By Miraclejoy Curtis
As I read through my next interview assignment, I screeched with excitement. “The Quincy Jones? The world renowned musician, humanitarian and producer? No way! I get to meet him. Wait, I didn’t know he attended CWU! We are going to be best friends!”
“Well, not that Quincy Jones,” my supervisor said. “However, he is just as great! Why don’t you do a bit of research; you’ll see what I mean.”
With curiosity, I immediately began to discover who this ‘Quincy Jones’ was all about: A former Central Washington University student with an undeniable stand-up comedy talent. But it didn’t end there. Quincy is fighting cancer – Mesothelioma, a cancer cause by asbestos. After being diagnosed and doctors telling Jones that he only had a year to live, Quincy wanted nothing more but to pursue his dreams of comedy.
Family and friends recognized Quincy’s potential and supported him by creating a Kickstarter account which exceeded the five-thousand-dollar goal. Soon after, “The Ellen Show” executive producers reached out to Quincy to share his story, Ellen was so inspired that she called for HBO or Netflix to help Quincy Jones achieve his own special. A week later, Jones was invited back to the show and Ellen announced the best news he had received in a very long time: “HBO is going to air your special.”
This news changed his life forever. Since then, Jones wrote his first stand-up comedy special, ‘Burning the Light’ on HBO (for anyone in need of a good cry). Also, Jones has been on many stages in Los Angeles, where he resides, and has made an appearance on the Conan show. Today, he is a traveling stand-up comic working on his latest material for his new podcast and writing his own news show.
Coming up on Feb. 24, Jones will be returning to his old stomping grounds: Ellensburg, Washington, where he will be celebrated by Central Washington University’s alumni, students, faculty and staff. We are anticipating his stand up performance will be filled with witty humor and a warm smile. Get ready for some open mic karaoke starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Student Union and Recreation Center Theatre, followed by an evening of knee slapping jokes with Quincy. The show is free and open to the public.
I am pleased to have had the opportunity to interview the inspiring Quincy Jones. Check out how it went as we shared laughs.
Q: Where are you from?
A: Seattle, Washington.
Q: You went to Central, how’d you like it?
A: Yes…I got what I needed out of it. Central Washington is an amazing college and a great community that supports its students, and I was honored to be a part of it.
Q: Are you excited to come back to little ole Ellensburg?
A: Am I ever. There’s always that nervousness that there are butts in the seats. I hope people come out and see what I am up to now. Feels good to be coming home.
Q: As far as being a comedian, when did you know you were funny?
A: I’ve always known I was funny. I use my humor to diffuse tense situations. I always enjoy making folks laugh. When I first got on stage I was 21. Then I got back on when I was 25 and haven’t stopped since.
Q: I understand that you were diagnosed with Mesothelioma. How did that influence your perspective on comedy, how did that change your perspective on life?
A: When your mortality comes in perspective and you think about what is going on in your life you decide what is going to be best. For me, I didn’t have a girlfriend, kids or a pet. I just focused on what I’d been doing which is my craft… Which is comedy. I had some friends that made a Kickstarter, which went viral. Then, my cousin sent a letter into Ellen and I got an interview with Ellen producers and the rest is history!
Q: Before appearing on the Ellen and Conan show what was your stand-up career like?”
A: “I did one thousand sets in 2013, which was me deciding to get on stage three times a night… and I feel like that experience prepared me for when luck hits. If I hadn’t been through everything that I’ve been through, who knows if I would’ve been ready for Ellen. There are so many factors that make me realize how fortunate I am.
Q: What keeps you motivated?
A: My mom had cancer, I watched her and drew from her strength. While attending Central, I commuted every weekend to see her and she was the one who paved [the way] for me to be strong. I had a support system but I really drew from my mom.
Q: I enjoyed your HBO special! Why the title, ‘Burning the Light’?
A: ’Burning the Light’ means going longer than your supposed to go. And that’s what I am doing.
Q: Who are your comedic influences?
A: There are so many people I draw inspiration from. Rory Scovel, he is the first guy I saw on stage having fun, he’s amazing. He is always pushing the boundaries. Tony Baker, Bill Burr, Patrice O’Neal, Beth Stelling. Also, my friends and open mics. It’s an ongoing process.
Q: How do you hype yourself up for a show?
A: Listening to music! Drake – Underground Kings, JAY Z – Encore. I’m always excited to be on that stage, to tell jokes that I’ve been working hard on.
Q: Do you talk about cancer in your standup?
A: I only do so in my HBO Special. When I come to Central, I plan to entertain, educate and let people have fun.
Q: What is next in your career?
A: I am starting a Podcast called, ‘Random Thoughts.’ I am also working on a news show of my own. Just working on everything, really. Always staying busy.