Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Haitian V creator touches nerve with Youtube skits

By Clem Richardson

Thousands have viewed Brooklyn resident Vladimir Calixte's social commentary comedy skits on YouTube.

Vladimir Barthelemow Thelonious Rasputin Slocumb Calixte 3rd is Haitian V.

No joke.

If the latter name doesn't register, you're not among the thousands of YouTube users who eagerly await the latest video missive from Haitian V, the patois-speaking, 45-year-old Haitian hustler that Brooklyn resident and hilarious urban Everyman Calixte created.

- There's Haitian V trapping a sexual predator, ambushing the man with a camera "Cops"-style after the man shows up at an apartment carrying two bottles of liquor for a date with a 14-year-old girl he met online.

"It's not in my budget to chase him," V says as the man flees the apartment.

- There he is, wearing his trademark fedora and sitting in front of a Haitian flag, riffing in mostly two-minute-long videos about everything from Eliot Spitzer, Britney Spears, rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West to the questionable fashion sense of men who wear their pants too low ("In Haiti, they would beat you with a stick!").

- V cooks Thanksgiving dinner, awkwardly shovels snow while whining about the cold, touts Haiti as a spring break destination where tourist can see "Haitian Girls Gone Wild." He calls in a personal trainer, Bruno, to help him get "sexy for the ladies," but of course things go wrong.

- Now V gets caught trying to videotape a movie in a theater so he can make and sell bootleg copies. In the latest tape, uploaded last week, he challenges a kid who claims to be selling candy on the subway to benefit his basketball team to a one-on-one match - V shows up on the court wearing black socks, brown shoes and his trademark hat.

It's not pretty - and neither is the game.

V's favorite curse, "S--- man!", is reserved for people "not doing what they are supposed to do,"

said, and it is sprinkled generously throughout most of his videos, some of which have had close to 40,000 hits - one, on the Kanye West vs.
50 Cent

, has been seen more than 84,000 times.

Some of the skits, which are all ad-libbed around a general premise, are laugh-out-loud funny; others are at least Norman Mailer's definition of David Letterman funny (funny, but won't make you laugh hard enough to keep you awake).

What's clear from the comments that follow each is that in V, Calixte has created a memorable character with whom many people identify.

Like that Thanksgiving video, in which V talks about making spaghetti with ketchup and sliced hotdogs.

"My family raised my sister and I soo Haitian, to the point that when I found out that spaghetti was really supposed to be with meatballs, I was shocked!" wrote SunshinelzDivine.
"Haitian V is not trying to be funny; he's just trying to get his point across," said Calixte, 24, who modeled the character on his Uncle Ernest and a friend, Mario.

He appropriated the "S--- man!" curse from a friend's father.

A performer coming out with his own mixed-tape comedy album who also works a few of the lower East Side comedy clubs, like the Laugh Lounge on Wednesday nights, Calixte said he still remembers the first joke he ever told.

He was in kindergarten.

"My class from Alpha Pre-School was on a bus going to Coney Island," he said. "I started singing, 'Pee Wee Herman is going goo-goo!' Everybody started laughing, and the teachers asked me to say it again. And I did, and they laughed like the first time.

"I thought, 'Hmmm, I got something.'"

Calixte was born in Brooklyn's Woodhull Hospital. His mother, Maryse, a home attendant, was Haitian; his cab driver father, Yves, Dominican.

He went to PS 181 in Flatbush, Marine Park Junior High and William E. Grady High School in Coney Island.

"I was the class clown at every school," Calixte said. "But I am also very inquiring. You might be interviewing me, but I'll ask questions like I'm interviewing you. That's how I put my comedy together."

He did a year at Kingsborough Community College (2002) and a "fish out of water" year at Virginia's Norfolk State University (2003) before returning to New York to see where his acting and comedy would take him.

"I didn't like it down there," Calixte said. "Anywhere past New Jersey is like the country to me."

He has worked as a photo editor at SharifZiyyadat.com, and did jobs at VIBE magazine.

Four years ago, a friend, DJ Mo Chedda, asked Calixte, who does several Caribbean accents flawlessly, if he could create a character to appear on a trio of videos Chedda wanted to put on YouTube.

"He [Haitian V] didn't even have a name," Calixte said. "We were walking down the street and I said [switching into Haitian V], 'You know, I don't play soccer, I don't play basketball. Dat's not a human sport. A human sport is football. You people call dat soccer, but dat's football, 'cause you take your foot and you're kicking de ball.

"He said, 'Yeah, yeah, that's it!' We went in, and I borrowed a blazer and I had this hat, my late grandfather's [Adolph Charles] hat - which Haitian V still wears - and did the three skits."

Mo Chedda came up with the name Haitian V.

They riffed it off freestyle, without scripts.

The skit featuring Haitian V took off. Online fans were begging for more, but Calixte wanted to do other projects.

It was not until last year, when Calixte was hustling work as a movie extra, that friend and fan Ali Muhammad persuaded him to reintroduce Haitian V.

"He said people register with him, and you have to give the people what they want," Calixte said. "He said, 'Man, you got gold here!'"

Calixte features the Haitian flag in most of his pieces because "Haiti is not being seen in the best light right now," he said. "If I can do anything for it to be seen a little bit more positively, I'm gonna do that."

You can see the series on YouTube - or on Haitian V's MySpace page, by putting Haitian V in the search field.



No comments:

Post a Comment