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Joél James Debuts In Kevin Hart’s Comedy Central Series

By Tracie Isaac

Joél James shares his comedic journey resulting in working with Kevin Hart.
Photo by Tracie Isaac/Minority Reporter Media Group

The comedy world is always looking for new talent and local actor/comedian/writer/producer Joél James just may be the “next one” with his forth coming television debut on the Comedy Central show Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City. On Friday, June 28th at 11pm the third episode of Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City will air on the Comedy Central cable station featuring the talent selections made in Rochester, NY. of Joél James, Travis Blunt and Zak Johnson. Mega comedian and executive producer Kevin Hart is back with a third season of fresh new comics, along with a few antics and skits of his own with co-stars Joey Wells and Harry Ratchford.

“It was James “Talent” Harris, actor and one of the New York Kings of Comedy, as well as a producer of comedy shows, who convinced Kevin Hart to take a look at local talent in Rochester, NY for his television comedy series. I auditioned with twenty-eight other comedians and I won a spot,” James.

Twenty-four comedians from eight cities made the cut to be included in this season’s Comedy Central series. The premise of the show entails Kevin Hart’s travels across the country seeking budding stand-up comedians to highlight for his comedy series. Cities featured in Season 3 are Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, New Orleans, Oakland, Rochester, San Diego and St. Louis.

Joél James is a native of Rochester and began his journey as an actor, studying dramatic acting for six years at the Geva Theater with a group called the Enterprise Zone. He coined the phrase “HoodBurban” which refers to his exposure to the ‘hood’ but he lived in the suburbs. Everyone had often told Joél James that he should be a comedian but he wanted to be a serious actor. With continual nudging one night in 2006, James and some friends went to the Comix Café and he entered a contest. Competing with up to thirteen comedians who had experience performing stand-up, James won the contest that night with his first attempt at performing comedy.

Energy and laughter is contagious when you are in the presence of Joél James. He stated that his comedy content comes from his real life experiences with family and situations. Explaining that he gets agitated very easily, James draws content from the situation of the things that really bother him, and that becomes inspiration and material for his routines. Laughing, James said “I love a prank! I used to do them in high school using different voices and creating characters. That is so much fun for me.”

When asked how does the comedy industry relate to him as a black male, James responded “As a black male, I find that it is a little difficult for me in this industry with some males, male audience members, and especially with black men. I grew up around a lot of women and even my brothers would push their girlfriends to sit with me because I get along with women. Women get me and I get women. Where is Barbara Walters, has anyone seen Barbara… Forget about finding Waldo. Where is Barbara?!”

Writing his own material has garnered Joél James additional opportunities like producing radio and television commercials for local companies. His material is a different point of view but very relatable. James feels that he appeals to women more than men because he understands women and women get him. He is inspired by women like Joan Rivers, Barbara Walters and television shows like The View and Golden Girls.

Creativity, wearing different entrepreneurial hats, and staying on the grind keeps James busy. Producing comedy shows like Joél James Presents HERLARIOUS, is one of his productions which is a tribute to women in comedy featuring various female comedians. Additionally, he plans to produce The Joél James Comedy Festival and Jokes & Jazz, a show slated for the fall of 2019, filled with family friendly comedy and music from local jazz saxophone player Jimmy Highsmith. Lastly, Mr. James plans to bring back his old acting troupe and produce murder/mystery shows.

Relocating to Los Angeles, CA maybe the next move for Joél James. He already has a Los Angeles area telephone number and looks forward to exploring more opportunities on the West Coast.

“I want to be known for working with youth and making an impact on their lives. I make Vision Boards and Kevin Hart is an image that I placed on my board at the beginning of his career. I have always admired Kevin Hart’s talent and rise to success. When children see that I selected Kevin Hart as one of my success goals which has come true, that is really powerful,” commented James.

For more information on Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City visit the newly launched Comedy Central Stand-Up Channel on YouTube, Comedy Central social media accounts and the Comedy Central app. To follow Joél James and view more of his unique comedy visit Joél James On YouTube, Facebook and other social media accounts.