Where Style Meets Substance

Hollywood fashion expert, VIP personal shopper and commentator Joseph "Joe" Katz brings you interviews with celebrities and influencers about their style and personal experiences. He also shares the best beauty & lifestyle tips and tricks to help you look and feel your best.

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Stand-Up Comedian and Actor Tone Bell Part 2: Starring in 'The United States VS. Billie Holiday' and His Personal Style

Stand-Up Comedian and Actor Tone Bell Part 2: Starring in 'The United States VS. Billie Holiday' and His Personal Style

Stand-Up Comedian and Actor, Tone Bell, discusses his role in the Oscar-nominated drama The United States VS. Billie Holiday, and working with actress Andra Day and famed director Lee Daniels. Tone also talks about his personal style, and how he puts his stand-up look together vs his red carpet style.

Follow Tone Bell on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

More about Tone Bell:

Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, Bell won the NBC Stand Up For Diversity Talent Search in 2012 and was awarded a development deal from the network. He was cast as "RJ" the bartender in the NBC sitcom Whitney, and later as "Tedward" in NBC's Bad Judge. Bell also appeared in other TV shows, including VH1's Single Ladies, E!'s Love You, Mean It with Whitney Cummings, Comedy Central's Key and Peele and Game Show Network's Mind of a Man and hosted the first season hidden camera show Jerks with Cameras on MTV. Bell also has a web series on Russell Simmons' YouTube channel All Def Digital called The Green Room.

The Katz Walk is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Executive Producer Gerardo Orlando, Producer Leah Longbrake and Audio Engineer Dave Douglas.

WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE


Joseph Katz:
Hi, guys. Welcome back to The Katz Walk with me, Joseph Katz. I have got Tone Bell back for part two of this great interview. He is a standup comedian, actor extraordinaire. You have to check it out. He is talking in this episode all about working with the famous director Lee Daniels, the fabulous Andra Day, and he's giving you all his tips and tricks in fashion. Stay tuned.

Joseph Katz:
I have to ask you because I watched United States vs Billie Holiday, and I was like ... It was great. Andra Day, she was amazing, and I saw you in it as the club owner and looking so chic and suave, playing that whole role. But then, the thing that really stuck out for me is, you're a comic, but you're playing this really tough-ass role. You kick her. You have sex with her pretty aggressively.

Tone Bell:
Pretty aggressive.

Joseph Katz:
It was pretty aggressive, Tone. That was very aggressive.

Tone Bell:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Joseph Katz:
I'm just putting it out there.

Tone Bell:
Day one.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, day one?

Tone Bell:
Day one. First day shooting. Didn't know that was happening, and that's [crosstalk 00:01:22]-

Joseph Katz:
Oh, and they're like, "Go for-"

Tone Bell:
Yeah. I was like, "Wow, all right. Yeah, I guess we didn't get a chance to manscape, but let's ... Yeah, if we're going to do it, let's do it." And yeah, it was different. Very different. That's actually not the role I auditioned for.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, it wasn't?

Tone Bell:
I auditioned for another role, a little smaller, and they passed. Maybe about a month and a half, two months later, I get a call from Lee, and he was like, "Yo, loved your tape. We went a different direction with this role, but I've got something a little darker and a littler juicier. Do you think you can handle this?" And he called me on a Friday. Saturday, I reread the script with that perspective in mind, and then Sunday morning I was on my way to Montreal.

Joseph Katz:
Did you do a self tape?

Tone Bell:
Yes, before. A different character. Completely different character.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, so you never went in physically to go see Lee or all those people. It was all done-

Tone Bell:
No.

Joseph Katz:
You self tape ... Wow.

Tone Bell:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Joseph Katz:
Wow. That's a big deal to be working with Lee Daniels.

Tone Bell:
Yeah.

Joseph Katz:
I mean, he's a big deal. To be able to ... Have you ever worked with him?

Tone Bell:
No, no, no. Other comedians have, who I know and I've talked to them about ... to be honest with you, there was a part of me that was like, "Do you want to work with Lee Daniels? I heard he can be a hard-ass," and I'm not one of those actors that will ... I don't get berated. Not that I've heard stories about that, but I know he's a serious direction and he gets what he wants. And then working with him, I go, I understand him now. I get him. But he does realize how to talk to you versus ... He doesn't know how to individualize his conversations, per who he's working with. Because I've had situations where I don't like how a director's talking to me in front of people and I'm like, "Hey, man. I'm not from here. You talk to me like this outside, by ourselves, and-"

Joseph Katz:
You say that to them?

Tone Bell:
Oh, yeah. I'm like, "You come out ... I don't play that shit. You're going to talk to me like a person, though." In front of everybody ... I've been on a sitcom where the director was like, "Tone, just do this." I'm like, "Man, if you don't sit back in your fucking chair, put your headphones on ... And if you don't like it, cut it, but this is how I'm doing it." And I just got too frustrated because he was so condescending to me that it just really fucked with me. We say each other at a Christmas party. He goes, "Tone, I know you don't really care much for ..." I was like, "No, I think you're a great director. I just don't like you as a person."

Joseph Katz:
You know what he could've said to you Tone, is "I sign your checks."

Tone Bell:
Right.

