Review Fix Exclusive: E.A. Gray Interview: The Mind Behind Kung-Fu Kintae
“Yeah, hi, is this E.A. Gray?”
“Who the hell is this?”
“It’s a journalist to interview you, if this is E.A. Gray.”
“I have no idea who this is. I’m sorry, one second. Margaret will you shut the hell up please! Who am I speaking to right now?”
“This is Teddy of Review Fix.”
“Teddy Review Fix? Teddy Review Fix from where? Oh my God is this that guy that gave my little sister herpes?”
“Nah. Wrong guy.”
“I’m sorry, you must have the wrong phone number then.”
Little did I know, I had just met E.A. Gray.
That is, I had just met E.A. Gray’s impression of a “wimpy Jewish guy.” Unbeknownst to me, he is notorious amongst his friends as the “prank phone call king.”
Just like his cartoon, “Kung Fu Kintae,” Earl Anthony (E.A.) Gray doesn’t fail to bring the funny. His is a life ruled by the tenets of comedy.
To him, absolutely nothing is sacred.
“I’ve learned to make everything as funny as possible,” says Gray. “I see humor in everything. I think every situation, even the most tragic situation, has some humor in it.”
There is evidence enough of this sentiment within his racy, one-man-show Youtube production under the username “BrushLimbaux.” It’s steeped to the gills with political incorrectness, video games, hate speech and pop-culture references. It looks like PaRappa the Rapper, if the “punches” and “kicks” of the 1996 video game were actual punches and kicks—and PaRappa wore a Bob Marley shirt—and fought against people named Soul Glo-bot and Hadiq N. Uranus.
It follows the life of socially awkward blaxploitation hero, “Kung Fu Kintae,” the series’ namesake, and his secret agent work for “Kung-Fu Headquarters,” protecting the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area.
It’s tongue is planted so firmly in its cheek, it’s coming through the other side, but wouldn’t you believe it’s for a good cause?
Some reviews describe “Kung Fu Kintae” as “racist” and “homophobic.”
The “Roots” reference should have tipped anyone off that they’re walking into a non-kosher area of the internet wild-west.
“Comedy is no-holds-barred,” he said. “You should be able to say whatever the hell you want. I don’t think anybody’s really going to say: ‘Oh my God, Chucky Chan [KFK character], every Chinese person talks like that.’ It’s just making fun of a ridiculous stereotype.”
Lighthearted jesting about race and racial tensions, juxtaposed against his acknowledgement of the sobering reality of what he’s joking about, shows some of the more realistic foundations of Gray’s satirical sense of humor. This same thought process visibly bleeds into “Kung Fu Kintae’s” characters and plot lines.
Gray, born on April 23, 1986, in Queens, New York, to Elizabeth and Beresford (Barry) Gray, describes himself, and his older brother, Marlon, as jokesters growing up. This was especially true when it came to appearances.
“My brother’s lighter skin than I am,” says Gray. “My dad’s purple and my mom’s, like, white, basically. So, my brother, he became light-skinned and I just got my dad’s genes, I guess. He’d crack a joke and piss me off, then just be like ‘lighten up.’”
Gray laughs, mentioning how lighter and darker skin tones are a big deal within the black community.
“There’s just this civil war going on and it’s really funny,” says Gray. “There’s people who actually get into this, get really deep into this, especially in African-American culture. I’m not getting into that. To me, it’s just this really funny joke and it kind of sucks sometimes, but you just deal with it.”
He talks candidly about his upbringing, which he describes as both stern and a tad out of the ordinary.
“I had a… I would say it’s a weird childhood. I really don’t know how to describe it,” says Gray. “My parents, they’re both not from this country, they’re both from Guyana, which is in South America. So, I mean, it’s pretty strict growing up, you know? It’s only now that I can kind of talk to my parents and everything in the open because I’m an adult. Maybe they’ll even let me get away with saying the word ‘s***’ or ‘f***’ a couple times, you know? But if that happened as a kid, I’d get my ass kicked.”
His family moved from Queens, in Gray’s younger years (circa 1994-1995), settling around Freehold, New Jersey. Gray was not a fan of the place, to say the least.
