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Mike Epps / Stand-Up Comedian, Actor.

Mike Epps
Mike Epps was born on November 18, 1970, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Growing up, he split time between Indianapolis, where he lived with his mother and eight siblings, and Gary, Indiana, where he spent summers with his grandparents. Epps has pointed to his large family, in which he had a lot of competition for his mother's attention, as the source of his natural inclination to entertain. He was always the class clown, sometimes taking it too far. He spent a few months in a juvenile detention center for a prank gone bad: sticking a classmates' hands together with Super Glue.

More trouble followed. Epps dropped out of high school, started dealing drugs, and spent some time in prison. Back on the streets, Epps one day followed an impulse that seemed obvious to everyone who knew him: He decided to try his hand at stand-up comedy. He entered a stand-up contest at an Indiana club called Seville's. Epps was an instant hit. He left the Midwest with $80 in his pocket and headed to Atlanta to launch a career in comedy. He began to establish a reputation at the Comedy Act Theater, which held amateur nights on Tuesdays. The style he developed during this period was modern in its sensibility, but in many ways his spontaneous approach showed to be a throwback to the comedy heroes he had admired as a youth; Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby and Redd Foxx.

So well was Epps received in Atlanta that the owner of the Comedy Act Theater suggested he try his luck in New York. In New York, he immediately set out to find a place in the city's comedy clubs. However, a vibrant underground black comedy scene was emerging around this time, inspired by the phenomenon of HBO's Def Comedy Jam. By 1995 he had appeared in two of HBO's Def Comedy Jam broadcasts and traveled with the Def Comedy Jam Tour. In 1997 he made his movie debut, appearing in Strays, Vin Diesel's first film as a director.

Epps landed a role in an episode of the hit HBO series The Sopranos in 1999. Later that year, he learned that Ice Cube was looking for somebody to cast as his co-star in Next Friday, a sequel to the movie Friday. In Friday, Ice Cube's debut as a film producer, Chris Tucker had filled the sidekick role, and it had made him a household name. Upon hearing that Tucker had bowed out of the sequel, Epps decided to make his best pitch for the part. He went to Los Angeles and invited Ice Cube to catch his stand-up act. Ice Cube was impressed and urged Epps to audition for the role of Day-Day, his suburban cousin. Epps soon landed the part. The movie opened at the top of the box-office charts.

Other movie appearances followed. He had a cameo in DJ Pooh's 3 Strikes, and a supporting role in the action comedy Bait, starring Jamie Foxx. Epps had a voice role in the 2001 family comedy Dr. Doolittle 2, and was in How High, a vehicle for hip-hop artists Redman and Method Man. Epps then joined forces with Ice Cube once again in All About the Benjamins, and for the third installment in the Friday series, Friday After Next. Epps also appears in The Fighting Temptations (2003), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004). In 2005 Epps portrayed Ed Norton in a new African-American film version of the classic 1950s The Honeymooners, and the film Guess Who, an update of the Sidney Poitier classic Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Mike Epps himself tied the knot, marrying Michelle McCain, 2006. Epps remained busy with other projects, including another installment of the Resident Evil series and several other films still in the development phase. Yet stand-up comedy remained a vital part of Epps' career.


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