The doctor and former baller talks his big move into the comedy circuit.
Since retiring from basketball, Shaquille O’Neal has kept extremely busy. He earned his doctorate in education from Barry University (he now prefers adults to call him Dr. O’Neal, and kids to call him Shaq). Now, his biggest business venture post-sports is a career in comedy.
O’Neal launched a new Internet channel,The Comedy Shaq Network, on October 1, which features collaborations on new online shows starring Kevin Hart, Chris Tucker, Eddie Griffin, Gloria Govan, Mike Epps, Mo’Nique, Katt Williams, D.L. Hughley and Steve Harvey.
“I just love laughter,” O’Neal says about his draw to comedy. “Back when I was in school, I was a class clown. And when Russell Simmons was doing Def Comedy Jam, I thought that was the best thing ever.” In 2011, the 40-year-old created the All Star Comedy Jam Tour, after having Comedy Jams during All-Star Weekends since 2008. The comedians on the current tour include Think Like a Man's Gary Owen, Capone and Finesse Mitchell.
“We just did it one time, I wanted to see what it would become and it just took off,” O’Neal says of the tour's inaugural year. “Kevin Hart was part of our All Star Comedy shows and has since become a big star. When I was living in Atlanta, I grew up with all the comedians out there — Kevin, Katt Williams and Cedric the Entertainer — who are hot now.”
Now in the industry of making people laugh, the seven foot entrepreneur recently packaged the tour into the DVD release Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam Live From Orlando, which features Lil Duvall and Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharoah.
“It was a great show, great atmosphere with some of the industry's funniest comedians,” O’Neal says of the collection. “It was just like putting together a basketball team.”
Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam Live From Orlando is available on DVD October 9.
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(Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images)