Joseph Katz:
I sign your checks, so you're going to do what I ... Because honestly, between you and me, when you say that ... If I was in your same situation, it's like everybody wants what you're doing, so for you to be on a sitcom or whatever ...Everybody wants that. So I'm just thinking as you're talking, if somebody says, "I want you to do it like this," and you're saying, "No," don't you think they can replace you?

Tone Bell:
Well, it's funny because when that came in, I still wasn't getting the respect from him because it was ... I was the sixth lead on the show, and then after testing, I became the second lead on the show. So they changed the dynamic of the show. So now, I'm kind of like co-lead.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, so you're like-

Tone Bell:
And I got a little more power. And then there was a ... I actually had lunch with him this week ... There's a director named Richie Keen who I became really good friends with, and between Richie Keen and Reggie Hudlin who came in and directed episodes, I think, three and four ... They really were like, "Hey, man. You're not being utilized. Do whatever you want to in these next couple takes. We're not going to put you in a box." And then people were like, "Oh, shit. This dude's funny. We have to give him room," and then everything changed after that.

Tone Bell:
And then when this director came back on episode 10 or 11 or some shit, this is when ... I was like, "I don't know. I spread my wings while you were gone," and then he's tried to have that same energy with me, and I was like, "Nah, bro. We're not doing that."

Joseph Katz:
Good for you. Wow.

Tone Bell:
I don't work for you. I work with you.

Joseph Katz:
Right. Oh, that's good.

Tone Bell:
Yeah.

Joseph Katz:
But you also had ... It wasn't like the first day you walked in, you were like, "It's going to be my way."

Tone Bell:
Oh, no, no, no. Oh, man. You're kind of like, "This is still surreal. Whatever you want me to do, I'll do it." And then my costar at the time was ... She was like, "If you don't like it, don't do it, because that's the one they're going to use. If you don't like the wardrobe, don't wear it. Tell them ..." So I didn't know I had this kind of power to compromise. I'm just thinking, "Whatever they say, you've got to do," because it happened so fast.

Tone Bell:
I had done ... Within two years of being here, I was on two sitcoms, I got picked up a series, and pilot that didn't go, and hosted a game show. So it was like, I'm still learning in real time. I didn't even know what a stand-in was. I saw a dude dressed just like me. I'm like, "Who the fuck is that dude? Is he my replacement?" I had no idea. And they're like, "No, no-"

Joseph Katz:
Oh, he was just being your stand-in.

Tone Bell:
He's just my stand-in. Because told me about a stand-in, and I was like, "Why is wearing exactly what I'm wearing? In case I fuck up?" And they were like, "No, no, man. When we're rehearsing, he's going to do this for blocking." I was like, "All right. Y'all need to tell people that." I basically just [crosstalk 00:06:30]-

Joseph Katz:
Because you're making me nervous.

Tone Bell:
Yeah, man. He was the same size, he was the same color, he was the same complexion. I was pissed, and they had to give me the Robert's Rules of Orders around here, so the-

Joseph Katz:
Right.

Tone Bell:
Yeah.

Joseph Katz:
So working with Lee Daniels, when you were saying he would talk to you in a certain way, he talked to everybody like that when he was filming?

Tone Bell:
Yeah. He gets to know you and how you have to listen. I think, to me, that's the sign of a good director, because some people are professionally trained, and some people are getting trained through. It's the classes and techniques, and then talking to other actors and building an arsenal of ... Suit of armor around you, of what I'm good at. So you're always chipping away at who you are as an actor, and some people have been doing this and being trained for forever. I think a good director always knows that behind you, because that'll give you an example versus a technical term that I wouldn't know. But I think Lee talks to everybody how they need to be talked to, versus, "Here's how I talk to everybody," and that's a very good sign as a director.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, I see.

Tone Bell:
Yeah. My thing was, I think we tested each other. You know, you jab a little bit at each other, and then I'm going to spin it as a joke, because that's my defense mechanism. And then, he can't handle not laughing. So it was like, "You tell me what you want. I'll tell you what I can ..." So we come together and we had a very good ... We talked last week. He's a great dude, man. He was like, "This is why I don't fuck with comedians, because y'all always ..." I wasn't very funny on set, because usually when I have to do that, I don't like to try to have to switch back and forth, so until we wrap that scene, I'm in that head space. And then once we wrap and I can throw it away and go get out of that darkness, then I'll have to lighten it up for myself.

Tone Bell:
I've done a lot. I mean, I did August Wilson's M [College 00:08:28]. I've done a lot of darker parts and stuff like that, but never on film. And to be trusted with Lee having me do this was interesting, man. It was-

Joseph Katz:
That was an intense role for you. Just watching it, and I bet working with her ... What was that like? Interesting? She's new to it too. This was her big role.

Tone Bell:
Yeah. And that's why I think we got so close. I talked to her yesterday. She was so in it. I watched a couple playbacks from days prior when I got there because I want to see what she's doing. And the time we got into our first ... Luckily ... I love when directors do this, but ... The first time Billie and John meet is the first scene that Andra and I shot. We got a chance to meet on screen and on set pretty much immediately. And as we're setting up for the second shot, her and I go have a smoke, and these are the ... We just get close. Because we're essentially about to have rough sex on camera. But we got a chance to bond quicker than we expected.

Tone Bell:
And then even in that fight scene, we decided to do it ourselves, even though we had stunt people there.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, where you kicked her?

Tone Bell:
Yeah.

