10 questions with Bill Bellamy about MTV, Shaquille O’Neal and having fun on stage

Bill Bellamy has made a name for himself as an actor with “How to Be a Player,” and as a stand-up.

Bellamy, 48, who will perform this weekend at Goodnight’s, initially made a splash as an MTV VJ a quarter-century ago.

In a recent interview with The News & Observer, Bellamy reveals what it was like in the early days of MTV, what Madonna was like and whether he is funnier than his cousin, NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal.

Q: When will there be an MTV classic channel? MTV was so much fun to watch when you hosted.

A: Dude, I totally agree. I saw something on MTV that looked like that the other day but it was just a brief clip looking back. It’s a shame that MTV has become unrecognizable. They forgot that music is their baby.

Q: What are you most proud of from your MTV days?

A: Probably the “Rock the Vote” movement that helped Bill Clinton get elected as president.

Q: You had an interesting role. You were a personality but also a journalist.

A: Not enough people see it that way but it was so true. I was a news reporter in the world of entertainment that was moving as fast as a speeding bullet. I felt like I was the guy (the protagonist) in that movie “Almost Famous.” I’ll never forget being backstage with all of the stars from back then like Madonna, Kurt Cobain, Sugar Ray, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.

Q: Who was the coolest artist to hang out with?

A: Jay-Z was always very cool. At the time I was on MTV, he was in the shadow of Biggie Smalls. After Biggie passed away, Jay-Z became this blockbuster star, and he has never stopped. He’s a tastemaker, a mogul and a sports agent. He’s taken it to another level.

Q: You had a feud with fellow MTV VJ Dan Cortese. Was that all in fun?

A: Absolutely. Dan is such a good dude. He was so crazy. He was always talking trash. We’re still connected. We made up that whole rivalry thing. I was like, “You will be ying and I will be yang.”

Q: How much fun was life at the MTV Beach House?

A: It was as much fun as it looked. It was a big deal trying to keep the house secure since people tried to break into it. Girls were dancing all over the place. It was like Maxim Magazine on TV.

Q: Who’s funnier, you or Shaq?

A: I’ll let the people that come out to see me in Raleigh be the judge of that. Shaq thinks he’s funnier than me. He’s a big, loving guy. You see how massive he is but he’s just a big Teddy Bear. It’s amazing how successful we both became. We still do a lot of stuff together. Our kids play basketball together. My son is 12 and his younger son is 15. Our families have a blast hanging out.

Q: What was it like working with Dolph Lundgren on “Kindergarten Cop 2?”

A: Did you know that Dolph is incredibly smart? He went to MIT. He’s an engineer. I’ve never met anyone like him.

Q: Did you ever meet anyone like Madonna?

A: No. Madonna is fascinating. Back in the day on MTV, she was just so outside the box. She had that energy and she wasn’t taking “no” for an answer. Madonna was aggressive, sexy and irreverent. That’s a mighty combination and that’s a big reason she became so successful.

Q: What can we expect when you perform at Goodnights?

A: I’m going to do my thing. I have plenty to talk about. I have kids that are 15 and 12 and interesting stuff is going on in my life. But what you should expect is to have fun. That’s what it’s all about.


Who: Bill Bellamy

When: 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Jan. 18 and 19; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Jan. 20

Tickets: $30

Info: 919-828-5233 or goodnightscomedy.com

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