INTERVIEW: Fremont Comedian "Ishoos" Used Homelessness as Motivation

A native of a small town in Ohio, Fremont to exact, Comedian Ishoos always dreamed of being an entertainer but didn’t take his talent seriously until he became homeless in 2004 and found himself waking up in 86' Caprice and taking sink baths at the local K-Mart. With no plan in mind, he started writing jokes as an outlet to ease the pain of losing everything. Too ashamed to ask for handouts from friends and family, he sold everything he had and took a chance on himself. Determined to not fail he started knocking on the doors of the local comedy clubs. After being told "no" by seemingly every major comedy club in Ohio he decided that he wouldn’t give up, instead he would devise a new strategy.  There’s more than one way to success. Choose yours.

From the OH: In your bio, you specify something called "Common Sense Comedy". What's your definition of that and how does it make you stand out from any other comedian?

Ishoos: To me "Common Sense Comedy", is just taking an ordinary thing that should be common sense and making a joke out of it.  For me it's a simple concept; I'm not flashy, I'm not loud and you can see by my size I don't run around the stage. *laughs* 

From the OH: What made you decide to be a comedian?

Ishoos: *laughs* I was actually torn.  I've always wanted to be in the entertainment business so when I was about 22-23 years old, I wanted to be a rapper. Yeah and I can't wrap fish in a newspaper so yeah that didn't last very long.  I became homeless so when I was sleeping in my car I decided to start writing.  This was before I even thought about getting on a stage and doing comedy. I realized that some of the things that I was writing, I was still able to keep other people entertained and laughing and they didn't even realize that you know.. I was sleeping in a car. I thought, well hey I could do this for real. I gave it a shot and it's working out.

From the OH: You mentioned that you faced some hardships when you became homeless in 2004 and that pretty much catapulted you into comedy. Tell us a little about your situation and why was that motivation for you?

Ishoos: I try not to pull many punches, I just tell the truth. I was 25 at the time taking care of my grandmother.  She had Alzheimers and became too much so my family took her out of the house that we were staying in.  They told me that they were taking care of the mortgage on the house and I was responsible for paying the gas, lights, electricity and the phone bill.  Well, 5 months in there's a knock at the door. *laughs* It's the Sheriff and the guy from the land place that says that the house hadn't been paid for in 6 or 7 months. So they gave me 2 days to get out, that was Tuesday. They gave me til Thursday to move out so I had a falling out with my family at this point because its like, you gotta be kidding me? So as opposed to me asking anybody in my family for help I slept in my car at an abandoned gas station. I did that for almost 6-7 months. I would sell my clothing and belongings, TVs and stuff. I would sell these things day by day just to eat.  I wanted to go get a job and the first time I ever went to fill out a job application, it said "Name" the very next line it says "Address".  Well, I couldn't tell these people at the factory that my address is Pump 7 at the old BP station on the other side of town.  *laughs* and that's when it dawned on me like damn, I'm really homeless so I went back to selling my things.  I talk about this in my comedy too, I always credit myself for inventing the "sink bath" because being homeless I had to go into our local K-mart everyday because you gotta wash your ass.  I would go into K-mart everyday and I would steal a wash rag and a bar of soap then I'd go to the sink, wash my ass and change my clothes.  It's like a shower *laughs* but it's a homeless shower.  I did that everyday, it was so bad that it got to the point where one of the people that worked in K-mart would basically have a rag and soap waiting for me.  That's basically how I wound up being homeless, family.

From the OH: Who are some comedians that you were or are influenced by? Actors?

Ishoos: My favorite comedian of all time is Redd Foxx.  I just think Redd Foxx is unmatched as far as his intelligence, wit and timing.  I think he's the greatest comedian of all time and he's probably the most overlooked as well.  He did comedy in an era where we weren't allowed to do comedy.  We weren't allowed to be on TV and on the radio. He did comedy in an era where it was totally different so I give him credit and props for being the greatest ever.  When it comes to acting, it's so many.  I think Denzel is my favorite actor.  It's really hard to match the range that he has. Another actor who has range that's ridiculous is Jamie Foxx and Robin Williams.  Those guys have range thats like, unfathomable.  You can't even process how they can go from playing this character and then turn around and play a character that's nothing like the one that you've just seen them play.  So I like guys who are very, very diverse.  I credit my grandfather a lot, he knew how to say things that were inappropriate but made people laugh so that's where a lot of my skill set comes from.  When I was younger, I used to always tell him, "You wasted 30 years of your life in a factory raising kids cause if I was this talented and could make people laugh there is no way that I'd go work in a factory, are you crazy?" You know, different time different era.  Hell, he even raised me.

