Rewatching Lavell Crawford on “Breaking Bad” wasn’t part of my plan before interviewing him Wednesday afternoon, but it did help me recall how great Crawford and fellow stand-up comedian Bill Burr are on the critically-acclaimed AMC series.
Crawford, who is headlining Goodnights Comedy Club in Raleigh this week, might be best known for playing Saul Goodman’s ethically ambiguous bodyguard, Huell Babineaux, in the final two seasons of “Breaking Bad,” which I took for a second spin beginning a month or so ago. I remembered Crawford and Burr having roles on the show, but it wasn’t until they popped up on the screen the last couple of weeks that I appreciated how memorable their scenes truly are.
Long before his “Breaking Bad” days and before his recent 120-pound weight loss, Crawford built a standout comedy career in between TV, movie and voice work. I spoke with the St. Louis native while he was in Houston and I smiled off and on the rest of the day thinking about all the funny things Crawford said.
The interview lasted 10 minutes and you can read it in five. By comparison, Crawford will be on stage at Goodnights for at least two hours each night Thursday through Saturday. That’s a lot of quality jokes, folks.2
Enjoy the interview, follow Crawford on Twitter and don’t forget The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes at the end.
Tony Castleberry: You’re in Houston. What’s the scene like there?
Lavell Crawford: It’s fine. They’re back to business as usual (after Hurricane Harvey). … It seems like downtown everything is OK. Joel Osteen’s letting people back in church.
TC: [laughs] If he’s letting people back in church, I guess things are back to normal.
LC: Yeah, everything’s fine. Traffic is backed up and the community is a little rougher now, but everything is good, man. It’s not fantastic and a lot of people lost their homes, but one thing about Texas folks is, they’re strong people.
TC: Yeah, they tend to bounce back from stuff. Does your sense of humor change when you lose a bunch of weight like you did?
LC: It don’t change. You’re just on the other side of it, telling the ups and downs of it. Weight loss can be great, but if you’re not familiar with how you look, it can be like, “Man, I didn’t know my head was this big.” [interviewer laughs]
I can walk up a bunch of flights of steps now, doing things I didn’t use to do. When I was thinking about going to the grocery store (as a heavier man), I thought, well, if I don’t get to park close enough (to the store), I guess I ain’t getting nothing that day.
TC: [laughs] It was neat reading about how you did it for your son and your wife, which is great motivation. Did you find that that was the best motivation or was it a personal motivation to do it?
LC: It was mostly me. I love my son and everything, but he was gonna be OK either way. I think he liked fat dad better because (fat dad) brought home better snacks. [interviewer laughs]
I think it’s good for both of us, you know? You don’t want to admit it, but your health starts diminishing. I’m 48 now and blessed to be that old. After a while, your body is like, “Look, man, we’ve been fat a long time and I appreciate all the potato skins and all the double cheeseburgers, but it’s time to give each other a break.” You walk up a couple of steps and you can’t breathe. You tie your shoe and you’re mad because you’ve got another one. [interviewer laughs] There are so many things you’ve got to weigh, like taking things for granted when it comes to oxygen, breathing. Your body deserves something good and you’ve lived this long and you’re blessed to have a beautiful wife. It’s time to take some pressure off them literally and figuratively.
TC: I hear ya. For 20-some years I was a heavy drinker, Lavell. I had a problem. Quitting, honest to god, man, it was like night and day. I felt so much better pretty much immediately. I look back on it and think, yeah, I had some good times, but why did I do that to myself for that long, you know what I mean?
LC: Yeah, sure. You realize that you didn’t need that. People are gonna love you. People that didn’t like you fat probably aren’t gonna like you thin. That’s their issue. As long as you love yourself, that’s the main objective. That’s what you have to understand. Putting all that food in you all day because you’re depressed…I mean, how many chicken wings can you eat in one day?
TC: I’m rewatching “Breaking Bad” and I love all the scenes with you and Bill Burr, especially the one where you two lay down on that massive pile of money. Did you guys make people laugh on set?
LC: We were making people laugh, but we were more or less fans. When you’re on a show like this, it’s like being, I guess, on “The Godfather.” You don’t know how big it’s gonna be, but once you’re a part of something and find out how big it really is, you just watch it to keep looking at the magic.
Like, when we were laying on that money, I said, “This is gonna be crazy.” I’ve been a meme for everybody that makes it big. I’ve been that meme for a long time.
TC: It’s an iconic scene and I loved every scene with you and Bill. As a lifelong stand-up comedy fan, seeing two comedians I love in this dramatic show I enjoy was really the best of both worlds.
LC: It was cool. Bill opened up for me as a comic and went on to have success. We were friends in the comedy game and worked together several times. Bill was a megafan (of “Breaking Bad”) and that’s how we were watching the show.
Being on that with Bryan Cranston…I called him white Samuel Jackson because he’s in every damn thing. [interviewer laughs] He’s played everything from a vampire to Santa Claus. He’s a megastar for our time. Him going from “Malcolm in the Middle” to (playing) this guy who progresses into an evil villain like he did was incredible.
TC: My grandpa was from Sikeston, Mo., and I was raised on St. Louis Cardinals baseball. Have you ever thrown out a ceremonial first pitch at a game?
LC: Man, that’s on my bucket list. I’d cry like a baby if they ever let me do that. I would love to do that. You can ask my wife, anybody: I am a do-or-die Cardinals fan. One guy at my show recently said he was from St. Louis, but he had a White Sox hat on and I refused to take a picture with him. [Crawford, interviewer laugh] That’s my team. I love them to death. I met Lou Brock when I was a kid. I watched the World Series growing up when they had to play like 13 innings with Bruce Sutter, Joaquin Andujar, Bob Forsch. I love my Cardinals.
If they ever say, “Lavell, we want you to throw out the first ball,” I’m front and center. If my wife don’t wanna go, she can stay home.
TC: I’m shocked they haven’t asked you.
LC: I don’t know. Some things get missed. I haven’t been able to go to as many games as I’d like because I’m working and I don’t live there anymore, but hopefully someday they’ll ask me.
TC: I hope so. I’m setting the DVR if they do.
LC: I’m gonna practice my throws beforehand. I want to look good out there.
TC: Yeah, you’ve seen some of these bad celebrity first pitches. I know you saw 50 Cent’s. That was terrible.
LC: I gotta get some pitches in before I go out there. 50 Cent ain’t no baseball player. Hell, he could just blame on being shot nine times. “I was throwing with my shot arm.”
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes:
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) September 14, 2017