Tyler “Madea” Perry

Actor, filmmaker, comedian Tyler Perry will turn 50 next fall.

Meanwhile, Madea — the wildly popular character he created as part comic character, part social commentary — is 68 and holding, as Perry puts it.

In 2006 we talked about the origins of Madea, what Tyler Perry had in mind for her, and how he keeps her separate from him.

Tyler Perry has created an alter ego that has touched something in millions of families. In the seven Madea movies — the eighth is coming out in 2019 — Perry has made a lasting, if occasionally politically-incorrect, impact on the American culture.

I think that’s because this character .. was a staple in the African-American household a few years ago, and now she’s no longer around, because grandmothers are much younger and working harder and raising another generation of children.”

“You are making a social point through your comedy, aren’t you?” I asked.

“Yeah. yeah, totally, totally. “

“And I gather this was purposeful, “I continued. “She wasn’t just a funny character you decided would be funny, and then you added some social commentary to it. This was, I gather, based very much on your own experiences growing up.”

“Yeah, from day one she’s been there for me. She’s modeled after my mother and my aunt, which are the NC-17 version of this character . But the great thing about it is, there’s always a lot of love and wisdom in what they were saying, even though the way they chose to say it was pretty awkward and sometimes even hilarious.”

I said, “That is what is so funny about it, is that you’re not just .. she’s not just saying things for effect. There is love, and there is respect at the core of this.”

“Yeah, totally, totally.:”

“And discipline!”

“She believed in discipline!”

I then said to Perry, “You are a very careful craftsman with your words, and your character. You put an awful lot of work into creating this. She’s not just a cranky old lady. I mean, that’s kind of a stereotype in comedy, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,. it can be a stereotype,” he said. “But she’s actually very happy, but she takes no prisoners when something’s wrong.”

“Like road rage or rap music .. wait a minute, does rap music cause road rage?”

“Yeah. according to Madea, of course, it’s one and the same. All the accidents caused by road rage are somebody’s listening to rap music, every time.”

“You gotta admit sometimes she’s got a point, doesn’t she?”

“Yeah, she has her own way of saying things .. you gotta love this woman just for tellin’ it the way that she sees it, the world through her eyes.

So, I wondered, does Madea say a lot of things Tyler Perry could not get away with?

“Absolutely! Sometimes I’m shocked at the things that come out of her mouth, and that she gets away with. so yeah, absolutely.”

“I gather that at least some of these things are things you’re dying to say, but you can’t.”

“Could not say even if I wanted to, “Perry said, “but the costume and the character and the wig ,it’s a whole different thing.”

Tyler Perry knows the hazard of being too closely identified with a very popular character, He told me in 2006 that he’s tried to be very careful to make sure America knows Madea is not who he is, that they are two very separate people.

You ever get tired of her?”

“Actually, playing the character, yes, I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve become pretty exhausted with it. But as long as audiences want to see it, I’ll continue to do it.”

“I would guess the makeup and the prosthetics alone must be …

“That’s what the real pain is, makeup, and the fat suit, just being in the fat suit for a couple of hours every day.”

Tyler Perry’s life is a true American success story

“It’s truly that, yeah, and I’m truly grateful to God for every moment of it. It’s something that I’ve truly been celebrating lately ,and learning how to come into the moment and appreciate it.”

“How do you make sure you don’t forget where you came from?>”

“That’s really, really not hard to do when you’ve been through as many things as I have because you appreciate everything else .. you have such a level of higher esteem for everything else that .. if I didn’t have the low, I wouldn’t understand how great the highs are.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.