Joseph Katz:
That scene?

Tone Bell:
Yeah. The whole fight. There are actually a couple other scenes that I think will be in the director's cut, that just for time we had to lose, but yeah. I would say it gets worse, or that you actually watch the buildup of that. We've told the story before, so I don't mind saying it, but literally during that scene ... It's crazy to say and to re-watch. I won't watch it because it gets very difficult to watch. I haven't watched it yet, but it's when my character kicks her, my left foot slips, which is why when he kicks her in the stomach and they cut back to her, she grabs her mouth, because we literally had a [snafu 00:10:21] on the set where my left food ended up kicking her in the face.

Joseph Katz:
You did?

Tone Bell:
Yeah. Yes. She ended up busting a lip. I ended up busting her lip on the front of my shoe. It wasn't like a kick, so far as I slipped and she was rolling toward me. It just ... It was crazy. So the end of that scene was exactly what happened. She didn't break, so I didn't break, and that's what happened. It was wild. It was wild.

Joseph Katz:
Did you feel like, "Oh, crap. I hurt her?" Or no?

Tone Bell:
Yes, yes. Very much so. It was like ... I'm telling you, when you see her roll over and she goes, "Oh, fuck," and she stays in it ... It was two seconds of me that breaks and makes sure that she's okay, and then she leaned in. She leaned in to stay committed to it, so it was like, "I've got to stay here with her." So we get that whole thing, and then my character exits, and then Lee says, "Cut, we got it ..." Running right back in there like, "Yo, what ... Are you good?" We hugged it out and we cried and everything, and then I had my assistant send some flowers of like, "Hey, man ..." Because I had to go out of town to shoot something else and then come back and finish the movie. Ironically, we got super close because of it. One of the hardest parts for, I think, both of us to shoot in the film, and then ... I mean, we talk every other day now.

Joseph Katz:
Wow. Because I would think instinctually you'd go, "Oh, my God, wait, cut. Let's see if she's okay," but you stayed in the moment because she stayed in the moment, and then when you cut, then you checked on her.

Tone Bell:
Yeah, yeah. I mean, there's a movie I did just prior to that called Sylvie's Love, where Nnamdi ... We had a fight scene that actually gets cut from the movie, but he literally punched me in the jaw. We got so close he punched me in the jaw, and he was about to break, and I stayed in it and so he stayed in it. And then they didn't even use the goddamned take.

Joseph Katz:
After all that?

Tone Bell:
I'm like, "I took a punch to the face!"

Joseph Katz:
You subjected yourself, yeah. You got hit. You put yourself in physical harm. Wow. Talking about this, did you ever go to acting school? Do you have an acting coach?

Tone Bell:
Yeah, I do. There are a lot of actors that I go to for advice, and that who have been in the game for a long time, of just wanting to take ... I'm on the road so much that taking a every-Saturday class ... Probably this year will be the first time I get a chance to do that, taking a ... Because I'm on tour so much. So I do pull veteran actors to the side, and they work with me if I need something. I went to college for TV and film and minored in theater, but like I said, it wasn't a theater school, but it was a very good program, but not a very big program.

Tone Bell:
I wouldn't say trained as much as I dabbled in it, and then now that I'm peers with people that I admire, they do help out a lot. They'll do scene work with me and try to get there, but it's also difficult because the freedom that you have on stage sometimes helps with that too. You don't want to be so boxed in. So it's a little bit of both. I've found that a group setting in a class isn't really my thing. Not that I wouldn't do it, but it's just, a lot of times, those are on Saturday mornings, and I'm doing 30 weeks a year on the road. So I've got to go to a buddy's house on Tuesday and workshop on a ... And my guys who are ... I don't want to name drop, but just some friends who were doing some very, very great work right now will sit down with me for a couple hours and we'll just work stuff out, and they'll give me the tools that I need to hopefully excel further.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, so you're not going to a literal acting coach?

Tone Bell:
Have I? Yes. But as things progress and getting busier, it's like I have to take advantage of time that these people have and the knowledge that they have because unfortunately if I'm trying to do an eight- to 10-week course ... I haven't had that because I'm also working on a special, so I need those weekends for comedy. It has been a tough divide.

Joseph Katz:
For this United States Versus Billie Holiday, did you go work with a coach to get prepped for this role?

Tone Bell:
Literally got the call on Friday, reread the script Saturday, and then flew to Montreal Sunday, and was on set Monday working.

Joseph Katz:
Holy crap.

Tone Bell:
So it was a learning Saturday, packing and everything, Sunday on the plane, setting intentions and all that kind of stuff, and then watching on Sunday and talking to the producers and stuff. I think my call time on Monday was later in the day, but I went first thing so I could watch what was happening, like let me get in the mood and let me see some playback, because I'm jumping into something ... I think they did start me out where we should've started. Just, who this guy is upfront. Charming guy, assertive guy, definitely always something swimming. He's playing the role of, how do I keep my club open and deal with this, but also make her thinks she needs me? Playing that double side thing of ...

Tone Bell:
But I needed to see where we were and what this narrative was, and talking to Lee and the producers, and Tucker and all the guys, just to ... What do we want from this dude? Because there's not a lot of info on him. There are two John Levys, so I could look him up, but one was the musician, and the other one was a fucking shyster, so there's not going to be a whole lot of articles on this guy. He's underground for a reason. So it's talking to Tyler and talking to Rob Morgan and Da'Vine, everybody, and just trying to get a sense of where we are, and like I said, watching the playback on what they've already shot and getting the feel of it.

