Sept. 20--In some ways, Christopher "Kid" Reid was returning the favor. After all, Bill Maher's friendship had "encouraged" Reid to happily change his show-biz tune.
Reid, half of Kid 'N Play -- a successful hip-hop/R&B duo two decades ago -- now is a stand-up comedian. He also co-wrote the theme song for HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," which continues its 10th season tonight.
"I have no complaints," said Reid, a regular guest on Maher's previous show (Comedy Central/ABC's "Politically Incorrect"). "More important than money, I get a fair amount of prestige. I was more concerned about writing a really cool theme for Bill than making a lot of money."
Reid seeks plenty of laughs Saturday as he joins six other comedians -- including Stockton's Dewayne "Insane Wayne" Jackson -- for two shows at the Empire Theatre.
In 2000, as part of a "Funny People and Who They Think Are Funny" segment on Oprah Winfrey's TV show, Maher "brought me," Reid, 49, said. He'd finished hosting "Your Big Break" on TV and was "looking for something new to do. Something to stretch creatively."
"My first set of jokes was something about my family. My Jamaican relatives. It's (Jamaican patois) one of those accents you hear a lot, but people don't do it that well. It usually gets a good laugh, though. I kind of got excited."
That's mostly what's been motivating Reid -- an actor who still raps with Christopher "Play" Martin, 51 -- for 13 years.
When Maher's HBO show was being developed, Reid checked in about its theme song.
"Somebody had submitted (one)," Reid said from his Hollywood home. "I said, 'Let me hear it.' I thought it was terrible. 'Let me find something that's kind of rougher and edgier.' He needed one that was his alone. Bill liked it a lot."
Reid's collaboration with Buster Whitfield and Shavoni Parker is credited prominently on "Real Time" segments.
While growing up in The Bronx, N.Y. -- Martin was a boyhood friend -- Reid spent enough time on the streets to sense the intensifying hip-hop vibe.
Born to a Jamaican father (Calvin "Red") and Irish mother (Marjorie) -- both social workers -- Reid was "always kind of a class-clown kind of dude. I made jokes to try to get attention. I didn't ever envision how I'd be famous."
Though he attended the academically intense Bronx School of Science, Reid said "science probably was my weakest subject. I was much more of a reader ('The Canterbury Tales,' Shakespearian sonnets) and all the great poets."
At 14, he started "rapping and rhyming. I just started hearing the music taking the streets by storm. We all loved it. It seemed like a really cool way to communicate. Not everyone's a singer. But everybody can talk. We battled and rhymed at house parties, community centers and parks. The girls liked it, too."
Reid began studying English literature at New York's Herbert H. Lehman College -- dad wanted him to become a lawyer -- but "shortly after that I got famous."
Herby "Love Bug" Azor, another Bronx buddy, had guided Salt-N-Pepa, a trio from Queens, N.Y., to prominence.
"We were sorta next up," Reid said. "It was just a lot of fun. We weren't making a lot of money, but it didn't matter. We got to be creative. It was all brand new. Incredible."
In addition to Kid 'N Play's three albums (1988-91), Reid's "hi-top fade hairstyle" attracted major attention.
"It's coming back with a lotta young people," Reid said. "I've met a few people who rock it. It's very flattering. A young person's hairstyle. I never repeat myself. I've had a lot of hair styles."
He's done film voice-overs, TV -- he'll be on the Fox Network's "Enlisted" in 2014 -- and in nine movies, including this year's "House Party 5." Kid 'N Play still perform, mostly at National Basketball Association games.
Stand-up comedy -- PG-13 and a little R -- is his main thing.
"I'm kind of an observationist," said Reid, a married father of three teenagers. "Everyday stuff. Everyone has crazy family members. Or their kids are exasperating. I see funny things on TV. It's a little bit of everything I am as a person.
"I don't write 'a-chicken-crosses-the-road' jokes. It's: 'Can you believe this person did this?' "
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