Usually when you see Mike Epps on TV, he’s telling jokes and funny stories. So, why is the comedian from Indy turning up on a TV network where hammers are more likely to fly than the jokes?
It’s because the new HGTV show “Buying Back The Block” tells the story of Mike and his wife Kyra literally buying the block in the Kennedy-King neighborhood in Indianapolis where Mike grew up. They bought six homes, some of which Mike lived in when he was young, and two of which he and his family were evicted from. “Those couple made it. I can feel all of it. It takes two,” Epps said.
I spoke to Mike and Kyra Epps Wednesday night at a premiere party for the new show, held in downtown Indianapolis. What does it feel like to be able to buy a place that you were once kicked out of? “It feels exhilarating. It feels refreshing, it clears my sinuses. I can breathe better now,” Mike Epps jokes, before getting serious. “To be able to come back and buy our old house that you grew up in, and to walk around it and remember some of the things that were there. I'm walking around some of them houses like looking at the register like ‘this is the register that was here..”
The Epps have renovated some of the homes already. They live in one of them. And they're in the process of renovating the rest. Kyra Epps says there are a lot of reason ro the project. “First of all, just to piggyback up on what Mike just said about going back to his hometown buying the house that he grew up in, it's really interesting, because my kids are now in the same house. Right? So now this is three, four generations on the same block. You know, experiencing holidays and memories together and building together. So, buying back the block is more than real estate. It's more than design. It's about legacy. It's about community. It's about home ownership. There is a plethora of things that I can say right now. But you know, it's about love ultimately, and our kids got to watch us build this house, these houses brick by brick. And so, it's about hard work and dedication as well.
One of the houses being renovated was the house where Mike Epps’ grandmother lived. And it's something he documents in a special way, writing her name on a wooden beam. “I wrote my grandmother's name on the wall. So it'd be there for another 100 years. That was her first house. Unfortunately, I lost my grandmother, maybe three, four years ago. And, you know, it was sad and beautiful and warm. At the same time. You know, a lot of heart was involved in it. My grandmother really worked hard to build that house, you know, to build it to what it is for kids in a legacy. And it just felt good man. You know, I really did. It was natural.”
Mike Epps still towards the world doing standup. That isn't going to stop. But even though he probably never thought he'd be carrying a shovel and a saw on TV instead of a microphone, he says he always knew his life would come back to his home city. “Indianapolis is where I started at. And, you know, one day when I get older, hopefully I'll want to finish here. You know, it's been a great town and like my wife said, man, it's all about us building a legacy for our children and leaving something for them, you know, and and the city, leaving a legacy for the city and the children in the city.”
Comedian Mike Epps and wife Kyra Epps are the creators and hosts of “Buying Back The Block.” Information is available at hgtv.com.