Boxer, actor and entertainer Mike Tyson visited Comic-Con International in San Diego to promote his new Adult Swim animated series, Mike Tyson Mysteries. While there, he joined CBR TV’s Jonah Weiland aboard the world-famous CBR Yacht to discuss his journey from heavyweight boxing glory to animated immortality.
Tyson talks about his “second act” following his boxing career and numerous personal troubles, whether he enjoys the attention from Comic-Con attendees and his mission as an entertainer. The renaissance man then discusses how his new cartoon came together, whether all the absurdity is scripted or improvised while recording and how embarrassment is no longer an issue for him. He wraps up by talking about his noted love of pigeons, how he grew up around pigeon culture, and the great joy he gets from raising them and being part of a larger global community.
On being in a better place at this point in his life and being one of the most popular figures at Comic-Con: I’m just very happy to be working, you know, be able to entertain people. Because I think that’s really what I live for even more than just money — I enjoy money ’cause I have to pay bills. Everybody could always use a buck or two but I just really just enjoy entertaining people.
I’m just very grateful, and that’s what I’m trying to express is gratitude. Sometimes I get too much love and I can’t handle that stuff. I don’t know, I just don’t understand — I’m a recovering addict and in our world the lack of the love and too much love is sometimes detrimental. I have to always put everything in perspective and always have gratitude.
On not considering himself to be funny: No, I don’t at all. But people do, you know? People think I’m funny and stuff. That’s my thing, I just want to entertain the people. It’s what I live for. You know I bet you some time or another, 500, 600 years ago, I was on a plantation with a banjo dancing and singing ’cause that shit’s in my blood. I don’t feel ashamed, I don’t feel — I laugh at myself, and that’s just what I want to do. I want to make somebody feel good. I want to make them feel the way they make me feel by enjoying my entertainment.
On the cartoons he watched growing up and his inner geek: [I watched] Challenge of the Super Friends and all that stuff. I’m a big super hero guy, Green Lantern, all that stuff. I guess deep down in my mind I always wanted to be a super hero, you know? They had the wrestling, they had the super hero that were wrestling — Hulk Hogan, all those guys, Andre the Giant. I think that’s everybody’s inner geek where we could escape, be something that we are but we’re not, so to speak.
We’re in a geek-oriented world right now. Everybody has an inner geek in them. You know when you meet people in life, me and you, no one is who they truly appear to be. We have our insecurities, sometimes we don’t wanna act silly. When I was young I took myself too serious, I wanted people to think I was a tough guy, so I wouldn’t fart around anybody or anything. [Laughs] If I’m around my wife I’m farting all the time. She’s like she’s dying, man. Her eyes are burning man. But it’s just life, when life turns, and we’re not here long so we have to be happy while we’re here to the best of our ability. Really, who knows what that is, happiness, because it’s not a perpetual thing. It’s just we get it when we can.
On the cast of characters in Mike Tyson Mysteries: I have my adopted Korean stepdaughter, [Yung Hee] — I thought she was Chinese, I found out she was Korean last night. I got the Marquess of Queensberry, the guy that pretty much invented the one-minute rest, three-minute boxing situation. Then again, we got the pigeon as well. The funny thing about, the Marquess of Queensberry, his son was [Oscar] Wilde’s lover. He was the cause of [Oscar] Wilde going to prison. That’s crazy when you think of that. The guy who discovered fighting, discovered the manly way of boxing, so to speak, and they lived that life. You know what I mean? Right now I want them to do a skit where we gotta make him go back and, “Hey, we gotta check your demons, make some amends to [Oscar] Wilde.” One of the scenes — not now, but the next scene, we’re gonna have to check him about that. Because times are different now. I’m gonna have to explain times are different now [to him]. It’s a different world and this is cool, you know. People have to live their lives.
On his 2,500 pigeons and growing up around pigeon culture: I have around 2,500 pigeons in real life. That’s my passion. I have them everywhere. I have them in New York, I have them in Las Vegas, I have them in New Jersey — everywhere that I hang out. Los Angeles. I have birds, it’s just a culture more so than a pet thing. This is just what we do. In our neighborhood we fly pigeons. Some people raise horses, some people raise dogs, we have pigeons, and that’s just what we do. We don’t know. We start as a young kid and then finish when we die, that’s just what it is. I don’t understand but it’s just a culture from where we’re from.
Everybody had them where we’re from. It’s a culture, New York City, all over the world, there’s clubs all over the world. So you could be a member of a club all over the world. A guy in China could have a pigeon and you could contact him, you guys could talk about pigeons. I also talk about trading eggs. Some people are experts in color so you could say, “What would I breed to get this color?” It’s a big amalgamation of pigeon lovers that have a chance to interact with each other, guys that don’t even speak English but we can interact on the Internet.