Three decades ago, when Rodney Carrington was starting as a comedian, he did a show with Steve Harvey in Baton Rouge, La. This was long before Harvey, one of the original “Kings of Comedy,” was a household name.
“I told the club owner I had 30 minutes of material when I only had seven. I kept trying to stretch those seven minutes,” Carrington recalled. “I remember Steve Harvey saying, ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ I said, ‘Do what?’ He said, ‘Stand up for that long with nobody laughing. If you can tolerate that, you’ll be all right.’”
The club owner called Carrington a terrible comedian and told him that he should give it up and go back home to his native Longview, Texas.
“I thought about it on the long drive back home. He paid me $400 and I was terrible. I wondered what he’d pay me if I was good? It’s a telling thing that you can take something someone says and look at it one way. It was a crossroads for me,” said the 50-year-old, who also acts and sings. “I learned you have to have a high tolerance for humiliation.”
Carrington, who now performs hours of stand-up without having to stretch his material, will bring his music-filled show, “Rodney Carrington Live,” to Pikes Peak Center on Thursday.
“I look forward to performing in Colorado,” he said. “I feel a real kinship with the people there.”
Carrington’s ability to connect with audiences nationwide has served him well. He’s been a jack of all trades in the entertainment industry, starring in the ABC sitcom “Rodney” from 2004 to 2008; publishing a comedy book, “Rodney Carrington, Coming Clean,” in 2007; and, in 2008, co-writing and co-starring with country singer Toby Keith in the comedy film “Beer for My Horses.”
Carrington has recorded eight comedy albums, including the certified gold “Morning Wood” and the certified platinum “Greatest Hits,” and had a few network comedy specials, such as his latest, “Here Comes the Truth,” on Netflix in 2017.
A divorced father of three grown sons, Carrington said the road is as much home to him as his house in Tulsa, Okla. His strong work ethic has led to success, and he has ranked among the Top 10 highest-grossing touring comedians for the past 10 years, according to Pollstar.
“I’ve been everywhere,” he said. “The show’s ever-evolving. Everything I talk about comes from my own personal experience. I’ve been doing it now for 30 years, and I’m enjoying it now probably more than I ever have.”
The audience should be prepared for “mature” content. “I don’t think you should bring your kid to it,” he warned. “I’d recommend it for 21 and over.”