Preacher Lawson will perform at the StarDome Comedy Club this weekend, but it won’t be his first time in the city.
“I have a friend in Birmingham,” he said. “We kind of fell off, but hopefully I can see him when I come back.”
The only thing is, Lawson doesn’t know his friend’s name.
“It’s weird because I just called him ‘Bama,’” he said laughing. “I was in Job Corp when I was 16. We came from all over the south, and I was there for seven months. I met him there. His nickname was Bama because he was from Alabama, so I don’t know his real name.”
Lawson will perform from Thursday Oct. 12 to Sunday Oct. 15.
His nickname came from his mother.
“My mom was at a gospel conference when I was a baby,” he said. “And people told her when I get older I’m going to be a preacher, so for fun she started calling me ‘Preacher.’ She wasn’t trying to instill it in me, it was just a nickname that stuck forever.”
As a child, he moved a lot, more than 20 times, and that helped him adapt, he said.
“Different minds, cultures, races… I had to learn how to adjust. I didn’t like it. I don’t know why we did it so much. My mom was just like ‘let’s go.’ But I wasn’t going to be like ‘nope, we not going anywhere.’ We just moved a lot.”
Lawson, who made it to the finals on America’s Got Talent season 12, said he is happy to now not have to work a job.
“This is my job, and I love it,” he said of his career in comedy. “I was doing everything before. I was serving, I was a cashier, but most recently I was serving. Whatever I was doing that wasn’t this, I hated it.”
Lawson said he didn’t plan to make it far on America’s Got Talent.
“I just wanted to be on TV. [AGT] was huge, so I was like ‘I just need one episode,’” he said.
After one episode, he got his first gig.
“Just from the first episode. And the second episode, it got bigger. Then the semifinals it was big, and the finals was so big,” he said. “I didn’t have to get to the finals, I just planned on getting on tv.”
Lawson said he would watch AGT and see other comedians get far, which made him believe he could do the same.
“I felt I was at least equally as funny as them,” he said.
Lawson said he admired the judges.
“Simon is the nicest person. A lot of people think he’s mean, [but] he’s just honest,” he said. “Howie’s probably the nicest dude ever. He really believes in comedians and has helped me out a lot. Mel B is super flirtatious, and she’s funny. Tyra Banks is probably the chillest person. She would wear giant sweatpants, and a giant blanket that she’d call a sweater and flip flops and we’d just talk. We’d talk about life, and she was so cool.”
Lawson, who grew up in, and considers himself from, Orlando, said he moved to Los Angeles after getting advice from a comedian he opened for.
“I was in LA because I was opening for this guy. I only had 20 minutes and I had a better set than him,” he said. “After the set he said ‘what are you doing in Florida? Move to LA.” I was like, ‘it’s hard.’ He said ‘you have so much time. Move to LA.’ There’s people out here in their 30s trying. It helps when you’re young.”
Lawson said he grew up with no money, so it’s weird having it now.
“I want people to know that they can do it. Nothing is impossible,” he said. “You just have to work for whatever you want. A lot of people can do standup. The funniest person works at McDonald’s. They just don’t have the drive.”