“As fast as this is growing, I can see it eclipsing BET and all of them in a couple years’ time,” Gooding predicts. “But it’s not about a rivalry or anything. It’s just about more programming geared toward African Americans, and I’m really honored that they chose our series to be the first original scripted series.”
Uptown Comic features a mix of established and up-and-coming comedians. The show finds Torry in a familiar hosting role; he fronted the popular and arguably standard-setting Def Comedy Jam series in 1995. But in the many years that have passed since that gig, Torry notes how the standup art continues to evolve and how this new show will help that process.
“When I started, I wanted to hone my act to perform on Johnny Carson,” he recalls. “And then came Def Comedy Jam and it gave [me] a pass to go straight to the big time. And now, I think it comes full circle to see if you can bring the Johnny Carson act back to the main stage. You don’t have to have cable to watch this; it’s just going to come on a basic channel, so this is a great avenue and it’s going to start a whole new wave of comedians and new careers. This show will, shall I say, sharpen your skills as a comedian-writer to be able to perform.”
While Bounce TV has stated that its target audience is African-American viewers who are 25 to 54, Torry is quick to add that what he’s been developing can also interest mainstream audiences. “Whether it be Hispanic, European or Asian or anything other than just [who would typically watch] a black network,” he says, “We speak to that whole demographic of people.”