By Dayle J Hoffmann
On a business trip to Los Angles, CA at the end of January, Beau Burton, a resident of Sarasota and LA, invited me to join him, Lee Bell (CBS) and B.D. Freeman (Comedian/Host Personality) for dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel. While exchanging stories, I found Freeman to be a very funny yet genuine individual; people in Sarasota’s entertainment industry could be inspired by and learn from him. He plans on visiting SRQ after he wraps filming his new season, The Greatest on VH1. A phone interview seemed a good way to keep in touch and get people familiar with him prior to his visit.
What brings you to Sarasota? What do you like about it?
My friend Beau Burton had some projects there and we talked about doing something together. The people are really great. They watch my show; they come right up, so polite, so sweet with their comments about my work and the show. Plus, the air feels different in Sarasota than around the country. I love geography and that tropical feel. It’s amazing watching the storms roll in, the thunder, lighting and wind. Being from the Midwest we always had them, you move to LA and they don’t exist.
Did you always know you wanted to be a comedian?
As a child, I watched Johnny Carson standing there in front of an entire audience making everyone laugh. He would have sketches, dress in different clothes and people were always smiling, I never understood anything he said. My youngest memory was, “I want to do that! Even before I knew what “that” was!
Who Inspires You?
I’m a bit of a Frankenstein monster; for me it’s: I’ll take that guys eyeball, that guys left arm; I’ll take this lady’s left foot and put together my own thing. It’s not just one person it’s a lot of people past and present. I studied different people and their styles, like Sammy Davis Junior who had an amazing style of delivery with the audience, whether singing, telling a funny story or doing an impression. I try to grab onto the best of all of these people and use that inspiration in what I do.
What is the one common denominator among them all?
They were great communicators! In this job you have to be an amazing communicator. You have to get from the stage, through the audience, into the cameras, into the satellites, through the wiring and into the living room. That requires a great communicator and that is what I am.
How did you get to that point of being a great communicator?
It came natural to me because I wasn’t a good student. I understood things but I didn’t understand the way that they taught in school. The kids who were seen as slow… it seemed to me they understood a lot of things just fine but, because they were seen as slow, they were dismissed. After a while they believed it themselves; they became what it is they were told they were. I never wanted to buy into that. I never believed that about myself. So, I would educate myself. I would read up on this thing and watch documentaries on that thing. I became a sponge for knowledge yet I knew that wasn’t enough.You can’t just take it in – nothing good would become of living in a vacuum. I had to be able to expel it, to explain myself and where I was coming from. I wanted to have understanding. I wanted to be able to take in what it is I was taking in and understand it, and then I would be able to explain it. Stand up comedy did that for me.
You’re known in the industry for remembering the rich history of entertainment & having the uncanny ability to make it funny. Where did that stem from?
It’s easy to grasp onto something you have a passion for and I have a passion for my industry. I do a lot of reading and research about different people and what they went through in this crazy Hollywood life we are living. I’ve always thought in order to be great you needed to know who was great and why, I want to be the greatest! For me it’s a constant study of who and why. To understand now, you have to understand what happened back then in history.
(Part 2 will be in next months paper)
(Printed in the University Palm Lakewood Ledger; February 2012 Edition by Dayle Hoffmann (Freelance Writer)