By David Gavri
Born in Houston, seasoned in Los Angeles, Steve Flye has spent the last fifteen years entertaining audiences all over the world. And that’s just for comedy. An all-around entertainer, ever since the age of five, Flye was starring in commercials for CBS. Throughout his childhood, he successfully auditioned for a choir known as The Singing Boys of Houston. So at an early age, Flye became accustomed to performing and life on the road as he toured with the choir for years. He was granted the opportunity to perform in places like San Fransisco, Canada, and New York’s famous, Carnegie Hall.
In 1997 Flye was first introduced to comedy at Houston’s Laff Stop where he entered Houston’s Funniest Person Contest, finishing in the final four. That same year, he moved to Los Angeles, where he spent his career acting, writing, and performing comedy. Flye has made quite a name for himself out there in the Los Angeles comedy circuit, appearing in top comedy clubs, such as the famous Hollywood Improv, The Ice House Comedy Club, and The Laugh Factory. Flye has been seen on BET’s Comic View, Loco Comedy Jam, CSI: Las Vegas, and recently, Bar Rescue on SPIKE. Getting Steve Flye to agree to this interview was easy, but attaining the interview from him was rather difficult. Although, CSiH managed to pull it together and make it happen. These are the events that took place throughout the Steve Flye interview. Catch him tonight and all weekend as he performs with Corey Holcomb at the Houston Improv.
[At precisely 6AM Saturday, CSiH gets a phone call]
CSiH: [barely awake] Hello?
Flye: Yo wake up! Time to do that interview.
CSiH: Now? I thought you wanted to meet up tomorrow?
Flye: Oh is that what YOU thought? Yeah well plans changed. Meet me at my house, les go.
[arrive at Steve Flye’s house by 7AM]
CSiH: [rings the doorbell, Flye answers the door] Brought some Egg McMuffins. Want one?
Flye: [Flye grabs the bag of Egg McMuffins, and is groggily eating them, talking with his mouth full] Man whatchu you doin ringin my doorbell at seven in the morning?!
CSiH: I thought we were doing the intervi—
Flye: Yeah, when I’m done takin care of my grandmother! [keeps the Egg McMuffins and slams the door]
[CSiH receives a phone call at 1PM]
Flye: You still here? Get over here, les do this.
CSiH: [comes back, knocks on the door]
Flye: [answers the door] Come in. [walks into the living room where Flye takes up the whole couch, leaving me to stand]
[moment of awkward silence]
CSiH: So, let’s get started. I’d like to ask you—
Flye: Man can’t you see the Texans are playing?!
CSiH: Don’t they play tomorrow…?
Flye: Na dawg THE TEXANS GAME! [points to the TV and refers to the video game, Madden 2013, in which Flye is playing as the Texans]
[awkward silence—CSiH sits there for the next 30 minutes as Flye plays Madden 2013]
Flye: [game is now over] Hell yeah! We won that shit! [slams the game controller down, turns the TV off, and sits back down] So why you wanna interview me? You a cop or somethin?!
CSiH: Na, I’m not a c—
Flye: Then watchu wanna ask me?
Uhh…let’s begin with your story. How’d you get started in show business?
Well…when I was a lil kid, I used to do commercials. KHOU Channel 11 did a series of Black History commercials with kids. I was there in a library setting wearing a suit ‘n tie, with my lil afro, talkin about Frederick Douglass. And once I hit middle school, I went to a school where everybody had some sorta artistic skill—singing, acting, playin an instrument—all that. In fact, it was the same school that Beyonce’ went to. Shout out to Wells Middle School! And I was in the choir, so that’s where I first got my experience in live stage performing. I got a feel for what it’s like to live as a performer.
Woulda guessed you to be a football player, not a choir boy. [laughs—but Flye does not]
[silent pause] Uhh na, I played football, too. When I got older, my main focus was football. In fact, I got a scholarship to play at Tulane University. Shout out to the N.O. and the Green Wave! Laissez Le Bon Temps Roulez!
[now feeling dumb] Interesting.
So you’d been in acting, choir, and football—when and how did you get into comedy?
After I finished college, I came back to Houston, and eventually wanted to go to Los Angeles to become an actor. So I worked ‘n saved up some money before I left. Got a job at the Laff Stop.In fact, that’s how I met Bob Biggerstaff—he worked there with me. But he didn’t go by Bob Biggerstaff back then. He went by “The Notorious B.O.B.” [moment of laughter] And that’s how I first got involved in comedy. When it was time for Houston’s Funniest Contest, me and Bob signed up together. I ended up getting 4th place. And after that, I moved to L.A.
Who were your comedy mentors out there in L.A.?
There’s too many to name. Off the top of my head, there’s Corey Holcomb, Joey Madina, Edwin San Juan, Yoursie Thomas, D. Militant, Honest John, Shang Forbes, and Felipe Esparza—and so many more. There was Jeff Garcia who showed me around and took me under his wing. Within two months of being in L.A., we were doin comedy on the regular. I learned a lot from him. He taught me all about timing, rhythm ‘n beats—all that techincal stuff.
So you moved to L.A. to pursue a career in show business—and you managed to stay there for fifteen years. What’s the secret?
Hard work. [moment of silence] Thats it. [laughs] Aint no shortcuts in this game. Gotta have A LOT of patience. You’re in this for the long haul. Gotta stay on your grind. At one point I had nine rooms out there running weekly for at least two years. Just drivin all around town, hittin up spot after spot, makin it work. I may not be “famous” worldwide, but I’ve performed worldwide, so I’m known worldwide. I’ve been an integral part of the L.A. comedy scene, and because I show respect, I’m well respected in the game.
