Atlanta native Finesse Mitchell epitomizes the triple threat. He is an actor, author and comedian.
He did his first open mic at 27, which is a little later then most comedians start, but he tried his hand at being a rapper and manager first.
“I wanted to be a rapper, but I found out my rhymes were whack,” Mitchell said in a recent interview. “But while managing a singing group, sometimes I would get on stage in between sets and make the crowd laugh.”
The former “Saturday Night Live” star, who will be at the Helium Comedy Club on Friday and Saturday, first took the stage at the Miami Improv, where he talked about what most first-time male comedians talk about and received a standing ovation. But he wasn’t hooked until the next time when the only response was silence.
“I didn’t know that you perform the same routine over and over again. So the next time I got on stage I just started talking about my day and heard crickets. That’s when I knew it was for me,” he said.
Since then, he has more than made up for his late start, and his career trajectory has only been on the rise. In 2003 he joined “Saturday Night Live” as a feature player and was promoted to cast member in 2005. Ironically, after his promotion, he saw less screen time. Some of his characters include O.J. Simpson, 50 Cent and Andre 3000.
“Me, Kenan Thompson and J.B. Smoove all auditioned at the same time. I auditioned twice, once at the Laugh Factory and then at 30 Rock before I got the job,” he said. “Kenan and I got cast spots and J.B. Smoove [who just appeared at Helium], was offered a writing position.”
In 2006, Mitchell, Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz were dropped from the cast due to budget cuts. But Mitchell said he has nothing but fond memories from his days at “SNL.”
“I got to meet Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, you name them, I met them. And I got to work with Will Ferrell and a lot of other talented people,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell, whose influences include Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle, currently stars on Disney’s “A.N.T. Farm” and VH1’s “Single Ladies.” His second one-hour comedy special, “One-Man Monster,” will be released later this year.
His book, “Your Girlfriends Only Know So Much,” is an advice book for women, which sprang from his monthly column for Essence magazine.
“I was doing a little a writing for them [Essence] and then they asked me to do this advice column and then I was approached by a literary agent to do a book. It was kinda crazy,” Mitchell added with a laugh.
You can also add athlete to his resume. While at the University of Miami, he was a walk-on to the football team and part of the 1991 National Championship team that included Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, or Dwaynie, as Finesse calls him, and Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.
“If you ever saw the ‘30 for 30’ ESPN series about that team, everything was pretty much accurate. That team was out of control,” he said.
What: Finesse Mitchell with Mark Walton
When: 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi St.