Mike Epps finds time for joking around

The in-demand actor is an Indianapolis native.

​​Mike Epps is much more than a stand-up comic moonlighting as an actor. Since earning his Screen Actors Guild card in 1997 for a bit part in the Vin Diesel drama “Strays,” he has established himself as a performer with serious range. That versatility is reflected in the diverse array of film work currently on his plate.

The actor-comedian, performing at the Funny Bone Comedy Club at The Greene in Beavercreek through Sunday, is currently on set filming the made-for-television biopic “Bessie,” about singer Bessie Smith. He has three feature films in post-production: the drama “Stealing Cars,” the crime flick “Term Life” and “Nina,” a big-screen biopic about singer Nina Simone.

Epps can currently be seen as Principal Rogers in “School Dance,” a comedy co-written and directed by Nick Cannon and co-starring George Lopez, Wilmer Valderrama and Katt Williams.

The early days

The Indianapolis native, who was born in 1970, was still a precocious teenager when he first started his comedy career in the late 1980s. He spent time honing his craft in Atlanta before relocating to New York in 1995 to appear in the live version of Def Comedy Jam. His energetic brand of comedy was a natural fit for the unfiltered format.

He later appeared on the groundbreaking HBO stand-up program of the same name. Epps was also a part of the hugely successful Def Comedy Jam tour and a decade later he was popular enough as stand-up to sign on as host of the television show.

Movie credits

Epps’ reputation as an actor was solidified with his next project, a co-starring role as Day-Day Jones opposite rapper-actor Ice Cube in the “Friday” sequels “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next.” Epps has signed on to reprise his role as Day-Day in “Last Friday,” which is scheduled to begin production in early 2015.

One of Epps’ biggest movie roles was Ed Norton opposite Cedric the Entertainer’s Ralph Kramden, in the 2005 update of the classic television series “The Honeymooners.” He also had signature turns as Black Doug in parts one and two of another comedy franchise, “The Hangover” trilogy.

Expanding the brand

The brand of versatility doesn’t go unnoticed. In July 2010, Epps was named entertainer of the year at the annual Indiana Black Expo in Indianapolis, where he also received a key to the city. Last month, he continued to stretch his boundaries and released his first rap single, “That’s What She Said” featuring T-Pain.