Craig Robinson may now be an all-star comedian, so well known he’s playing himself in the movies, but the first time he tried doing stand-up he didn’t even have a joke.
The only reason he went on stage actually was because he’d talked a big game to a woman, and had to show face.
“I opened my mouth at this New Year’s Day dinner, there was this real pretty girl I was trying to impress, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I do comedy,’” Robinson tells theGrio. “Somebody was like ‘Oh, we got an open mic Wednesday,’ and I was like, ‘I’mma do it.’ So, I’m driving down to the open mic, and I’m like, ‘Wow I don’t have any jokes.’ I started thinking about the stuff people used to tease me about in high school, and then I was like, but these don’t have punch lines. I don’t know what to do.”
Don’t assume the This Is the End star came through shining either. He was, for lack of a better word, a dud.
“I didn’t get booed or nothing, people just kind of stared at me like, ‘Why are you wasting our time?’” He remembers. “By all accounts, I should have never gotten on stage to do comedy again, but something about it, I felt at home up there.”
Thus, he went up again, and again…and again. That was over a decade ago, and Robinson has since brought his honest, often melodic humor from the comedy clubs to the television to the big screen.
Started from the bottom and he’s here
Known to many as the irritable, sometimes mischievous Darryl Philbin on the hit series The Office, the 41-year-old actor began his career as a music teacher in Chicago, teaching by day as he tested out his wit in the city’s highly competitive stand-up scene at night. In 1999, he moved to L.A., and proceeded to pun, prod, and jest till the people in power finally started laughing.
“They wanted to get people they were familiar with together and who the audience was familiar with seeing,” Robinson explains about his new big screen comedy, in theaters June 12.
The film co-stars Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, and Danny McBride, all playing themselves in a far-fetched, albeit lifelike take on how six total dudes would handle the Earth’s perpetuating doom.
The movie sets off with the ultimate throw down at Franco’s bachelor pad in the Hollywood Hills. Kevin Hart, Michael Cera, and Rihanna are there. So are Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari and Emma Watson. So is, well, everyone.
It’s not far from reality either, says Robinson.
“We’ve definitely done our share of partying,” he admits. “I’ve been to their weddings, stuff like that.”
Unfortunately for the crew, the salacious shindig is disrupted by the apocalypse, and the tight group of friends is left to fiend for themselves as they strategize how to get into Heaven.
In real life, Robinson says he’s not terribly concerned about the afterlife – he hopes God will instruct him to “get on the piano” – though spiritual penance is in the back of his mind.
“I’m worried about my daily lifestyle,” he says. “I got a school of thought that’s like God made us in his own image right? So, the things that you do gotta be approved.”