Marcus D. Wiley is funny. It’s the kind of funny that makes you almost pee on yourself. It’s clean enough to be done in church and real enough to make you wonder if he’s been attending your church or talking to the people there. I met Marcus many moons ago when I was a volunteer on the Radio One One Love Cruise. He is a hilarious Christian comedian and one of the radio co-hosts of the highly successful “Yolanda Adams Morning Show”. While on the cruise, I sat down and had very candid conversation about the business and the struggles and joys that come along with being a Christian comedian. I was surprised to learn that he is also a professor of public speaking at his alma mater Texas A&M. Marcus has stuck with comedy and education and it has paid off. According to him, one of his proudest accomplishments is to be able to provide financially for his grandparents and parents along with his own lovely wife and son. While in Memphis for a show, I got to sit down for another candid conversation about where his life has taken him and his new book “Hustle & Faith”.
Jae: How did you start doing comedy?
Marcus: I got into comedy because a lady who thought I was a comedian offered me $500 to host a comedy show at her coffee shop. She saw me hosting something at my church and thought I was a comedian. I wasn’t. I did it and and she was like WOW the people really enjoyed you and I started doing it once a month. So it was the money that got me started. LOL
Jae: How long ago was that?
Marcus: That was September 20th 2002.
Jae: So, you came into the business working?
Marcus: I came in working…getting paid!
Jae: How did you end up doing the “Yolanda Adams Morning Show”?
Marcus: I was hosting a program where they were honoring Yolanda and I met her that night. Shortly after that, she ended up getting a morning show in Houston. Another comedian was supposed to be co-hosting it but his contract didn’t work out. I like to say God blocked it. Later, Yolanda recommended that the producers of the show call me. After three straight Fridays of auditions, I got the gig and a week later the show was syndicated.
Jae: That’s a blessing. How long ago was that?
Marcus: That was in 2003.
Jae: How has the experience been for you on the morning show?
Marcus: It’s been a good experience. When I first got on the show I was like I’ve come up. I have arrived. But since I’ve been on the show, I’ve realized that the show isn’t about me. It’s about the listeners. I get so many emails, Facebook messages, Tweets and other social media type of things from people saying that I helped make their day. I helped them get through a rough day at work or they come from a hellish type household and I gave them a laugh. I now think about those people. How can I help them? I guess that’s what they call ministry.
Jae: Yes it is. What do you think is the best thing about what you do?
Marcus: Being able to touch people. You can’t beat that. I have people tell me they weren’t going to church but then I made them want to get back in church. Or I made being a Christian cool. I’m just hoping that’s gone help me get into heaven. I hope the Lord looks at that and says, ‘You know I wasn’t gone let you in but you helped a lot of folk get comfortable being a Christian.’
Jae: You are so silly. There’s another role you play that you don’t find a lot among comedians doing, and that is the role of a college professor. How did that come about?
Marcus: The same year I started doing comedy I needed a job. I went up to my alma mater Texas A&M and asked the dean if he had any positions open. He said, ‘I might have an adjunct professor position coming open teaching two courses.’ Then, I went and harassed him, if I can say this, the hell out of him. Finally, he said, ‘Man, I got a class for you. It’s on a Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10:50.’ Then he said, ‘I found you another class. It’s on a Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 8 a.m.’ I took the classes and I would come in those classes and give them the business. The dean was like we haven’t gotten anything but good reports from you so we’re going to give you two more classes and make you full time. I always wanted to be a professor. One of the professors I had in college, he made it look good. He had the answer for everybody. All the girls wanted to be with him and all the dudes wanted to be like him. So, it’s been good.
Jae: So, as a college professor have you achieved that goal of being like him?
Marcus: No doubt. I have passed him. Naw, just kidding. It’s different. He was finished when he was teaching us. He had a been there done that attitude. My attitude is I haven’t done that. I’m still on the way there and I’m taking my students with me. I incorporate them into my show. I have them work for me and that way they actually get to see their work live. My students have traveled with me to Atlanta and all over the place. I fly them all over the place and I treat them first class. I show them what the business looks like. I give them that experience. I took my students on this journey with me. They’ve seen me start from the bottom and now I’m here.
Jae: You didn’t just take the role of being a college professor. You also took on the role of being a mentor.
Marcus: Mentor. College professor. I believe in our HBCUs. You have to be all things to all men like the Bible says. These kids are so talented. They just need some structure and some direction, some guidance. My goal is to help show them how to take their good ideas and turn them into a business. Everybody is a brand now. When I was in school you worked for a brand. You worked for Nike. You worked for McDonalds. Now with social media, everybody is a brand. I am letting the students know that you are a business and all the good ideas you have you can do it now. You don’t have to wait until you graduate. You can do it now. That’s what we focus on.
Marcus: It is the answer to the question, ‘How did you get here?’ It’s because of my hustle. It’s because of my faith. Often you hear in church, just have faith. The good book, the Bible, says faith without works is dead. Your faith needs employment. Your faith needs a job. You have to give the Lord something work with. It’s all through the Bible where the folks He blessed they were hustling. We look at hustle as a bad word because we attach it to our cousin Day Day dem cuz they hustling. That just means to work rapidly. To work energetically. To press towards a goal. God gave us all some talent and you need to get out there and start hustling your talent. Whatever it is you are good at you need to be hustling it. The Bible tells the story of the men who had the talents. The one with five hustles got ten talents. The one with two hustles got four. The one with one hustle probably was a good Christian. They had faith but no hustle. The Bible says they took his talent and gave to the man with ten. So, you have to be out there hustling your talent and if you’re not then you are wicked and you are lazy. Although you believe, although you have talent. Although you fast from time to time, you have to put in the work. So many of us mess up because we literally wait on the Lord. In my book, I talk about from the time when I was in the fifth grade when I realized that I wanted to be an entertainer up until the time I got on the “Yolanda Adams Show”. The Lord has been ordering my steps. The book is a pretty good read and hopefully inspiring.
You can learn more about Marcus D. Wiley and his new book “Hustle and Faith” at http://www.marcusdwiley.com