9 Things We Learned from Martin Lawrence’s ‘Tonight Show’ Interview

by | August 4, 2014 at 4:13 PM | Black Entertainment, Can't Stop Watching, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Martin Lawrence on "The Tonight Show." (Photo: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC)

I love “Martin.”

Lupita Nyong’o told me in February that she loves “Martin.”

And Jimmy Fallon recently professed that he loves the iconic ’90s TV comedy, too.

“I loved your movies, your stand-up. ‘Martin,’ the TV show, was one of my favorites. It looks like it was so fun to make that,” Jimmy Fallon told Martin Lawrence during is visit to the “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” Friday. “Gosh it was brilliant.”

I mean, the show, as over-the-top as it was, was very, very funny. It’s one of the reasons why I respect Tisha Campbell-Martin and Tichina Arnold for their comedic timing.

And it’s nice to see that 20 years later, people still love “Martin,” which aired on Fox from 1992-1997. It’s also nice to see Martin Lawrence making the rounds last week to promote his new FX comedy “Partners,” co-starring Kelsey Grammer.

I first remember Martin from his stint on the ’80s sitcom “What’s Happening Now!!,” a sequel to the ’70s hit, “What’s Happening!!” Next, I saw him as Kid ‘n Play’s pal and deejay Bilal in “House Party,” and then in “Do the Right Thing” (I saw “House Party” before “Do the Right Thing”). I recall my parents being a fan of Martin’s, too, watching his film “Talkin’ Dirty After Dark,” and then him as host of HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam.” But it was role as Detroit on-air radio (and later TV) personality Martin Payne that sealed his fate as one of comedy’s greats. I, along with many, still watch reruns ’til this day.

Martin went on to star in a string of films, including the “Bad Boys” films, “A Thin Line Between Love & Hate,” “Wild Hogs” and the “Big Momma’s House” franchise. Even with this, he had some emotional challenges that seemed to darken his shine and contributed to him becoming M.I.A., leaving many (myself included) to ask, “What the hell happened to Martin Lawrence?!” Well, he looks well and is back with this new series that debuts tonight at 9 p.m. ET on FX.

In addition, to Jimmy’s adoration for “Martin,” I’ve listed eight other things about Mr. Lawrence that was previously unknown to me (and maybe you, too). Read it and then watch the interview below to see if anything else stands out for you.

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1. Martin got his first break on “Star Search.” Claudia McMahonEd McMahon’s daughter, discovered him. Who knew?

2. He wanted to do comedy after watching Richard Pryor’s work as a kid. “I wanted to do it so bad,” Martin remembers. At 12, he told his mother, “Mama, either I’ll make it in comedy or I won’t make it at all.” Yes!

3. Another “comic genius,” Chris Rock, acknowledges Martin’s comedic gifts. “The only person [Chris Rock] will not follow is you. He was like, ‘I can’t follow Martin Lawrence. He destroys,’” Jimmy told Martin. That’s saying A LOT.

4. He was banned from NBC after hosting “Saturday Night Live” in 1994. I knew he was banned from “SNL” but didn’t realize it was the entire network. “I shouldn’t have been doing all sex jokes in my monologue on TV. I was totally out of order, ” Martin says. The ban’s obviously been lifted (“The Tonight Show’s” on NBC).

5. Martin’s oldest daughter Jasmine, 18, will be attending Duke University this fall.

6. He really enjoys working with Kelsey Grammer. “That’s my man, he’s a good guy,” Martin says of his co-star.

7. He met Kelsey Grammer briefly at his “Wild Hogs” co-star Tim Allen’s house. The audience seemed to find that amusing.

8. Martin can still move. Any fan of “Martin” remembers its slapstick humor and Martin’s agility whether doing a high-kick as martial arts expert Dragonfly Jones or dancing with his love, Gina. So it was refreshing to see that two decades later, he can still bust a move doing the “Jerome Walk,” as Jimmy calls it, and other dances.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.