Latest Yassir News
Aug 25, 2021
WireImage Yassir Lester is one of the most accomplished comedians, writers, and content creators in the entertainment industry. His comedic genius is behind some of the most innovative comedy on TV over the past decade. Born in Miami Florida but raised in Marietta, Georgia relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a career in comedy at 21 years of age. By 2016, Lester was simultaneously working as a writer on The Carmichael Show and Girls. He then went on to star Making History on Fox and in the series Champions on NBC Currently, Lester is a writer, executive producer, and actor on Showtime’s Black Monday and the voice of Yangzi on Fox’s animated series Duncanville. It was recently announced that Lester will serve as head writer for Marvel’s Armor Wars starring Don Cheadle. I caught up with Yassir and we spoke about his comedic influences, if he loves writing or stand-up comedy more, and if he’ll drop more episodes of his My Brother’s Sneaker Podcast. MORE FOR YOU Grove: When did you first realize that you were funny? Lester: As a child, my mom, my grandma, my aunts and uncles, everyone thought I was gonna be a news reporter because I never shut up. But in full disclosure, I hated school, If YouTube and the internet really were prevalent when I was coming up, I would have dropped out. So I was always just looking for things to do and was constantly goofing around with my friends. So I would say when I was like, 12, I knew I wanted to do something funny. The only thing I knew about was acting but the idea of being a stand-up comedian and writing, that didn't come to me until I was 13 or 14 and I saw Chris Rock on stage. To this day, I still think of him and Wanda Sykes as the influences that informed me about what I think is funny. Grove: What TV shows or movies shaped your comedy when you were young? Lester: I loved The Fresh Prince, Martin, and Living Single. Goofy, weird things shaped and formed me, like Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, Austin Powers, Scary Movie, Ace Ventura. I loved stuff that was weird and funny. Grove: I was looking at the chronology of your writing credits. You were writing for The Carmichael Show and Girls at the same time? Lester: So I was I was working on Girls first and then that we had a break between seasons. Around that time, I moved to New York to work on Girls. By the time I came back, Jerrod Carmichael was a star and we had been homeboys for years. I ran into him at the Comedy Store and were just talking and I was like, “What's up, man? How's the show going?” Blah, blah, blah. He's like, “We're just about to start season two.” The next day, I got a call to talk to the showrunner for Carmichael who was this phenomenal writer named Danielle Sanchez-Witzel. I just had a brief interview because I knew Jerrod already but Danielle didn't. So we talked and they're like, “Do you want to come work here?” I was like, “Yeah, sure.” On Girls we worked from 9 am to 1 pm. So after that, I went to Carmichael in the afternoon and finished my day. So in terms of doing it simultaneously, I think on paper, it sounds a lot more interesting and cool than it actually was. It’s not like I was a teacher and then drove an Amazon truck. It’s two jobs where you essentially goof around and tell stories. It’s not like I went from a coal mine to being firefighter on the same day. Grove: Now you’re working on Black Monday and Duncanville at the same time. Lester: I wasn't supposed to be on Black Monday. I was just a writer on the show and when we were doing the pilot, that character was supposed to be Indian. They were like, “So you should just play it for like this one episode,” and I was like, “But I'm not Indian and that is just a way for us to get in trouble immediately.” I told them that I was half-Palestinian and it would be funny if I'm wearing a full Yasser Arafat get up. We were supposed to address it in that episode, and we never did. So it's like not even address until season three. Grove: Wow. So you improvised your character? Lester: The character’s original name was like Rupinder so when I took over the character, he didn't have a name. Don Cheadle improvised the line, “Who are you?” And since I didn't have a name I just said, “Yassir.” So yeah, it worked out well. On Duncanville, Mike Scully, who created the show, asked me, “What was that weird character with the weird voice you used to do in the ‘Carmichael’ writers’ room? Can you do that voice?’ And that’s how I got the role. Yangzi is the hustler of the crew and I just come in and record my voice. Grove: Although you don’t listen to many podcasts, My Brother’s Sneaker is a great one. On behalf of the fans, are you planning on dropping releasing any more episodes?