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Q & A

Navy veteran Gary Owen headlining Marquee Comedy Tour

By RODGER MULLEN | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: October 3, 2019

(Tribune News Service) — Comedian Gary Owen has starred in his own BET television show and appeared in movies with Eddie Murphy and the Wayans brothers.

But he figures the best is yet to come.

"I think in this business, you will never reach your goals, because if you sell a thousand tickets, you want to sell two thousand tickets. If you win an Oscar, you want to win another Oscar, if you make a movie that gets $100 million, you want to make another one that makes $200 million," he said. "I just think you never meet your goals, and that's the grind. Your goals always change."

Owen is headlining the Marquee Comedy Tour, which makes a stop at the Crown Complex Friday at 8 p.m.

The comedian is appearing on a slate that also includes Lavelle Crawford, Tommy Davidson, Tony Rock and Sommore.

Born in Cincinnati and raised in an Ohio trailer park, Owen honed his comedy skills during a six-year stint in the Navy.

He appeared on "The Wayans Brothers" television show in 1998 and made his film debut the following year in "Held Up," which starred Jamie Foxx.

Since then, Owen has performed in movies including "Daddy Day Care," "Think Like a Man" and "Ride Along." He hosted "Comic View" on BET and had his own self-titled show on the network.

Recently, Owen answered some questions from Montgomery, Alabama, where he was on tour. Here are excerpts:

Weekender: How's the tour going?

Owen: It's good, man. You know, I haven't ever really stopped touring. It's pretty much been an ongoing tour for 20 years. Different names, different places.

Tell me about the format of the show.

It's 55 cities and the mainstay is me, I'm the headliner, and they kind of interchange the openers. Sometimes it's the same, sometimes it's a little different.

Everybody's funny, though. The promoter does a good job of making sure he gives the public their money's worth.

You served in the Navy. Is that where you started developing your comedy chops?

I would like to think (I started at) birth. I've always been funny, but the Navy is where I started getting on stage. In high school, I used to host talent shows and stuff. I was active duty when I got my first couple of TV appearances. I would take a week's leave when I was stationed in San Diego and drive up to L.A. (for shows).

How would you describe your comedy style?

I don't think there's ever been anyone like me. Usually, your fan base is a reflection of who you are. I'm a white guy from a trailer park in southern Ohio and I have a huge black fan base. I don't think there's ever been a comic that's done that, just have a different fan base than who they are.

Why is that?

I think it's just because that's who got exposed to me early in my career. I did BET's "Comic View," then I hosted it, then I had my reality show on BET and every movie I've been in except one, I think had a black lead actor.

I did "Held Up" with Jamie Foxx, I did "Daddy Day Care" with Eddie Murphy, "Rebound" with Martin Lawrence, "Little Man" with the Wayans brothers, obviously the "Think Like a Man" movies, "Ride Along" with Ice Cube ... I don't know, it just kind of happened organically.

What's been the highlight of your career so far?

I don't think it's happened yet. When I started, it was, 'I just want to get on stage and make people laugh.' And then it went to, 'I would love to go on the road and make people laugh.' And then it went to, 'I'd like to headline.' Then you start making a little money and it's like, 'Ooh, I'd really like to sell some tickets.' Your goals are always increasing.

Do you have any specific goals -- more TV, movies?

Any time I can get on camera, whether it be TV or movies (is good). This year, it's going great, I've got three movies coming out this year. It's crazy, I've got three movies in all different genres. I got one coming out Nov. 5 called "Undercover Brother 2," and that's going straight to DVD and digital. And then I've got a movie coming out in February called "Meet the Blacks 2," that's going to theaters. Then I have a movie coming out in June called "Welcome to Sudden Death," that's a Netflix movie. I've got three movies and they're getting released separately in different ways.

Do you think you'd ever branch out into more serious roles like some comedians have done?

Yeah, yeah, if it's offered. The one I have coming out in June, "Welcome to Sudden Death," it's a comedy, but it really is a martial arts movie, and it wasn't a comedy until I got attached to it. And they basically brought me in to bring a little levity to the movie. But it's not all joke, joke, joke.

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