Chris Thomas is an award winning comedian who has mastered over 2000 celebrity impressions. Some of which include Barack Obama, Denzel Washington, Mike Tyson, Frank Sinatra, Bernie Mac and more. Chris Thomas has also worked on national tours with Hip Hop artist, which established him as the King Of Hip Hop Comedy. Later, Chris Thomas went on to host BET’s highest rated show “Rap City” paving the way and changing the dynamic of music video shows forever. Currently, Chris Thomas hosts a radio show every Thursday and is still a very well respected comedian. Approaching the 30th anniversary of Rap City, I had the pleasure of chatting with the legend. Read below as we talk coming up, the bridge between Hip Hop and Comedy and the importance of diversity.
LMCC - Who is Chris Thomas? How would people close to you describe you?
Chris - A kind, generous, humorous, witty, clever, spiritual, loving young man.
LMCC - I read that you’ve been impersonating people since the age of 8, what made you want to turn it into a career?
Chris - Believers, people believed in me. Comedy is imagination. When I was growing up, I wanted to save the world. I watched shows like superman and that’s who I tried to be. I remember trying to jump off the house with my costume on to be like superman. I was on the morning announcements in Junior High School and Highschool. I did impressions and then the principle would come on. I was apart of the Howard Players at Howard University. It was all really word of mouth. People told other people about me. There was no social media so people just believed what they heard about me and gave me opportunities.
LMCC - Who were some of your influences growing up?
Chris - In comedy, Richard Little… Followed by the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King and my parents. I grew up with diversity. I never felt an issue when it came to race. Anger is a matter of attitude. We all need to love one another.
LMCC- In your opinion, who do you do the best impersonation of?
Chris - People really love by Barack Obama and Bernic Mac impressions.
LMCC - What was it like hosting rap city?
Chris - It was my destiny. Chris Rock was actually asked to host a rap tour and he declined. I had the next audition with Run DMC. They loved me and said they were going to take me on tour. They then gave me the title “The Original Hip Hop King Of Comedy”. They never thought that comedy and hip hop would work out but it did. I was hired to keep people entertained in between shows so that less fights would break out. I then went to the audition for Rap City. Everyone had on bow ties but I had on a ripped up jean suit and they liked it. The dynamic of the "Rap City" changed when Will Smith and another rapper came on the show. Will Smith, who has already knew me was like “What are you doing to Chris? He doesn’t need that teleprompter, let him flow on air”. When the producers agreed to just let me flow, "Rap City" got very popular. I was doing skits, going to different locations and giving people something else to watch. A lot of people question if Rap City would have lasted as long as it did if I didn’t add that extra element. I feel privileged to have been apart of the longest show in BET history but I don’t think BET as a network pays homage to the show. There are no follow ups and anniversary specials. It’s like they forgot that "Rap City" paved the way.
LMCC - What is your 30th anniversary event for Rap City going to be like? Who will you be including?
Chris - I want it to be more like a party that political. I want it to be fun. I want people from all walks of life to come together and have fun because thats what Rap City was about. I’m not 100% sure what Hip Hop artists to put on it but I’ve spoke to people like KRS 1, Whodini and Chubb Rock about coming on board.
LMCC- How do you like doing radio?
Chris - Radio is unique. In the past, I used to call into a New York show. When Tony, whom is apart of my management first asked me I was a little skeptical. But, he said I would be able to do what I want. The show is 30 mins and people listen. It’s like a magazine, television and radio show. We have whats the word, word of the day, joke clip of the day, hip hop clip of the day, horoscopes, a girl calls in and does impressions.. we preach love and happiness… we just really have a good time on air.
LMCC - What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment thus far?
Chris - I don’t think I’ve done the biggest one yet because I’m still on my journey. Hosting "Rap City" and being in the Public Enemy video was big but I don’t think I’ve reached my height yet. I was asked to play Bernie Mac’s brother and a character on the Jamie Foxx show but I never wanted to get stereotyped into a character and not able to further my career. So yea, I haven’t reached it yet.
LMCC -Do you see yourself acting in major films.
Chris- I see myself doing a movie, I have a lot of people reaching out to me but I would have to believe in the movie. I would have to make people laugh and send a message about life and loving each other. It’s okay to have a little envy as long as you turn it into positivity. It would also have to be a diverse movie. I hate slave movies. I think they need to stop making them. We’ve had a black president. We have black congressmen and senators. There’s no need to show this element of history. Honestly though, I think they took a lot away from movies when they started showing us how to make movies. It took away the imagination and creativity from the viewers. There will be a scene in the middle of the desert but it’s really a green screen. It takes away from the actual movie to focus on the actor and I don’t really like that aspect of major films.
LMCC - What was the biggest obstacle you faced in your career?
Chris - None. I’m probably the funniest guy the world ever knew. By that I mean ,my brand of comedy is real. It’s not based off talking about folks. It’s based off my personal relationships and experiences.
LMCC - What advice would you give to a comedian coming up?
Chris - Be themselves and be inspired. It’s all about your character. Give it your all, love god.. he is giving you the grace. And find you some friends that believe in you.
LMCC - What can we expect from you up and coming?
Chris - The rap city tour, the Chris Thomas podcast, a gospel movie entitled “The Gospel Singer” and a lot more.