Haven’t heard of Kevin Barnett yet? Just wait.
The comedian, South Florida native and one-time series regular on MTV2’s Guy Code is one of the stars of truTV’s sketch comedy series Friends of the People, returning at 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
This season, the SNL-type show is taking on even more pop-culture topics as well as spoofs on Batman, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and Jurassic Park.
We talked to Barnett, who attended Joella Good Elementary School in Hialeah and A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. He now lives in New York.
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How did you get into comedy?
There was a guy coming to our college [FSU] who was very well known among students but not a big name. My friend and I weren’t crazy into stand-up, but we were aware of him. We decided to check out a clip of him online before going and we were like, ‘This guy sucks, and he’s getting all this money! We could get this money probably!’ We started that night. Doesn’t get more noble than that.
What was something you wanted to do and gave up for a comedic career?
I did jazz and that was hard. Comedy was not as hard. It was an easy decision.
Who are your inspirations?
Dave Chappelle I’d say has always been the biggest influence. His commentary is always so spot-on, but at the same time he’s such a great storyteller and an incredibly interesting dude. He has every aspect of a good comedian — from writing to performance to being a genuinely honest human being, which I think is the most important thing. Even more so than straight-up laughs. Bill Burr and Patrice O’Neal are also two guys I’d say were huge for me. Both of them have a sort of fearlessness to their comedy and the stuff they’ll talk about. Patrice would voice very unpopular opinions but in a way that even if you 100 percent disagreed with him, it was so funny and logical that it would be hard to stay mad at anything he said.
Talk about your experience working on “Friends of the People.”
It’s from a comedy collective of seven people. We all write and act in the show, and you get a sense of who everyone is through the sketches. We all grew up in the ’90s so there’s a lot of references to that era and a lot of cameos from people from some of our favorite shows of that time.
In your humble opinion, what’s been your funniest gig to date?
Well, one time early on I got booed off stage in front of half of my college [laughs]. After a while the good shows kind of all blend together. You don’t really remember them. The bad ones you look back on and end up being the funniest to you in hindsight. When you try to do stand-up, you’re really just trying to let people see who you are as a person and make them relate to you and the way you see the world. So when you go out into a room full of people, and they hate all of your jokes or stories, that means that that entire room of people hates you as a person. And to me, there’s nothing funnier than that. I used to feel bad when my friends did badly on shows. Now as long as I know that the person is actually funny, watching them fail is one of the funniest things in the world.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Getting the checks.
Any other inspirations?
I’m gonna quit comedy and just get really dope at eating food so I can become a food critic. I just realized those people get free food and they just write a paragraph in some blog. I can do it. I believe in myself. I just need America to believe in me, too.