10 Comics to Watch

Since starring as Bow-Wow’s best friend in the 2005 roller disco movie “Roll Bounce,” Brandon T. Jackson has, appropriately, been on a roll.

At the wrap party for that movie, the then-19-year-old Jackson — a Detroit comic who was discovered at the Laugh Factory — got his next break when he asked Essie Chambers, VP of development for Nickelodeon’s teen channel, the N, if he could get her a drink.

“Actually, I tried to hit on her, to be honest,” Jackson says. “She was like, ‘You don’t know who I am, do you?’ I said, ‘No, do you want a drink?’ She said, ‘Do you want a show?’ ”

Co-produced with Wayne Brady, Jackson’s sketch comedy special, “The Brandon T. Jackson Show,” debuted on the N in December of 2006.

This summer, Jackson is returning to the feature world in his biggest role yet — as one of the stars of DreamWorks’ upcoming Ben Stiller comedy “Tropic Thunder,” in which he plays a rapper-turned-actor who’s starring in the film’s film-within-a-film: the most expensive war picture ever made.

Jackson’s co-stars include Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr.

With the film wrapped, Jackson is hitting the road to perform and is planning a standup show that raises money for the nearly 40 high schools in Detroit that were recently shut down as part of the city’s cost-cutting measures.

He’s also doing his own promotion for “Tropic.” After pitching Paramount, the film’s distributor, with ideas about promotional webisodes, he was given a budget to go out and shoot material. “We did a ghetto ‘Entourage’ thing,” Jackson explains. “I take my friends on a whack-ass adventure though Hollywood, we get caught by the cops. ‘Superbad’-type stuff, we try to find stars.”

POV

“I was the youngest, blackest actor on the set,” says Jackson, noting his “Tropic Thunder” role… and quickly correcting himself to account for Downey Jr.’s character, who notably wears makeup in the film to appear African American. “The blackest without makeup.”

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