Tone Bell:
Something really does kind of transform you when you put on the fashion from that era, the hard shoes and the wool, and the sock garters. It drapes you different, so your posture changes, and it kind of ... And to me, that's very important. I've got to grow inside this thing, versus this doesn't feel like the sweatsuit I'm wearing now. You know those old school coats? Those fucking coats are heavy as shit. It's like lead-lined wool. The coat is 40 pounds. So you get that on, it makes you walk different, and that tie bar and just the hair and everything ... You get a chance to dive into your look. I'm thinking about movies that I've seen before in this era, of the hand in the pocket, and you reach in here for the cigarettes, and what's the mechanics of this dude, and you've got to walk in those shoes for a little bit. So yeah, it definitely happened quick, but everybody was gracious enough to go, "Here's where we are. This is what you need to catch up to," because they had been shooting for a month and a half already, I think.

Tone Bell:
So to come in as the new guy ... Because there was somebody else cast in that role already, and then Lee was like, "Performance-wise, and look-wise, I don't think this is ..." And it wasn't that he wasn't good. Lee told me and was like, "No, the dude was great. I just, for some reason ... It doesn't feel like who should be playing it." So he called me and was like, "I know you're a comedian, but there's something dark in you that I want to extract, I want to pull out. Let's get there." And it was different. It's different having to be comfortable putting your hands on someone first and expressing yourself verbally second. Usually you build to that, right? And then when you have to be okay striking first, and then making your point verbally ... That's just a weird place to be. It's not comfortable.

Joseph Katz:
Right. Well, it's not what you're used to, probably. That's not how we're trained to do. We talk about it and hopefully we never get to that point where we lay our hands on somebody that ... Wow. That's interesting, yeah. So that guy shot it already, and then got replaced by you?

Tone Bell:
No, no, no. He never shot.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, he never shot.

Tone Bell:
Yeah. And so yeah, he never ... I guess they put together the look and everything. I guess they rehearsed, but it just wasn't what-

Joseph Katz:
Oh, it didn't feel it.

Tone Bell:
Yeah. I mean, Lee is a very feelings ... He's like, "This is ... Not that it's not good, but this is not what I imagined, and I need ..." I'm just glad he trusted me with it. I definitely have gotten those calls over the last few months of, "Yo, man, I didn't even know that was you at first. We're used to seeing you-"

Joseph Katz:
Comedy.

Tone Bell:
Yeah, funny. Yeah ..."Subtly funny, and this is very in-your-face and violent, and treacherous."

Joseph Katz:
That's why I'm saying when I talk to other actors, and comedians, and other people, they always say, "Oh, I worked for a month with a coach, and we strategized and we put our intentions, and we did this, and we ..." So to hear you say you had to turn it around within two, three days-

Tone Bell:
Yeah, 48, 72 hours, something like that. I shot over two periods. I did about two weeks and then I had to play Richard Pryor for American Soul on BET, and then I went back to Billie. It actually was a nice break to be like, "Let me do something fun." The production company got me in the middle, and then I went back to Montreal. Luckily, I had days in between. I got a chance to pick Lee's brain and the producer's brain and like I said, watch some stuff, so it was ... I studied while I was there, versus having time to do it. But they gave me plenty of playbacks and like, "Here's where we are, and new drafts of the script are coming in," and Lee was like, "I want you to know everything," and then he changes everything. He's like, "Learn this, learn this, and then we'll work it out," and then next thing you know, we're crossing out. "What do you want to say? This is how it should be and it's very much you." It's very much how-

Joseph Katz:
Oh, you put your own signature.

Tone Bell:
Well, no I mean we work it out together. We sat down and ... What does this feel like? Either he gives an example or I give an example, or I'll pitch something, he'll pitch something, and it's like, "Yeah, that feels right. That feels how dirty and grimy this dude is," because how I delivered this is what Suzan-Lori Parks wrote, and then him editing a little bit, then it's like, "You know what? I think we should go with something like this." A lot of it was in the moment. A lot of it wasn't on the page, and we'd just kind of throw it out there.

Tone Bell:
Let me tell you, when Lee is happy, Lee is happy. And when Lee is like we didn't get it, Lee is like, "Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope." But when you get it he's like, "Yes, motherfucker. Yes, yes! That's that shit right there." And so he's like a proud daddy, and you feel good because ... And the moments you feel terrible is when ... Especially for my character, the moments you feel terrible it's like, "We got it."

Joseph Katz:
That's good.

Tone Bell:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It's like you've got to take a lap to go, all right I've got to get out of this head space.

Joseph Katz:
You work like nonstop. You're like, "Wait, I'm shooting this, but then I'm doing that on the weekends, and then I come back and to do." You're working.

Tone Bell:
It's been a good ... I mean, this year will be 10 years in August.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, wow.

Tone Bell:
Man, it's been a great ride. It's been a great ride. From comedies, to silly, silly comedies, to romantic comedies and dry comedies, and some procedural stuff, and getting a little more drama now and some harder stuff to watch. Yeah, it's been great, man. It's nice to diversify it. I think, especially with all my peers ... People put in so much work and I'm proud of everybody and just glad to get the opportunity, really.

