This past weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, I had the privilege to interview the champ himself, Mike Tyson, for Adult Swim’s Mike Tyson Mysteries. In this roundtable interview, Mike spoke about the show, how he loves to entertain people, what his kryptonite is and what he thinks about where the sport of boxing is now.
Q: How would you rate your overall experience with the first season of Mike Tyson Mysteries?
Tyson: Great. It doesn’t really matter what I anticipate or think about, the only thing that really matters is the results and I guess that’s why we’re here again ’cause we had pretty good results.
Chris Salce: My dad wanted me to tell you that he thinks you’re one of the funniest men on the planet, and he doesn’t laugh at anybody really, he wasn’t your biggest fan before but you made him turn around and love you. What do you think it is about your comedy that does that to people and hits people to make everybody laugh?
Tyson: I don’t know…it’s just what I’m born to do, I’m born to entertain people, either fighting or what I’m doing now, it could be either of those, I could do it for thirty-thousand people or three people, it’s just what I know how to do. I know how to entertain people.
Q: I know that the fight game has a little bit of comedy to it because you’re trying to get into somebodies head, did you learn something from showmanship?
Tyson: This is what I learned as a kid, my soul objective only is for me to have the audience say ‘when’s the next time I can see him?’ That’s what I do.
Q: When Warner Bros. first approached you about this show, what were your thoughts?
Tyson: I said ‘No.’ I didn’t want to do it. Hugh [Davidson] said no too, it was never going to work. I guess that’s why they are the suits at Warner Bros. and we are the walking stiffs [laughs]. They know what’s going to work and we don’t. I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to do any of this [at first]. When I saw the first draft, I thought it was up to date, very sophisticated, I wanted to try to do this and make it look good and they made me look good.
Q: Can you tell us about some of the cartoons you grew up with you that might have influenced you?
Tyson: Cartoons of the 70’s. Deputy Dog, Looney Tunes, Heckle and Jeckle, Superman, Super Friends all that stuff, Huckleberry Hound, Scooby-Doo, all the Hannah-Barbera stuff pretty much.
Q: How surreal is it for you to watch the fanbase grow?
Tyson: I don’t know, I don’t question my life [laughs]. I say ‘Well this is working.’ This is great, I never thought I’d be in this particular thing in general but this is working and if it’s working, let’s just hang out here for awhile.
Q: Since you have done both acting and voice acting, which do you prefer?
Tyson: I like live performances. I like being loud in a front of a crowd of people.
Q: Do you still raise pigeons?
Tyson: Yes, that’s something that when you are a pigeon fancier, you do it til you die. When I die, someone’s going to come and be like ‘I’m here to pick up Mike’s birds,’ that’s just how all the pigeon fanciers are.
Q: How is it like working with Norm [MacDonald] which plays a pigeon?
Tyson: I never met Norm, I never saw Norm, I know he has a big fanbase cause everybody approaches me on the streets and tells me how great he is but I never spoke to him, I don’t know what he looks like.
Q: Is that sort of challenging that when you do voiceover work, you don’t have anybody to feed off of?
Tyson: I want everything to be challenging. I want to be up against a situation that if I fail, I want the chance of being humiliated. Only by that kind of adversity, that I will rise above my level to my performance. It can’t be just a walk in the park, I’m going to suck at that, it has to be something really threatening.
Q: You seem like you are really comfortable with yourself now, especially more than when you were when you were younger, how did that happen?
Tyson: I don’t know about that. I don’t know if anybody is really comfortable with themselves, if they are ever totally real with themselves you know? ‘Cause that’s our job in life, is to overcome what we hate about ourselves and what we despise about ourself. That’s our journey is to overcome.
Q: If you can have any super power, what would it be?
Tyson: To read people’s minds. Then I’ll know how to move [smiles]. You’d hear ‘I hate that motherf***er’ [laughs], ‘How can I get some money out of this guy?’
Q: Do you find yourself turning down more and more stuff?
Tyson: I don’t want to turn down anything. I just like working. I just like to stay busy working.
Q: A lot of boxers haven’t had the same success as you had after their boxing career, you managed to get better at anything you do, how is that?
Tyson: That just comes from having a great support system. It has nothing to do with me. Without a great support system, you have nothing.
Q: If you had any kind of dream project, what would it be?
Tyson: A dream project?…I think I would want to direct and produce, be behind the camera. I did a documentary called ‘Champs,’ about the lifestyles of three very successful [boxing] champions that come up from crime and drug infested areas, the bottom of the line in America as far as intercity is concerned. My personal opinion, when I saw the film, I saw three people who had great potential and the shame of where they were and the desire to get out of the rut they think they’re in, made them extremely successful, all three of us.
Q: What’s scarier, a heavyweight fight or being here with one hundred-thousand geeks, freaks and weirdos?
Tyson: Neither. I try not to be selfish, I f*** up when i’m in my selfish mode, it never fails. When i’m always thinking about how i’m going to get stimulated from a situation regardless…whatever it takes to get there, i’m going down. My kryptonite is selfishness.
Chris Salce: How do you feel about how the sport of boxing is now, compared to how it was when you were in the ring? Now, there’s really no heavyweight division and all everyone wants to talk about is Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Tyson: It’s about giving the people what they want when I was fighting. Regardless of who you are whether it’s the queen of England, the president, the secretary of state, they may have a really dignified position in life but when you come to a fight, I know you want to see a man comatose, you want to see him hurt. I don’t care what kind of title you got or how dignified you’ve become, you want to see them get knocked senseless, you don’t want them to move and that’s what I tried to give them.
Q: You said you wanted to be behind a camera, have you thought about maybe giving suggestions on some episodes?
Tyson: Absolutely. I was suggesting that he and the pigeon constantly conflict with one another, I was thinking that Yung [Hee Tyson] should adopt a cat and the pigeon would be trying to get the cat and that he should dump on the cat sometimes.
Q: Do you have a favorite episode?
Tyson: Yeah, I was a reluctant serial killer for astronauts.
Mike Tyson was a really down to Earth guy. He joked around with us and gave us honest answers and it was really fun and an honor to interview him.
Be sure to tune into Adult Swim for Mike Tyson Mysteries on July 20 at 12:45 am.