoming horror movie that you are the star of, that is set to come out? How could people see it?
Mario Hodge: Pharoah Charles posted on his page about a vampire story he was writing and that he was going to turn it into a movie. Once I saw the post, I asked him to consider me for the leading vampire part, because I was confident that I was best for the part, especially being that it’s based in Oakland. I’m tall, have a great athletic muscular body. I’m handsome, very popular, and I’m highly respected and loved in Oakland, plus I’m one of Oakland’s rising stars. So I thought that would be the perfect role for me, and did I mention that I was multi talented. So acting comes naturally for me. The movie, “Vampire in Oakland,” premieres on Aug. 19, and the people can come to Tommy T’s in Pleasanton to watch it. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m.
JR Valrey: Can you talk about the recent comedy competition that you won in Nevada? What was the name of it? And who were some of the other competitors?
Mario Hodge: The Nugget in Carson City, Nevada, was hosting Kabir Singh’s Comedy Competition, and the cash prize was $5,000, but to earn first place, I had to go up against 16 other funny hungry comedians from around the United States. Truthfully, I only did it because I wanted to buy a new car, so in order to get the new car, I signed up and I wasn’t leaving Carson City without that $5,000. And to make a long story short, I whooped everybody’s ass, and now I have that new car I wanted. Lol!
JR Valrey: Who are some of the comedians that have inspired you? Why?
Mario Hodge: Jamie Foxx is my biggest inspiration being that he’s multi talented. His acting skills are unmatched. Take the movie “Ray” for an example: When you watched “Ray” you didn’t see Jamie Foxx, you saw Ray Charles because that’s how great his acting was, plus he has multiple platinum hits from his singing career. Being that I can make people laugh, I can sing and act, people label me as the next Jamie Foxx. I just want to be the next Mario Hodge, but I’m very humbled by the comparison.
Of course, Richard Pryor inspired me as well. He was very animated, and that’s how I am. There’s also a comedian that’s very underrated by the name of Tony Roberts. He inspires me because he thinks of things that other comedians can’t come up with. He’s the funniest comedian I know, and I constantly get people saying to me, “How did you come up with that?”
JR Valrey: Who are the 580 Boyz and what is y’all’s alliance about?
Mario Hodge: The 580 Boyz was an idea I put together. I just thought it was time to put the hottest comedians from Oakland together, and that’s Jay Rich, Jerry Law and myself. We all have different styles and we feed off of each other. The 580 freeway runs through East Oakland to West Oakland. Jerry Law and I are from East Oakland, and Jay Rich is from West Oakland, so that’s how I came up with the name. So many comedians from Oakland like Mark Curry, Luenell, Daniel Dugar, Donald Lacy etc. have opened doors for us, so now it’s time that we take full advantage of it and walk through them and change the game.
JR Valrey: How was your character Jheri Curl Gerald born?
Mario Hodge: Jheri Curl Gerald came from me thinking of my father and how fine and sexy he thought he was when he had a Jheri Curl. The outfits come from my stepfather. He thought he had it going on wearing ‘70s fits, so Jheri Curl Gerald is a combination of my father and stepfather. I started dancing and doing it on Facebook Live to bring joy to people, and it took off unexpectedly.
JR Valrey: Do you have any performances in Northern California coming up in the next few months?
Mario Hodge: Unfortunately, my popularity and my comedy skills have me getting booked out of state, which is a great thing, because I’m no longer a local comedian. I’m headlining all over the country in the next few months, and I go back on tour with Faizon Love, starting at the end of August. We’ll be hitting Baltimore and plenty of other cities, so be on the lookout.
JR Valrey: How could people keep up with you online?
Mario Hodge: People can find me on Instagram at MarioHodgeComedy and on Facebook at Comedian Mario Dion Hodge. They can also subscribe to my YouTube channel, which is Comedian Mario Hodge.
JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of Black New World Media, can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook. Visit www.BlackNewWorldMedia.com to read more.