Joseph Katz:
What would you say to a comedian now that's like, "God, I've been working these shows. I've been at The Comedy Store, I've been at The Laugh Factory. I haven't gotten this opportunity." What would you tell that person?

Tone Bell:
Man, you have to stay the course. You have to stay the course. You might want to change up the technique, but stay the course. This is where it happens. I don't know. Well, two years ago I probably would've said something different, but now, I don't know. I'm still trying to figure it out too. The landscape has changed of where you can live, because everything is ... I've had a few Zoom auditions and I can't stand that process. I think you've got to put your best foot forward, but you can't just put any foot forward. If you don't feel comfortable with it, don't do it, because now you just got this shitty tape out there for a part that you really wanted, but ... I think you have to roll some dice and be uncomfortable. Maybe what you were doing isn't working, so how can you shock yourself and them, but also be who you are?

Tone Bell:
There's a lot of ... I don't know, man ... To me, a lot of especially stand-ups to cross over into acting get uncomfortable. Comedy's not always funny. You know what I mean? I think eventually you'll get there. Sometimes the laugh doesn't come on the bit that you want it to. I remember doing a bit for like six, eight months and just was getting nothing. But it's like, I believed in it. I was like, "I've got to ... Something's here. Something's here," and it was nothing better than another comic going like, "Dude, I don't think that bit works." And I was like, "Oh, you don't think I can make that bit work?" It was a challenge.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, and then you did it.

Tone Bell:
And then a few months later, it started ... The fire came, and it was like, "Oh, you're telling me I can't do something?" I love proving someone wrong, so I think you have to get uncomfortable a little bit. What you have been doing is probably great, but what's that next step? Can you be comfortable in trying to do something that's you but slightly different, so people see you a little different?

Joseph Katz:
Yeah. Like you did for the showcase.

Tone Bell:
Yeah.

Joseph Katz:
You kept working at it.

Tone Bell:
Even now, I'm getting into some darker stuff that I think is a part of me, but it's not ... I mean, you said it earlier. I'm actively going to talk about ... There's been police, guns in my face four times in my life, so I have a very difficult relationship with the police, not just from what I see, but what I've experienced. I have an arrest tape. I was on Bad Judge on NBC, and I went home to my homecoming ... Went to Savannah for my college homecoming in 2013, and got arrested that weekend.

Joseph Katz:
For what?

Tone Bell:
I didn't put on a blinker.

Joseph Katz:
And they arrested you?

Tone Bell:
Didn't put on a blinker ... One officer drew his gun, and all this kind of stuff and I was like, "Cool, I'll get in the car. I'll get in the car." And then, I was like, "Hey, man. I'm just an actor. I'm a comedian. I'm coming from ..." I was doing a Comedy Central event and then went to ... We were on hiatus that week and went to Fort Lauderdale for a Comedy Central event, drove up, and had a beer and a drink with my college roommate. We had dinner, and I was driving a mile away to my hotel, got pulled over for no blinker. Two-lane street, didn't put my blinker on. Empty. Fucking empty street. And then the cop goes, "Have you had anything to drink?" I go, "Yes. I drove nine hours, just had a beer with my college roommate, but I'm going right here." Very coherent. I've watched the tape. I have a copy of it.

Tone Bell:
And then, tried to get me to resist and I go, "I'm not ... Put me in the car, man. I will go to jail." I don't know the last time a black man has said, "Take me. I'll go." And then they take me off camera, and then force me to get into the car, even though you've already heard me say, "I will get in the car. I have no problem getting in the car." It's crazy, man. Even listening to the tape ... It's hard to watch it, but you go, "I'm not ... How much ... Could I not be resisting? I'm definitely not resisting." But you play it through your head, and you're trying to make sense of it, but it doesn't.

Joseph Katz:
You have it on tape because ... Was it because you had a drink that they wanted to take you in?

Tone Bell:
Well, if you admit to ... They're going to take you in for a DUI. I was like, "I have no problem with that, but-"

Joseph Katz:
But they can give you a test right there, can't they?

Tone Bell:
Yes.

Joseph Katz:
Like a-

Tone Bell:
And I did the field sobriety test and everything. I go, "All right, if I failed it, then great. I'll go to jail. I have no problem with that." And then still fought me on it. This arrest lasted probably an hour, even though I was like, "Hey, man. Whatever y'all want to do, I'll go." At this point ... Man, this is like eight months after ... Maybe 10 months after Trevon Martin was murdered. So it was just ... I'm already ... I'm in Georgia, and I'm from here, but it's like ... Dude, I used to fucking own this town. I used to throw parties and I knew the mayor. And I'm just coming back from school. I'm not lying about having a drink. Yes, I did. But I was like, "Clearly I'm not ..." I watched my field sobriety test, I'm like "Man, I fucking ... Nailed those. I nailed it. This straight line? How many times do you want to do this? I will walk the fuck out of this line." And they were like, "You failed." I was like, "No problem."

Joseph Katz:
And you passed it. You passed.

Tone Bell:
And my mom works for the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

Joseph Katz:
And they still took you in?