“I don’t like talking about that because I hate the state of New Jersey. ‘Jersey Shore’ is pretty much—Yeah, that was like my whole teenage life,” says Gray. “That’s the kind of area that I grew up in, so it just sucked.”
There were some subtle financial hardships for the Gray family, but nothing too extreme.
“Coming up, we weren’t ‘poor,’ but we weren’t exactly rich or anything,” says Gray. “It wasn’t until I hit my teenage years that my dad started getting promotions, and everything, and started making a little bit more money. When I was a kid, I would just wear my brother’s outfits, just the hand-me-downs. My brother’s, like, 6’3″ now. He’s just a tall kid. I think he’s been six feet since he was ten. I was just a little bit shorter than him and everything would just sag on me.”
He mentions what going to elementary school was like in Freehold, and the awkwardness that came with growing up in a predominantly white community as a black child.
Specifically, his first fight.
“I was one of—one black kids in my school,” says Gray. “This kid’s in class one day, just starts cracking on me like ‘ah, look at the poor black kid, wearing baggy clothes.’”
“And her name was Marcie Wexler.”
He chuckles a bit.
“Don’t get confused, OK?” Gray pleads. “She had to be, like 200lbs. She comes up to me, slaps me in the face. I was a 3rd grader so I was just like ‘AHHH!’ So I ran at her, tackled her. I got my ass kicked. I’m not afraid to admit that. She had, at least, 50lbs on me. I guess that would be one of my childhood experiences, getting my ass kicked by a girl.”
Sticking to his childhood, he brings up his love of cartoons, and the one that shifted his life to the course it’s on now, “The Simpsons.”
“I remember the first episode I ever saw,” he says. “It’s still one of my favorite episodes, and I know Conan O’Brien wrote it. It was Homer vs. The Monorail.”
He was hooked instantaneously.
“I remember the first time I saw that episode I died laughing, like, I couldn’t stop laughing, talking to kids about it the next day in school,” he recalls. “I remember being able to quote everything from that episode and I probably still can. If you tell me a quote, I can tell you what character said it. And then, from that point on, I was a hardcore Simpson’s fan. Then I started watching South Park, then Family Guy. Even to this day, I’m still ‘Wednesday, 10 o’clock and getting ready to watch South Park.’”
These shows impacted him; even his perception of life was drastically affected—for the better. He describes himself as socially awkward, or “always saying the wrong thing.” In a sense, these cartoons helped him overcome that obstacle and meld it into a functional part of his personality.
“It’s just—I’ve learned to not be so serious,” he says. “I guess this is where that social awkwardness comes in. I like making people feel really awkward, or making situations really awkward, because to me, it’s really funny, and the more ridiculous it is, the funnier it is, so I don’t take everything in life so seriously.”
He brings up college, his great escape from Freehold. Upon his graduation, back in 2004, various schools attempted to recruit him for his aptitude as a sprinter in track and field.
“I picked Maryland,” says Gray, mentioning his dual-major in government and philosophy. “I still don’t regret that decision. I still love it here. I’m still in the town of College Park because D.C.’s way too expensive and I would be in so much trouble if I lived there. Drinking and women? I’d be f***ed.”
He attends law school, seemingly as an interim. Being a lawyer isn’t exactly his grand ambition. He’s focused much of his time and spirit, on continuing his brainchild, “Kung Fu Kintae.” The newest episode of which, he says, is slated for release some time in December due to his student workload and being practically the only creator (Other than his brother, who provides the theme music) of the show.
His philosophy is simple, but poignant: “You only live once, so if you got a dream, go after it.”
In the meantime, he’s stuck in the same bubble as many other students across the states: unemployed and living on student loans. Nevertheless, that doesn’t cause his will to falter. He’s determined to have “Kung Fu Kintae” live up to its name as the “Greatest Cartoon Ever Made.”
Good? Bad? He’s in the ‘Gray’ area.
“Be prepared to laugh,” he says. “It’s a show that is just meant to poke fun at things, to be offensive. Come into it with an open mind ready to be shocked by something that’s said or something that’s done. Just have fun watching it. I include the fight scenes there for a reason and I try to make them as cool as possible. Get ready to be entertained.”
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