Being known as an NPR correspondent is almost every journalist’s dream. But being a regular on one of the organization’s most popular shows is even better. Brian Babylon appears on the news-of-the-week based radio game show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me as one of the panelists answering questions about news events of the week. When he’s not on that stage, he’s on a different stage as a regular stand up. Not to mention he’s also a Dragon Ball Z fan – as evidenced by the naming of his latest album, Babylon Ball Z. I recently had an email interview with Babylon to talk about his latest effort.
First thing’s first: What is up with black men and anime like Dragon Ball Z? We’re just drawn to it for some reason. I can’t explain it. Also, what’s your favorite saga?
Brian Babylon: Well I don't know why black dudes like Dragon Ball Z. I remember when I would substitute teach the boys loved it and that's how I connected to them. For me favorite saga is [the Frieza one].
What kind of odd jobs did you have before standup became a paying gig?
Babylon: They weren't odd. I worked as a full time corporate dude from Untied Airlines to BET, and a multi media consultant.
You’re one of the most known Chicago based comedians. Had you ever tried doing standup in New York? Why is Chicago the better venue for you?
Babylon: I am from Chicago and for me when I started standup in Chicago it was in the renaissance era of stand up there and where many of the famous comics are from for example Hannibal Burress, TJ Miller, Kumail [Nanjiani], Lil Rel [Howery]and Deon Cole.
You have a commanding presence on stage, mostly because you’re a tall and confident. What was your path to finding your voice on stage?
Babylon: My path goes back to starting in an urban/black comedy club called "Jokes and Notes" where the audience demanded stage presence from you.
Why now for your debut album?
Babylon: Because I could not wait any longer, it was time.
This is a substantial album with 16 tracks. I guess you were more than ready to get these jokes out into the world. Was it hard to pick and choose what bits made the cut?
Babylon: No, not really. A lot of these jokes had been floating around for a while just want to make sure the flow was good.
Have you been able to gather a following of your standup thanks to your appearances on NPR programs?
Babylon: Sure, it opens up my fan base and public radio fans are some of the best and most dedicated.
I’ve been featured on the radio and television and sometimes found it tough to censor myself. It’s not that I wanted to curse up a storm but I definitely couldn’t tell the jokes I wanted to or say stupid things. Now that you’re a face (or voice) of NPR, do you find it tough to balance what you say on stage and behind the mic?
Babylon: No, no filter the key is I’m just not an asshole.
I know you’ve worked with Hannibal Buress and Amy Schumer. Have you ever wanted to write for another comic or TV show?
Babylon: Of course. That’s always a goal to diversify the portfolio and diversify the cash flow.
They don’t know me but tell Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis I said hi!
Babylon: I will for sure. I do the 20th Anniversary show is this month and we are really excited and make sure you look out for Bill Curtis's gourmet hot dogs, all prime cuts of meat. The best in the world!!!