Tone Bell:
They took me in. I spent 14, maybe 18 hours in jail. They impounded my car, all this kind of stuff. Even one of the guys in the office knew who I was, even the guy that processed me was like ... They tried to take my mugshot, and I turned my head because I was like, "Y'all are not going to make me look like fucking Lindsay Lohan out here." Because I smiled in my mugshot. I was like, "I'm not fucked up. I'm very sober." Let me tell you this: to do 14 hours, or however many hours I was in jail with a bunch of drunk people and you're sober is fucking brutal. Everybody else is getting great sleep-

Joseph Katz:
It's like, "Give me a drink."

Tone Bell:
And I'm sitting there sober like, "Goddamn. This sucks." But yeah, just even to hear the scuffle of compliance and then it doesn't mean anything ... It's hard to watch the shit, man.

Joseph Katz:
Yeah. Oh, my God, wow. It's interesting for people to hear your story. That's an interesting ... I'm glad you said that story, because I never heard about that with you. I don't know if people know about that, that it happened to you, so I'm glad you said that.

Tone Bell:
I got back to work, and I think that same director was like, "Are we ready to work?" I was like, "Well, nobody's going to ask me why I got arrested this weekend?" Because I posted my mugshot on Instagram.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, you did?

Tone Bell:
My agent was like, "Take this down." And I was like, "Maybe they think it was just a regular stop, but even years later, I'm like, "Nobody gave a fuck that I went to jail this weekend?"

Joseph Katz:
Like, can we have a moment?

Tone Bell:
Jail was the easiest part because ... I really didn't watch ... To be completely honest with you, I never have watched the DVD because my buddy from college was the ADA in the city, and knew the judge, and the judge's wife happened to like the show that I was on. And then, even re-watching the tape after what happened last year to George Floyd ... I re-watched my tape, and noticed things I had never seen before, of just how much they invoked, or tried to get me to resist, and I wasn't, but it was ... The scuffle with the end of the tape when they take me off camera is ... I put it on my Instagram. I put, leading in from a clip, and then going like ... I put it on my special, of what had happened, but here's the visual. It's tough to watch, man. It's difficult.

Joseph Katz:
Yeah, of course. Wow. I'm glad you said it, because it's good for people to really know, because we hear so much and we get inundated with stuff and then it's like ... It's good to just know what you went through in-

Tone Bell:
I mean, I'm on billboards at this point. You know what I mean? I'm doing interviews for TV, and I'm talking to E and Extra, and Entertainment Tonight, and all this kind of stuff, and then I go away for one weekend for a Comedy Central event, and get fucking locked up and who knows what else could have happened.

Joseph Katz:
Jeez. Was there publicity around it that you did? Or not really? It was quiet?

Tone Bell:
No. Yep. Yep.

Joseph Katz:
Yeah. Maybe they wanted to hide it.

Tone Bell:
I didn't end up getting a DUI and they let me go, but of course, the system's still got me because it cost me $17,000 to-

Joseph Katz:
It cost you $17,000?

Tone Bell:
$17,000 said and done, between lawyer fees and community service, and AA meetings, and all these classes and all this kind of stuff, permits, and ... I mean, because had I got charged with what they were trying to give me, in Georgia, I'd be a felon, and I wouldn't have been able to do Billie Holiday. Think about that. You can't work in Canada as a felon.

Joseph Katz:
Wow. And that's all because you had a drink, and you didn't do a blinker?

Tone Bell:
Put me in for a blinker, asked me if I had anything to drink. I was honest, and then ... Even watching the tape and seeing this cop un-holster was like, "Fuck, man, I never knew that in real time."

Joseph Katz:
Right, right. Wow.

Tone Bell:
Yeah, but he did.

Joseph Katz:
Wild. I guess that's ... You can draw on your darkness from all of those kinds of experiences, right?

Tone Bell:
I mean, I've got tons of dark experiences.

Joseph Katz:
Well, on a lighter note, talking about fashion ... Of course, we leave it until the very end, because you've got to save the best for last, but you talk about on Billie Holiday, how you put on that suit ... You put on that, and it gave you that feeling, right?

Tone Bell:
Yep.

Joseph Katz:
And fashion really does that. I feel like people ... It's an expression of yourself. I talk to a lot of people about that, and people work with stylists like myself to help them bring out that, but I feel like you kind of have your own vibe. I got pictures from your agent, which look super fashionable. Very chic in that little vest, and the white shirt, and the sneaker. Tell me about your style. What is your vibe? Is it-

Tone Bell:
You know what? I would define me as kind of a chameleon, because I don't have a ... I kind of just ... Whatever I'm feeling then. Whatever I'm feeling right now is kind of what I put on. I like a funky pair of slacks and I like to roll my sleeves up, and I like a blazer, a bow tie, suspenders. Then again, I like a nice, slim sweatsuit, and I like wearing a nice boot with a denim jacket. I like having a piece. Right now, I wear this denim jacket with a bunch of pins from places I've visited, and fans bring me pins to put on my jacket, so it's almost like a walking postcard, almost. So people get to ask me where these are from, and they're from all over the world. It's kind of how I feel in that moment.

Tone Bell:
I have a stand-up uniform. I don't know. I feel like I wear a suit just as well as I wear a sweatsuit, and when it comes to me bathing suits, I'm the European cut now, like a little higher. Show these thighs off, you know what I mean?

Joseph Katz:
Oh, you want to show, yeah. We saw some of that in Billie Holiday.

