Shaq Brings the Funny to YouTube

The ex-NBA great on building a comedy empire and being inspired by Eddie Murphy and Fred Sanford.

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SO: He has to be raw. He has to be funny and know how to control a crowd.

TR: What stood out about Gary Owen? What made you think he could be master of ceremonies this time out?

SO: Gary is a white guy, but he does urban comedy. We love him. He tells us about us. But he tells us in his voice, and he is funny as hell.

TR: And you just launched a YouTube channel. What was the inspiration?

SO: You have to look where technology is going. People are on their phones or computers about 60 percent of the day. Now, if you look at some TVs — they are called smart TVs — you can go to YouTube on your TV. This is where everyone is going. I know this is where I get most of my laughs and my kicks from.

TR: Any future for Shaq in stand-up?

SO: No, never. I’m a guy who could give you one or two jokes in a row just to get your reaction, and then I’m done. Boom, bam, and I’m out.

TR: Let’s talk about your work at Inside the NBA. You had a rough start. How did you improve as the year progressed? 

SO: You got to get comfortable, especially dealing with Charles [Barkley], who talks a lot. You got to know when to get it out quick or when to say it. Charles will take up the whole segment.

A lot of times I didn’t really say nothing. I didn’t know what to say or when to say it. But as the season went on, I got more comfortable. When I got there I was in professional mode, but our show is more comedy-slash-professional. I got to be a little bit more myself and just talk basketball. It will be much better this year.

TR: The NBA season starts in less than a month. The biggest story of the offseason, though, was the Lakers’ addition of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Does that make them the favorites?

SN: It does make them the favorites on paper, but older legs kinda worry me a little bit; Dwight’s back worries me a little bit. Everyone still has to go through the [Miami] Heat. I would love to see the Heat vs. the Lakers in the finals. I know the whole world wants to see that.

Thomas Golianpoulos is a writer living in New York City. He has also written for the New York Times, Grantland, the New York Observer, Wired and Vibe.