Cracking The Relationship Code with ‘Guy Code’s’ Damien Lemon
Not to brag or boast, but in case you haven’t noticed, there is a small trend developing here on this site when it comes to the comedians I interview. Not long after they allow me the opportunity to have a conversation with them for this site, they tend to blow up. Don’t believe me?
Behold, exhibit A: Kevin Hart for UIGM in 2010
And now, exhibit B: Hannibal Buress for UIGM in 2012
I have a feeling Damien Lemon is going to be next on the list, my exhibit C if you will. If you are a fan of MTV’s “Guy Code” you’re already hip to the way he can make something funny simply by the way he delivers his guy-isms.
But for those who haven’t seen him on the MTV series or haven’t witnessed him on stage, holding his own, you should check him out Saturday, at 12 AM. Damien will be the featured stand-up comedian on Comedy Central’s “The Half Hour.” Full disclosure: I’ve known Damien before he even started doing stand-up. He was working in marketing and events at VIBE when I was just starting myself, and off-top, he was not only one of the nicer people I met, he was also one of the funniest people. I don’t think there was one conversation I had with him that I didn’t laugh, and, as you can see in this clip, his funny isn’t an act. It’s a natural part of him. The same way he’s talking here is the same way he talks in casual conversation.
A few days before his Comedy Central debut, Damien was kind enough to give me some time so we could chop it up on a variety of topics. Schedules didn’t allow us to meet at our favorite spot for chicken in Harlem, so instead we talked on the phone about everything from how he’s handled his growing celebrity while being in a relationship to the tricky thing about giving advice to other guys. Here are the highlights of our conversation.
For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been with the same woman, and seeing you come up the way you have, from just doing the open mics to being on national TV, I’ve always wondered how that has affected your relationship, if at all.
Damien: Well, she has to make room for all my new girls, but…nah, I’m playing. I don’t know if my success has affected my relationship, but it’s weird. It’s always funny when I get recognized. She gets a kick out of it, because I’m Damien to her, so it’s weird in that sense. But I’ve always been very prideful, and I’m a Scorpio, so even before fame, I was very prideful.
So there hasn’t been any major adjustments in terms of how you to are with each other?
Damien:It hasn’t been anything that I can think of but there’s things like the time we spend together is quality time because I might be away for a week. I mean, we have to make sure we’re still communicating and talking and things of that nature, and I’m telling her what’s going on.
Okay, but these days, you’re on the road a lot, I’m sure you meet someone who’s throwing it at you. How do you handle that?
Damien: Here’s the thing, as you get older, you realize, that’s just the ego. It’s something I talk about on “The Half Hour.” That shit is just for the moment, it’ll make you feel good. It’s like, Oh, I can pull that. That’ll be good for the ego, that’ll be good to tell your boys, like, Look at this! But at the same time, that’s it. You don’t know anything about that girl. You have nothing invested in her. You want to gamble what you built for one night? For one little jump off?
That’s sage advice, which leads me to a question about “Guy Code.” It’s funny because even with my blog, I’ve always wanted it to be for the fellas, but fellas only admit they read it on the low, like it’s a dirty secret. I still think a lot of guys don’t want to hear another man’s advice on a lot of different things, but what have you learned as being portrayed as an expert on all guy-related matters?
Damien: I definitely learned dudes like to know other guys are in the struggle, and they’re not alone. But it also made me realize (and this is the cool thing about “Guy Code”) a lot of dudes will stay ignorant out of fear of being embarrassed.
What do you mean by that?
Damien:I had to put my own life in perspective. I have two older brothers, and one of them was always a ladies man, so sometimes I wanted to ask them something. But sometimes, he would take the moment to stunt on me a little bit. This is something my friends did too. Now they would give me the advice, but things like that make you not want to ask the person anything or at least ask them something serious.
Do you ever meet guys who blame you for something that happened because they took some advice on the show literally, tried to apply it to their life, and didn’t get the results they wanted
Damien:Young kids really want to believe it or they’ll ask a lot of questions but at some point, you have to make own your decisions. That’s one of the ultimate tenants of “Guy Code” is be responsible for the chances you take. Don’t blame the next man. You can ask someone for advice, but if you take that advice, whatever happens is on you. I’m just saying what I feel, and more often than not, what I think is funny. I mean, I’m honest, but if what I say doesn’t work for you, please don’t hold me accountable.
I also notice, unlike a lot of comedians, you don’t use your relationship as material. Why is that?
Damien:In comedy, they say a comedian has a lady for the stage and a lady in real life. Something between my lady and I could inspire a joke that would last a year or two or even longer than that. The issue has passed, but it was an inspired moment that resonates with people. Most people have had a relationship, or if they’re not in a relationship, they’re dating, dealing with somebody, kind of dealing with somebody, so it can relate. So on stage I don’t really talk much about my relationship. I talk about it, but in broad strokes. I embellish here and there; everything I say about my lady may not really be what’s going on with my lady.
Another thing I wonder is, how you make your woman still laugh in an authentic way, and not just when you’re practicing material. Is that hard?
Damien: Well, you kind of have to realize the show is over. She used to tell me that a lot in the beginning.
You were trying to make her laugh all the time?
Damien:I love to make her laugh, but it’s not an aim anymore. I realize that since I’ve been doing comedy for a while, I’m funny, but I’m also funny by default. I write an act and punch up the jokes so they perform funny, but I don’t go out there with intention of doing me. I go there to do my act. I think with my woman, it’s about being myself. Being in a relationship makes you have to be more in the moment. You have to be true to what you’re feeling, rather than how can you get a joke out of that.
Again, tune in to Damien’s debut on Comedy Central’s “The Half Hour,” Saturday, July 12 @ 12 AM (that’s basically Friday night, July 11, so don’t get confused). And, you should also see him do his thing live if you have a chance. All his tour dates can be found on his site, DamienLemonForBlackComedian.com.