Tone Bell:
A little bit of that, a little bit that. A little bit of-

Joseph Katz:
Yeah, we saw a little bit from behind, yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). You shared some of that with us, Tone. Yes, you did.

Tone Bell:
I'm a big shoe guy, man. I like my sneakers and I like my boots. But yeah, I work with usually ... Quentin Thrash is my stylist for most stuff, and another dude, name of [Pujay 00:34:45], who's a frat brother of mine. You know what I love about a good stylist is when they know what they would do, but also know what you would do, and just kind of like ... "Now, I want to put out all this, but let's ... This is what I would do, but how much of this flare or ..." What do you call it now? "Bespoke kind of vibes of ... "How much dandy to you want to be?" Because even at the red carpet for Little, I still looked like I was doing Sylvie's Love, with the hair parted and the clean mustache, and I was like, "We have to lean into this look. There's nothing else I got." So we did a real slim turtleneck with a ... Oh, it was dope. It was super dope.

Joseph Katz:
Wow.

Tone Bell:
And so but I like doing stuff that doesn't look like I could pull it off.

Joseph Katz:
You push the limit a little bit.

Tone Bell:
Yeah.

Joseph Katz:
Yeah. I see you wear fitted a little bit more, which I actually like because I feel like guys sometimes go away from fitted because they're like, "Eh." They do the untucked shirt and make it a little bit loose because I want to be comfortable, but you can still be comfortable and have something fitting.

Tone Bell:
Yeah. Oh, yeah. I love a good, nice ... I wouldn't say tight, but tailored to ... I can only wear this. You know? It's fit for me. And luckily, man, I'm for the most part ... When I go to wardrobe, they love me because I'm pretty much ... What do you call it? Manequin size, or the-

Joseph Katz:
Oh, like ... Yeah, the model size, or the sample size, usually.

Tone Bell:
Sample size. I'm usually pretty sample size so it's very little tailoring to make it-

Joseph Katz:
Oh, that's great.

Tone Bell:
Yeah, they do a really good job with me, and it's usually super simple, but I have learned how to talk to wardrobe now to go, "I want to bring these up a little bit. Can you make this like a six and three-quarter inch cuff?" Through working with Trash and Pujay, I'm just ... What I'm comfortable with to ... This can't be too tailored because this guy isn't that put together, but he can't be shabby. I've been on stuff where I've just gotten stuff from Topman and tailored a little bit, and I'm wearing the same suit as another actor on the red carpet, but it looked totally different. Sometimes you don't want to wear the big names. You just want to go, "Look how fly I can make this.

Joseph Katz:
Right, right. You can just make it your own, really. What advice would you give to somebody that goes, "God, I like Tone's style. He's got a cool vibe. I see him on the red carpet, but I saw his standup special." What are some of the tips you would give?

Tone Bell:
I think you've just got to own it, man. The way you have confidence in your set, and what you deliver, and a punchline that you know is going to come, it's the same way ... I wouldn't do standup in a suit. I don't think doing standup in a suit works for me, but I do think, like for Steve Byrne, who kills a black suit with a white shirt and black tie ... That's his style. It looks great on Steve. But I think the way you're comfortable in your material and what you know you're going to deliver, it's like be ... I like to deliver to blue collar people, white collar comedy. I like to mix it up. It's like I'm not far removed from either. And so, I think you've got to be comfortable in your style.

Tone Bell:
If it's a slimmer jean, if it's a different kind of boot, it's ... I just got some Red Wing boots. I'm trying to break them in now because the leather's still like ...

Joseph Katz:
It's stiff, yeah.

Tone Bell:
I just wear them around the house until I can break them in, but yeah, I just-

Joseph Katz:
You're squeaking.

Tone Bell:
I think you've just got to be comfortable, and hey man, it's okay to try something. You've got to be gradual though. Don't be wearing all sweatsuits one day, and then next thing you know, every day you're wearing a tuxedo. That's ridiculous. Evolve.

Joseph Katz:
Yeah, take it easy. Take it easy.

Tone Bell:
Evolve a little bit.

Joseph Katz:
Yeah.

Tone Bell:
But yeah-

Joseph Katz:
What are some of your favorite brands? What do you love? I saw in one interview you wore [inaudible 00:38:38].

Tone Bell:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. That was from wardrobe. I like a lot of ... It depends on what style, but if I'm going to purchase, I love AllSaints a lot, just because I'm very casual. I like Kooples a lot.

Joseph Katz:
I could see you in like, Fear of God. Do you know Fear of God?

Tone Bell:
I do have some Fear of God stuff. I'm a big Adidas guy, but-

Joseph Katz:
It's a little pricey.

Tone Bell:
I wear Le Tigre and Elise, and ... I mean really, because I [inaudible 00:39:08] not to have to wear pants a lot. I want to wear sweats. If I'm not on, I'm casual. But I through my AllSaints jean and my jacket, and I'll through in an off-white hoodie, or one of these, or Le Tigre kind of throwback 80s stuff. A lot of stuff I wear now is stuff I couldn't afford growing up, so I'm just kind of going backwards in pleasing myself with shoes and clothes that [Val 00:39:31] and [Mike 00:39:31] couldn't afford.

Joseph Katz:
That's right. Why not? You deserve it. You get it. You've done the work for it, so ... Well, that's great. I like to know, because I like to give good advice about style, and I talk about it, but I like to hear from people that are on the carpet, or performing and all of that.