From the OH: What's the worse response you may have received from a joke? What happened?

Ishoos: The worst response that I've ever received from a joke was complete silence followed by "Who the F are you and why are you here?"  *laughs* What did I do? Well, since I had been contracted for 20 minutes and that was about 4 minutes into the show I performed for another 16 1/2 minutes and got off stage.  You work through those instances, you work through those situations the best you can because I've come to discover unfortunately everybody that shows up at a comedy show is not there to laugh.  I know that sounds crazy but there's a lot of people that show up because their cousin needed to get them out of the house, their wife is making them go to do something different so not every time you perform people are there to see you just to laugh. Also everybody does not have the same sense of humor so what you and I may laugh at, he may get pissed off about it.  In those situations, it's only happened once or twice in my career so far and I'm sure it's gonna happen again.  You just take it and go with it and hope that the person who doesn't think you're funny doesn't interrupt the show to the point where everybody else isn't having a good time.  

From the OH: Looking at your bio and IMDB, you've also done some acting. What has been the most interesting role you've had thus far and why?

Ishoos: *laughs* The most interesting role that I've actually done has been, I played 2 seasons of a detective series on Youtube.  The most interesting character I've played was a character called Jeffrey Banks.  The character dies half way through Season 2 but he comes back as a ghost.  He's like the angel on the main character's shoulder trying to stop her from being violent and a killer.  So being in makeup as far as blood and gore, thats the most interesting character I've ever played because I've never done anything like that.  It was odd to me that my character wasn't alive but yet he's still impactful in the series. 

From the OH: What's one of the goals you hope to accomplish with your career?

Ishoos: *laughs* The whole reason behind all of the comedy, movies and all of this stuff is.. I want to own a movie theater and leave something for my children.  When I say movie theater I'm talking about a chain of movie theaters that plays movies that perhaps wouldn't be seen at Cinemark or Regal.  I want to have something worldwide for the ones who don't get to see or don't get to have their films seen in 35,000 screens all over America because the budget wasn't big enough.  That's one of my primary goals and I want to be considered one of the best to ever do it.  Nobody cares about who's the 10th best whatever.  It's either you're the best or you're the other guys and I want to continue to take strides to be the best that I can be.  Public opinion is cool but it's just that because the minute somebody else popular comes along, the guy who has been doing it at the highest level the longest he gets pushed to the side because everything that's fresh is always better than what's been going on. Of course that isn't always true but that's just how society sees it.

From the OH: What are you currently working on right now?

Ishoos:  October 21st I'll be in Cleveland/ Maple Heights but I'll be with Cool TLC, Joey Zsa Zsa and Jyst Misty.   The movie I'm in called Holy Hustle premiered in Toledo and that comes out on Redbox in November.  I'm also working on another film that I wrote called Pound for Pound, it's a movie about a boxer who winds up pissing his career away by doing drugs, women and stuff.  It's a very interesting movie, I wrote it a couple of years ago and finally got a director who was interested in the film.  I'm not the star of the film and as you can see I'm in no shape to box *laughs* I'm shaped like a box of cereal but I'll play one of the main characters in that movie and we're hoping to get that filmed in November and December and have it out by Summer 2018. I have my website 3/4 built and haven't launched it yet but I have a hashtag that I'm working on putting on a t-shirt.  The hashtag is #ThumpsNewport.  Like people always say #SipsTea well black people we don't sip tea, we thump Newports  *laughs* When we do something that's petty or some nonsense, we don't sip tea.  No, we thump Newport so that's my hashtag.

Social Media Networks:
Twitter: @Comedianishoos
IG: @Comedianishoos