Rickey Smiley sings, disciplines, jokes on TV One's 'Rickey Smiley For Real'

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Comic  Rickey Smiley may hear Drake and Future every day on his syndicated morning show but when he's in his own car, he pops in 1970s soft rock and sings along to the likes of  Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, 10cc, Journey and Genesis.

"I listen to that stuff, like, every day," Smiley said in an interview earlier this week.

But he's hardly taking it easy, paraphrasing the Eagles.

In the first episode of his new reality show "Rickey Smiley For Real," which aired last night on TV One, he shows himself to be a single workaholic who tries to carve out time with his kids.

His colleagues ride him for being incredibly picky, if not borderline OCD. Rock-T said he forced a girl to wear socks in his house because he didn't like her walking around barefoot. "I'm not picky," he said on the show. "I'm just not going to end up in a bad situation and end up in Section 8."

TV One aired three seasons of his sitcom "The Rickey Smiley Show," which was loosely based on his real life. But the network decided to shift gears and show Smiley himself rather than a fictional version for a test eight episodes. If it works out, he'll be back filming in February for a second season.

The show splits between his work in Atlanta and his personal life in Birmingham with his four kids (and a nephew he treats as a son) on weekends. His "Alice" (of the Brady Bunch fame) is Miss Pat. He also has a therapist of sorts who is appropriately named Spirit. "It's not easy juggling family and work, somehow with a little bit of prayer, I manage to get it done,' he said.

He said in his off time, he likes to fish, watch sports and follow politics. With his kids, he watches basketball and dances around a lot (mostly hip hop).

"You see me being a good dad and good uncle," he said. "The advice that I give. I have so many layers than just being on the radio and doing stand-up comedy." He hopes to show off his new Rickey Smiley Foundation work, as well as his business endorsement deals.

Probably for contractual reasons with Bravo and such, Porsha Williams does not show up, although she is part of the "Dish Nation" crew and is on the tour bus. Special K, a cast member, is also absent.

Doing reality TV, he said, was not a big deal for him. (It helps that he is an executive producer with local producer Roger Bobb and has final say over what appears.). "It didn't bother me at all," he said. "It took me a week having people in the house. Outside of that, the work itself didn't bother me. It was a lot fun."

The show began taping in late summer after Claudia Jordan's departure. Da Brat had already arrived as a temporary replacement.

Although Da Brat has not officially been named a full-time member of the Rickey Smiley Morning Show (Smiley deferred to his bosses at Reach Media), it's clear Smiley is a fan. "She's doing great," he said in the interview. "We lover her."

She even gets her own airtime on the reality show where she meets with actor and friend LisaRaye to talk about the show. "I love doing radio," she said. "I love learning from him. I want to master radio like I master rap."

On the show, he said she shouldn't put so much pressure on herself and focus more. Plus, he said not to "overtalk." Otherwise, he said she is doing well and ratings were going back up. Another issue: she farts too much. Yes, that was a topic.

Like Jay Leno, Smiley can't help but work - a lot. He goes out on the road at least two or three times a month. The first episode shows him performing in Detroit for 3,000 people. "You can't get me off stage,' he said.

He also shows his disciplinarian side. After two of his sons are caught sneaking out of the house by Miss Pat, he takes their bedroom doors down. Privacy: out. He also takes away their smartphones. "It's consequences," he said. "Don't ever sneak out of my house again. Take your punishment like a man."

If you've noticed Smiley is not on "Dish Nation" (7 p.m. weekdays, WAGA-TV in Atlanta) as much anymore, you are right. He is off at least half the time because of other obligations, leaving the work to Headkrack, Rock-T, Porsha and Gary With Da Tea.

"It's hard to do every day," he said. "I'm in LA a lot. I have other projects in development."


"Rickey Smiley For Real," 8 p.m. Tuesdays, TV One

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.