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Current Issue of Atlanta Christian Magazine



   Sinbad speaks out about comedy, foul language, reality shows - and Cosby

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Son of A Preacher Man

   One of the funniest P.K.’s around is Sinbad.

    The tall, imposing black comedian and comic actor, Sinbad (born David Adkins) began his career in 1983 traveling the USA with his act, what he has come to refer to as his "Poverty Tour."
    Sinbad remembers. "I prayed, please Lord, this is hard work so if I'm not funny, let me know right away."
    His big break came when he made seven appearances on “Star Search” in the mid-80’s. Back then, way before American Idol, he lost his final found of competition, but the exposure won him a trip to stardom.
     He eventually caught the eye of Bill Cosby, who had him warming up audiences before “The Cosby Show.” Cosby then cast him on the successful NBC sitcom "A Different World," where he spent four seasons (1987-91) as the kindly dorm director and community center manager.
    Sinbad racked up HBO specials, movie roles, guest spots on primetime sitcoms and sellout houses doing standup.
    His movie career peaked I the ‘90’s when he  played off co-star Phil Hartman in "Houseguest." Sinbad was again well-cast as a Secret Service agent who befriends the President's neglected son in "First Kid" and a postal worker who proved to be Arnold Schwarzenegger's rival in obtaining an in-demand toy in the Christmas-themed "Jingle All the Way" (both 1996).
   He’s done it, he says, by staying true to his wild and crazy personality and sporting his blonde hairdo. He jokes, “I was doing it before Sisqo.”
    While many comics are choosing to hinge their laughs on four-letter expletives and X-rated themes, Sinbad continues to hang his hilarious antics and punch lines on the lessons that life teaches.
    “You can keep it real,” he expresses, “without making it distasteful.”
    “My whole thing goes beyond comedy,” he says, confessing that his choice not to use profanity doesn’t make him a perfect human being, just one with a powerful testimony.
    “It has to do with the fact that my dad was a minister.”
    Sinbad actually did curse during one of his early performances, but decided it made him uncomfortable. “I wasn’t even that funny and people were laughing because I cursed,” he says. “After that experience in a Chicago club his father wanted to see him perform.
    “I’ll tell you how God works,” he says. “I look out and I see my dad sitting there with pride, in the front row, waiting to see me do my thing and I said ‘I can’t do that. I can’t hurt him like that.’ And so I went out there and was clean. I tore the house up. I was funnier than I had been when I did the curse words the days before and I said ‘this is the route I’ll go’”
   "I want people to bring the whole family to my show."
   Sinbad feels that God used his father to redirect his career. His act may always be clean, but don’t call him a “clean comic” because he doesn’t care much for the label. In fact, he doesn’t care for labels period. When he first hit Hollywood, agents continually tried to put him in a box so they could market him.
   “Hollywood has a certain picture of what a black man should be or what any comic should be and I don’t think I fit any of it. So I said, ‘man, forget trying to figure out what I am. Hey man, let’s just do it,’” he says.
   Carving out a niche in Hollywood is tough, he says, “but it’s no different than the struggle of life. As a Christian, everyday you have to ask yourself, ‘is this really what I want to do? Is this thing I’m about to do, is this representing my life?’”
    ”When you’re trying to be a Christian in Hollywood you’re really put into a hotbed. You’re put into a controversial and hypocritical situation, a thing that really caters to the most worldly side of us,” he explains. “The entertainment industry loves controversy. Let’s face it, the more heartache and damage you do to yourself, the more they embrace you out there. They say, ‘he’s wild, he’s different, he’s adventurous.’ And, really, you’re self-destructive. While they may applaud you when you get your life back together, they just like the changes you went through to get there.”
Sinbad has a TV show in the works, "Makes Me Wanna Holla."
Anybody that does a sitcom will tell you that they don't want to jinx it,” he says. “You never talk about it until you get it sold, but it's not gonna be a typical sitcom. It's not gonna be just the father, the children, and the three-camera shoot. It's going to be a little bit different. [I'm] trying to do a different kind of format.”
     No word yet on when or if it will air.
     ”That's it. We don't know yet, until it gets picked up and bought. You know, you like it, now you gotta find a couple of other people to like it.”
     He credits his moral stability to his Christian upbringing and to the fact that he was older when he reached Hollywood. “I didn’t come into the game at 21-years-old. I didn’t come out here at 19. I already had come from the struggle. I was a militant young brother, a product of the 60s and the 70s. So, I already knew what I stood for and I knew what I wouldn’t do,” he says.
     Sinbad’s standards have a lot to do with showing, not telling, his children (daughter Paige 18 and son Royce 15) how to live. He’s divorced with joint custody. And, though one can detect snippets of his failed relationship poured into his jokes, on a serious tip he says that the depths of divorce run deep.
      “It was hard for me, one of the most profound experiences you can have as far as reaching deep down to your soul,” he says.
     Lately, he’s been trying to break out of his “wholesome” image. “Not-that-there’s-anything-wrong-with-that,” he jokes. He feels his talents can go deeper. “I didn’t come out here just to do the Disney thing,” he stresses. “That’s just one side of me. I want to do James Bond and all that every-other-kind-of-stuff.”
     Breaking out of a mold others have him in can be frustrating, but he says that when his career isn’t going the way he wants it to, he knows that God is just preparing him for more success, and in the interim, he says, “God gives me patience.”
     “I know He’s grooming me for the next move and you’ve just gotta learn, the hardest part is going through the wait,” he says. Then in his usual profound way he jokes (but is serious) that if you don’t wait on God you could miss your blessing.
     “You see, God moves in a very slow way, God is not a quick mover. He doesn’t speed up for anybody. You be like, (Sinbad hurries his voice) ‘come on man, you know we gonna be late!’ God be like this, (Sinbad straps on a slow baritone voice) ‘I’ll catch up with y’all. Y’all go ahead.’ And then you realize, ‘Hey man, where’d He go?’ (And) you should have just waited for Him.”

 Movie Highlights

  1. Good Burger (1997) .... Mr. Wheat
  2. The Cherokee Kid (1996) (TV) .... The Cherokee Kid/Isaiah Turner
  3. Jingle All the Way (1996) .... Myron Larabee
  4. First Kid (1996) .... Sam Simms
  5. Houseguest (1995) .... Kevin Franklin
  6. Coneheads (1993) .... Otto
  7. Necessary Roughness (1991) .... Andre Krimm