As the saying goes, comedy is tragedy plus time. It’s fair to say SNL comic Chris Redd has had a lot of time on his hands and is evidently turning tragedy into triumphant humour. His latest iteration of adversity is on display in his show Bust Down. The dark comedy, co-created and co-starring Langston Kerman, Sam Jay, Jak Knight, and Redd, follows the day-to-day lives of the cast working dead-end casino jobs in Middle America. The show Redd dubs “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with more Black people” airs on Showcase and STACKTV Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.

Redd is on an ongoing journey of self-discovery, one that he strongly attributes to therapy. “I’ve always been pretty upfront and outspoken but therapy gives you the reasons why and clarity on shit,” he told Complex Canada. Life’s hard-hitting questions are laid bare in Bust Down, similar to his comedy tour, “Why Am I Like This?” (to shortly be adapted into an HBO MAX special)—framed as an internal debate, yet a question we’ve all reluctantly asked ourselves in one way or another. Redd is doing the work and feeding us his unfinished findings in humorous anecdotes.

Ahead of his Canadian stand-up shows, we caught up with Redd to discuss his beef with Edmonton, how therapy enhances his comedic truths, and how he hopes Canada will receive Bust Down.

Large play button icon

Hey Chris! How’s it going? Is this your first time in Toronto? How’s the home of the Toronto Raptors treating you?
I’m good, man. I’m chillin’. This is like my 10th or something like that. I haven’t seen one Raptor [game] yet, but I love the city. You guys love comedy. I would really like to see a Raptors game, but I always just do comedy and drink—that’s what I do when I come here. I’m just glad they let me in here, man. Y’all kept us out for a long time.

You’re headlining multiple shows in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal this summer. Have you visited anywhere else in Canada before?
I was in Edmonton—do not like it, sorry y’all. Edmonton was weird but that was the first time I saw an otter in a mall. They have a big, huge mall out there, and there was this old otter just sitting there smoking a cigarette near H&M. He was definitely not smoking, I just have a cartoonish mind. He was definitely old, sitting there, and I was like, “This is no place for an otter, fam.” Edmonton was just a weird vibe out of all the places I’ve been in Canada. It had more of a conservative vibe. It had Texas vibes to it—the parts of Texas that aren’t fun.

“Edmonton was just a weird vibe out of all the places I’ve been in Canada. It had more of a conservative vibe. It had Texas vibes to it—the parts of Texas that aren’t fun.”

You’ve remained a cast member of a world-renowned sketch comedy stage for over half a decade. What is your biggest takeaway from working on Saturday Night Live thus far?
It’s been cool, man. It’s cool to have a job every day where you aren’t thinking you’re about to get fired. I’ve never worked a job longer than this. I feel comfortable, and I’m having a lot of fun. I’m really enjoying myself. There are so many takeaways, but I don’t know. Besides the fact that I get to do impressions and I get the hype—I didn’t like doing impressions before, but now I work at a place where impressions are sort of the thing. It’s fun to figure out what I can do. I guess the biggest takeaway is that I can do more than I thought. I’m constantly learning things that I’m good at, whether it’s at that job or failing and going somewhere else and doing it better.

What’s your favourite impression that you’ve done so far?
I mean, I like ‘em all because I only do five. My favourite is between Eric Adams and Stephen A. Smith. I love the Stephen A.—that’s my shit.

Speaking of SNL, you won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music for your SNL song “Come Back Barack,” and you break into song on Bust Down. Is songwriting something you’d take on full-time or is music just another platform you use to express your comedy?
I was a rapper and did music before comedy. That was my first dream. So I’m really just trying to shoehorn my old dreams into my current ones, you know what I’m sayin’? I’m a musical dude, I’ve always made music, and will make music forever. The difference now is I make music for me and not to get on. I’ll probably drop something whenever I feel like dropping something. I won’t expect to move units or no shit like that but I think it’s a good outlet to nurture. Comedy and music is my shit.

Chris Redd on new show 'Bust Down'
Image via Publicist

In Bust Down you tackle serious issues like sexual assault and domestic violence through a comedic lens. Writing a show in our current “woke” social climate, would you say this is a conscious choice or just the way you see the world as a comic?
Yeah, I mean I think we deserve and need a hard comedy. I think people we are talking about like Middle America, people that work every day and deal with these issues a lot of the time, the only way they get through it is to laugh. We wanted to capture characters who are going through shit that don’t have all the answers. They’re not “good people,” they try to tackle a thing—it either works or it don’t, and the next day happens and they move on, but they still got each other. That’s the vibe we wanted. We all talk about tough topics in a funny way, that’s how we cope and deal with things. So, it was only right we wrote a show like that. We’re all surprised we got away with a lot of that shit. I’m just happy. It was dope. I think we need more of that—it’s also a slice of life. It’s a silly-ass, goofy comedy. As Black people, we deserve to be goofy as fuck about things and then just move on real quick and get our Always Sunny on. I’m very proud of it. But I also understand if you don’t like it—the losers out there.

“I started therapy in the pandemic, so between those two years I was like, ‘Damn, my special should be different.’

How do you think Canada will receive Bust Down?
I think y’all gon’ like it, man. I think that some people aren’t going to like it. But the people who like comedy, like hard comedies and like something refreshing and different, are going to like it. If you like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and you wished there were more Black people in it, you’re going to like it. If hearing a touchy topic without really diving into how we finesse the jokes is your thing, your patience levels might thin and you’re gon’ to hate it. It’s like people who read a headline and are like “argh” without even reading the article and shit, that’s how I see people who might not like the show. But I’m biased because I’m in it. I hope y’all niggas like it but if not, I’m up here. I can’t even hear y’all. I’m just kidding, please like it.

Chris Redd on new show 'Bust Down'
Image via Publicist

You recently sat down with Charlemagne Tha God in a Hollywood Reporter “Emerging Hollywood” interview and talked about your journey through therapy. Has your relationship with comedy changed since making peace with new parts of yourself?
I’m way more vulnerable about my flaws, faults, and how I saw things growing up. It’s made me a better comic because I understand myself better. I’ve always been pretty upfront and outspoken but therapy gives you the reasons why and clarity on shit. To the point where I had to rewrite half my special. I started therapy in the pandemic, so between those two years I was like, “Damn, my special should be different.”

To end this interview, and at the risk of sounding like your therapist, I wanted to ask if you’ve finally figured out why you are like this?
Nope. Ugh. [Laughs.] I’ve figured out some reasons why I’m like this. I couldn’t tell it all in an hour and the point of the show is not to have an answer by the end of it but it’s to talk about the journey of it and show y’all the journey. I don’t have a funny way of explaining my show yet, so it sounds like a TED Talk but it is funny. I talk about a lot of topics that hint at why I’m like this but I’m not dead yet, so you know we grow every day and I don’t think I’ll ever really know the full answer and that’s the joy of it.