One of the most original and groundbreaking comedians to grace the stage and screen is being honored in a documentary. I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac, airing February 19 at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central, will follow his humble beginnings through his rise to fame, and ultimately until his death in 2008 at a mere 50 years old.
The documentary, narrated by Bernie himself, kicks off with footage from the mega-successful Kings of Comedy, then goes back to very begining of his career. The documentary takes viewers throuugh his early club performances, rehearsals from his HBO series “Midnight Mac.” You’ll also get to see the Miller Lite Comedy Festival, where the comic really broke out into the mainstream.
Wanting to shed a light on what Bernie brought to the world of comedy, director/producer Robert Small reached out to Mac’s widow, Rhonda McCullough, with the idea for the documentary. “I don’t think everybody will remember him the way they should unless I put something together cohesive because a lot of people don’t even know he passed," he said he explained to Rhonda. "His sitcom is still on in so many markets. People that don’t follow the entertainment industry don’t really think about it too much and they think he just faded away.”
The tribute includes never-before-seen performances as well as interviews from celebs like actors Samuel L. Jackson, Zoe Saldana, Andy Garcia, Angela Bassett and Ocean’s 11 director Steve Soderbergh. Fellow comedian Chris Rock had a lot to say about his friend, and according to Robert, Chris still has Bernie’s number saved in his phone because he can’t bring himself to erase it. Bernie’s daughter, Je’Neice, conducted some of the interviews. “She knew some of these people when she was 5, 10 years old and her dad was hanging out with Bill Bellamy and Sam Jackson. And she was able to talk from a different perspective,” said Robert.
Bernie’s widow, Rhonda McCullough, executive produced the documentary and offered up tons of little known facts. “He loved to pull pranks on people. Matter of fact, him and George Clooney used to challenge each other on who could do the best prank,” Robert recalled.
“He’d be in a film where he’d have a black eye and bloody nose. He’d leave the make-up on and have two people carry him into the house. She’d freak out, call the police," Robert continued. "And he would start pulling off the prosthetics. He had a thing where he would go in the bathroom and throw firecrackers and she’d come in and he’d by laying on the floor.”
Bernie loved Chicago, despite the fact it was riddled with the crime and violence that made these pranks believable.
Although Robert never met the comedian, he’s a huge fan and wants everyone to share in this amazing story, stating, “He was a much more sophisticated comedian and had a real test of will. For somebody to have it so rough, working until he’s almost 30 years old before he got his opportunity, and not giving up, that’s really the American dream story.”
Robert went on to say, “I really think if I hung out with him, we’d be best friends. Although it seems everyone who hung out with him felt that way. Zoe Saldana and all these people, they all feel that way.” The director also said if he had the chance to say anything to the comedian, he would tell him, “Bernie, you showed me it could be done. And I hope I can do it too.”
Comedian Bernie Mac dies