It ain't easy being the real Rick James, bee-yatch!
An aspiring Mississippi politician who shares the same name as the late "Super Freak" singer has been fighting an uphill battle trying to keep his campaign signs from being stolen or defaced by fans of a popular sketch on Comedy Central's "Chappelle's Show."
"I've heard all the jokes," said the 53-year-old political hopeful who, prior to the campaign, had been unaware of comedian Dave Chappelle's satirical routine in which he repeats the phrase "I'm Rick James, bitch." The candidate for city council in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, claims his "Vote Rick James" signs are now being displayed proudly in local college dorm rooms instead of on lawns.
"I've had older ladies come up to me all agitated because the signs out on their lawn have been defaced with the B-word," James said. "I've told them, 'No, it's OK, you don't understand, it's from this comedy show.' "
Chappelle is aware of the story, James said, but he has not yet heard personally from the comic. Meanwhile, Comedy Central has released a statement saying it feels bad about the missing campaign signs.
James' wife, Diane, wrote to the channel after the couple caught wind of the joke, lightheartedly asking the network to reimburse the $700 outlay for the stolen and damaged signs.
"The show's writers were on vacation, but they sent the e-mail to a friend of theirs at the New York Post," James said. "We were just dumbfounded." Soon, news of his pilfered signs was making national headlines.
Requests for Rick James memorabilia have been pouring in — T-shirts, signs, anything. "People don't realize I don't have the money to start this up," he said. "If I did, I'd be putting them out in the yard, because my main goal is not to make money off this, but to actually win this campaign."
With less than three weeks to go before the May 3 primaries, the political hopeful is down to his last 10 signs.
Despite his losses, James is trying his best to take it all in stride. His answering machine features the music of the legendary funk singer ("Super Freak," of course), and he even joked that the popularity of his name would help if he ever decided to run for president.
"In the end, this is about me being a city councilperson and getting the guns and drugs out of the schools, and that's not a joke," he said, "but people have kind of turned it into that."
Even still, James said he's in talks with "The Daily Show" to appear in a potential sketch.
"I told the producers it would be funny if they sent somebody down to follow me around as I knock on doors campaigning," he said. "I usually say, 'Hi, I'm Rick James,' and it'd be funny if there was someone there to insert that B-word. I'm not going to say it, but if someone else did, that'd be as hysterical as you can get."