Craig Robinson Doesn’t Mind Being the Token Black Guy (Pg. 2)
How do you pick a role like that? Are you in a position where you can be picky or do you take anything that comes along?
It’s a little bit of both. We turned down a few roles this year. But I’m blessed when it comes to choosing the roles and picking up jobs.
Well your journey is a little bit different. You didn’t take the BET Comic View road, and you didn’t go with the Saturday Night Live school. If anything people would put you in the [director] Judd Apatow school. Has that worked to your advantage?
Working with Judd Apatow and friends really cut my teeth on how to make a movie; like as a director. It was just let the cameras roll; a lot of improvising. They were just fishing stuff out. With Knocked Up, the bouncer role, I improvised a lot. The first half of the scene is written dialogue and the second half of the scene was improvising.
What is that like for you though to be in these situations where basically you are the only black guy? Do you ever feel like you’ve got to put on so to speak?
Naw, I just go in and do the work. It’s funny you say that ‘cause [in Hot Tub Time Machine] Chevy Chase said he didn’t realize my character was black until page 90. My manager has always sent me in for roles no matter what it says. It could have said white guy, blonde hair, blue eyes and my manager would have sent me in anyway. He’s always been that kind of dude and as far as me being the only cat on set. Obviously I can think about it and sometimes I might be in a place where words reflect out. Like one character is saying their line, another character says their line, and then here comes all the curse words in my lines. If anything that’s the only way I’ve seen it reflected so to speak.
Has there ever been a role or script for your character that you saw that was uncomfortable?
There was one scene in Eastbound & Down. It was a line that said, “I don’t give a F about Jesus and I’m like ‘Naw I can’t say that.’” I had to switch that up. But then you have improv and no worries. I pretty much roll with the punches.
When you do your standup, what’s the difference for you between performing in front of black audiences and white audiences?
Black audiences got a cousin or somebody who can do what you’re doing. You better come with it. Not to mention they might have more than one job, it’s still money on that ticket. If you don’t come bringing it then they’re going to let you hear about it. Every other audience is kind of laid back and goes in for the ride. Black people do as well although they challenge you more.