Tone Bell:
I've got buddies who do a lot of ... Like the bow tie you're wearing ... Who do ties and tie bars, and pins, and brooches, and pocket squares, and PSC pocket square company is some friends that ... Most red carpets I've ever hit where I'm wearing a tie and pocket square is from them. They do a wonderful job. I like supporting other dudes with dreams and who have come from nothing. So I mean, even my buddy Thrash who styles me a lot has got into home décor. Pillows and drapes. He just has a crazy, unbelievable sense of style.

Joseph Katz:
Wow, that's great. Yeah, these are actually my bow ties.

Tone Bell:
Oh, you have your own line of bow ties?

Joseph Katz:
Yeah. These are my own line, and so we make them bigger. I'll have to send you one-

Tone Bell:
Man, send me a bow tie.

Joseph Katz:
You can wear one time on the red carpet. I have all different kinds.

Tone Bell:
I love a funky bow tie.

Joseph Katz:
I love funky. I like a statement, a fun, bigger bow. These are about four inch bows, so they're bigger than your traditional, because traditional is a little smaller, but-

Tone Bell:
No, I like that.

Joseph Katz:
Yeah, thank you. Well, I've taken so much of your time. I want to ask you one very last question. I keep saying I take all your time and then I take more of your time.

Tone Bell:
No.

Joseph Katz:
See, it's a trick.

Tone Bell:
We got nothing but time. Look at this. This is why I brought my mason jar instead of a regular glass.

Joseph Katz:
Oh, that's right. My very last question to you is: what advice would you give someone ... Something that you haven't told anybody, but you think would help somebody else?

Tone Bell:
Well, just anybody? Not an actor, not a comedian?

Joseph Katz:
Yeah, just anybody. Would help anybody. It could be a kid in school, it could be a working adult, it could be an actor. Anybody. Something you haven't told anybody.

Tone Bell:
This is going to sound very mundane or minuscule, but I will say the way we live today and how much technology is out here, try it, but I turn off every notification on my phone. The only thing I get is phone calls and possibly text messages. But every app popping up, every notification ... I don't think it allows you to free your mind to live as much ... Because you're always doing this. I don't have a bunch of shit popping up on my phone all the time, so it doesn't break my concentration as much. It can be very scatterbrained. If you have Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and banking apps and games and all this kind of stuff ... If something's popping up ... Emails popping up on your phone all the time ... You're constantly looking down or trying to find out what's going on in here and you're missing a lot of out here.

Tone Bell:
So literally the only thing that comes through on my phone is a text message and phone calls. Everything else I have to go look for purposefully, but even now, I don't even know where my phone is. I have no idea. I plug it up and I leave it across the room and I'll check it in a couple hours, but I am not going to be a slave to my phone notification. Just so you don't forget how beautiful this is.

Joseph Katz:
Right.

Tone Bell:
I guess that's my advice.

Joseph Katz:
That's really good.

Tone Bell:
I know it's not funny, or whatever, but ...

Joseph Katz:
No, it's good. It's actually good because it does take us away from the moment of this, of connecting with somebody.

Tone Bell:
I mean, I don't even take my phone on set. People ... "You don't have a lot of behind the scenes photos." I'm like, "I leave my phone in my trailer." I don't take my phone on stage. I don't take it on set. It's very rare. If I have my phone on set, it was by accident. I probably just got a phone call and just had it with me, but I do not ... I live in the moment. I want to experience these people and get to know them, and that's everybody from the PAs to my costars. I don't let that be a distraction.

Joseph Katz:
I know it's so hard ... This is dating myself, but it's like when you ... Everybody is like, "Document everything that you do." Everybody wants you to document what you do. "I did this. I'm doing this, and now I'm posting it, and people are approving of it," and it becomes a whole cycle of ... It becomes bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and before you know it, that's all you're doing is staying on social.

Tone Bell:
A couple years ago I just went to my account on my Instagram being mostly just what I'm doing work-wise. I don't do a lot of my personal life on Instagram, just because I should have some sort of privacy. I'm not keeping me away from you to be a secret, it's ... I want to do stuff that I want to do, and you don't have to know about everything.

Joseph Katz:
But everybody wants to know.

Tone Bell:
If you want to know, I'll talk about it, but ask me a question, call me. But I don't have to put it out there so you're just like, "Oh, it's okay. Tone's alive." Call me. And I love having ... It maybe seems small, but I think it goes a long way.

Joseph Katz:
No, I think it does. I think that's great. Well, Tone, you have been fabulous. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Tone Bell:
I want that bow tie for real, though. Send me a bow tie.

Joseph Katz:
I will. I will. Yeah, no, I have a bunch of different ones, and I have some really funky big ones and they're fun for the carpet. You would look good in it.

Tone Bell:
I've only worn a bow tie a few times, but I like them. Yeah, I do dig them.

Joseph Katz:
Yeah. They'd look good on you, yeah. Wonderful, Tone. Thanks so much for being on the show.

Tone Bell:
Absolutely, man. Thank you all for having me.

Joseph Katz:
Thanks for listening to the Katz Walk. Make sure to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app. This has been a production of Evergreen Podcast. A special thank you to executive Producer Gerardo Orlando, Producer Leah Longbrake, and Audio Engineer Dave Douglas.

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