Yahoo! TV Q&A: Shaq on his new comedy series and his comedy doctoral thesis

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Upload with Shaquille O'Neal
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"Upload with Shaquille O'Neal"

Yeah, sure, there are plenty of video-clip shows on TV, but what's the only one that features NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal performing standup comedy to a contemplative cat? That would be "Upload With Shaquille O'Neal," and yes, that scene is as funny as it sounds.

Shaq's new truTV series -- his fourth reality series, after "Shaquille" on ESPN and "Shaq's Big Challenge" and "Shaq Vs." on ABC -- features the hoopster and comedians Godfrey and Gary Owen commenting on Web videos, performing skits and pop culture parodies, and welcoming guest comedians such as Loni Love.

Shaq talked to Yahoo! TV about the things that make him laugh (no small feat, which viewers see in the "Shaq Don't Crack" segment of "Upload"), his plans for scripted TV shows, and the comedy-themed thesis that helped him earn a doctorate in education.

Why did you decide to do "Upload," a comedy show?

It was a collaborative effort between me and truTV. The network is an unorthodox network; they're kinda out there, I'm kinda out there, so we wanted to do something that was a little different. I know there are a lot of clip shows out there, but that expression, "a picture is worth a thousand words"? You can say the same about clip shows, and we wanted to do one with a little different twist on it. We added Godfrey and Gary Owen, and those guys are funny by profession, and I just try to be funny, so hopefully it's a good mixture.

[Related: Shaq lip-syncs to Beyoncé during Super Bowl Halftime Show]

Which do you like doing more, the skits or commenting on the videos?

I probably like doing the skits best. A lot of the time when you're commenting on the clips, you just have to hope everyone has the same sense of humor about it. You just have to hope everyone likes what you're saying. That's why I could never be a comedian. I would be scared that nobody would like my jokes.

Is trying to be funny more stressful than playing pro basketball?

Yeah, I think it is. I've been in a lot of comedy clubs where those first two jokes don't go, and it's like, "Aw, crap! Aw, crap!"

But you know how to perform under pressure, c'mon.

Yeah, but in basketball, even if you miss your first two shots, it's OK. You have one spectacular play and [the crowd] is back on your side. But if you bomb those first two jokes at a comedy club, they're like, "This comedian is terrible! Booo! Booo!"

In general, what kind of viral videos usually make you laugh?

Well, I've been all over the world, all types of cultures, and seen all types of humor, and the same kinds of things are funny everywhere. Funny is funny to me. I like the little cute stuff, like with kittens ... one of my all-time favorites is "Charlie bit me ... Charlie bit my finger!" (Laughing) And then there's urban stuff, and fights ... there's a lot of stuff that I watch. Funny is funny.

This isn't your first reality series. What draws you to the genre?

I really wanted to be in the business of producing TV shows. I really like that. I would still be doing "Shaq Vs." if I hadn't blown my Achilles out. Hopefully this works out. But, you know, I'm not a guy who sits around going, "Oh, I hope this gets picked up for next season. I need the money." I'm basically doing it for fun, and I just want people to laugh. If they don't like it, I guess we'll have to go back to the drawing board and create another show. Luckily for me I don't have to do it for the monetary aspect.

Would you consider doing a scripted show?

Yeah, I'm working on it. I've been talking to Jamie Foxx. He and I are talking to Ice Cube about something, so we're working on it.

[Related: Shaquille O'Neal to guest star on 'Southland']

Would you star in the show?

Of course.

No one should really be surprised you're delving into comedy, since it was the topic of your thesis, "The Duality of Humor and Aggression in Leadership Styles."

Yes. I was anxious to see which leadership style was more effective. During my studies, I saw that no one leader is 100 percent one way, that you have to modulate. When it comes to myself, I'm 70/30: 70 percent humorous, 30 percent serious. But I did a lot of interviews with people, and it was quite interesting what I found. Like when I interviewed a couple of people from Apple, they said that Steve Jobs was 70 percent serious and 30 percent humorous. But every time we saw Steve Jobs on TV, he was always very funny, playful, so I thought he was the funniest guy in the world, but they said he was a monster in the office. So that's how I came up with the idea. If you look at dictators and how they lead, through aggression, I just thought, OK, which is more effective?

So what was your conclusion? Which leader is more effective?

Well, they're both effective, but in the long run, I think the humorous leader is more effective. It's more positive. And fear can only last you so long.

"Upload With Shaquille O'Neal" premieres Thursday, 2/21 at 10:30 PM on truTV.

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