Why did you leave L.A.?
While I was out there, my mom suddenly passed away. We thought it was the flu, turned out, she had cerebral meningitis. Before we all knew it, she was gone—just like that. So at that moment, my path changed completely. I mean, people move FROM Houston TO L.A., not the other way around. For me, it wasn’t a career move, it was a life move. I’m here for my family.
And my mom had been taking care of my grandmother who has alzheimer’s and dementia. She’s immobile, her speech is limited, and it’s very hard to communicate with her. Not only was my mom gone, but my grandmother was left without her primary care giver. So I came out here to be the one to take care of her. I move her, feed her, take her to ‘n from the bathroom, give her showers ‘n all that. It’s kinda like caring for a baby. My grandmother and I laugh all day. So, I bring smiles to my grandmothers face, daily. It’s shown me the true value of a smile. And comedy has helped me get through it all.
[moment of silence]
Flye: Say—hold up, I gotta go get me some gummy bears!
CSiH: Uhh…ok…should I wait here till you get back?
Flye: Oh you try’na bug my place while I’m gone? Hell naw, you comin with me.
[in the car on the way, we’re stopped behind the railroad tracks, at a stop light]
Flye: Hey pull up a lil further, some cute bitches in that car next to us.
CSiH: [hesitates] But if I pull up, we’ll be on the railroad tr—
Flye: Man just pull up!
CSiH: [We pull up, Flye smiles and waves to the girls in the car, and they smile]
Flye: [rolls down his window] Say, where you get yo car washed?
Girls in the Car: Uh…no inglés! hehe!
Flye: Hey, y’all like unibrows? [moment of laughter, and as the light turns green, we drive off]
[we pick up some gummy bears and head back back to Flye’s house for the rest of the interview]
Coming from the L.A. comedy scene, what differences do you see with the Houston scene?
There’s alotta bitterness out here. And I get it, comedy’s an ego driven game. But there’s no reason for it—not here. This comedy scene out here is just one little creek—behind the Johnson’s house. [laughs] And everyone’s swimmin around like, “I’m the best swimmer in this bitch!” And if you’ve been swimming in only ONE creek your whole life, you’re bound to think that. But these mothafuckas have NO IDEA what the fuck is goin on out there in the bigger bodies of water. “Big Charles” might be the biggest ‘n baddest mothafucka in this ONE creek—but you got sharks ‘n whales way out there in the ocean!
How can Houston comedy improve?
Make friends with everybody. Don’t be a hater. Comedy needs more community—theres no teamwork. You’ll make more happen if you put your talents together. I get it, it’s an ego-driven business, but you gotta work together at the same time. We all need to learn words like “Patience”, “Compassion”, “Integrity”, “Understanding”. I’ve been fortunate to have six rooms out here that not only provide stage time on the weekends, but also a chance for comics to get paid. I’d like to see more of that out here.
You were supposed to open for Katt Williams at the Toyota Center, but the show was cancelled at the last minute. What can you say about Katt and what he’s been going through?
We’ve known each other for a long time. I was thankful for the opportunity. Katt is a good person. Nobody knows what he’s truly going through. Unfortunately, they’re making him look worse than he really is. It’s tough for anyone who goes from not havin millions of dollars, to having millions—IMMEDIATELY. Your trust factor becomes rather sensitive. And that causes you to act in a certain way. When Big said, “Mo’ money mo’ problems,” there was a REASON he said it.
What would you consider to be the “dark side” of comedy?
I’d say the game lacks integrity in certain aspects—people not paying you when they know they should’ve paid you. People stealing your material. I’ve seen alotta people steal other peoples’ shit. My stuff gets stolen a lot. Unfortunately, it’s just part of it. If anything, I see it as a form of flattery when other people are doing your shit.
Despite all of its ups and downs, why do you do comedy?
At the core of it, it makes me feel better to make others feel better. To make people forget about their problems. I like making other people happy, that’s it.
What are your goals for the future?
Just do work. I’ve been here for ten months, and I’ve started six paid rooms out here. I’m also pitchin some movie and TV show ideas that I’ve written. And I also shoot sketches, which I’m hoping to get done within the next few months.
Flye: Hey speakin of goals for the future…we gunna need to eat somethin. There’s some chicken in the fridge, go heat it up.
CSiH: [heats up the chicken in the oven and goes back to the interview]
While the food’s cookin, any advice for the younger comics?
Just be you. If you’re nice deep down inside, then be it. And if you’re an asshole deep down, be it as well. If you’re interesting as you, then you can make shit happen. Just relax and stay humble.
Comedy is all about getting gratification from the people laughing right there in front of you. People will get a lot funnier when they start thinkin, “I’m doing this for ME! This is about MY LIFE!” These people in front of you want the same thing you want—they just wanna be happy—so make em happy.
Oh and uhh…shoot for the stars. [laughs]
Also, I wanna comment on the Houston Texans real quick: I’ve never been around this many Texans fans. I’m so happy to be around so many people who are so happy the Texans got a first down!!! We gotta believe in our team for our team to keep winning. We win Sunday, and the furthest we’ll hafta go is a hop, a skip, and a jump to New Orleans to play one more game. I really hope they do it this year, go Texans!
[smoke coming from inside the house]
Flye: Yo did you burn the chicken?
CSiH: [forgot about the chicken] Uh…
[both go inside, there’s smoke everywhere]
Flye: Damn! This is definitely some cop shit. You tryin to get the fire department called on us?! Man just go…
CSiH: I can clean it up…
Flye: Na, you need to leave. My grandmother wants you outta here. Peace.
Interviewed & Written by: David Gavri