Na’im Lynn is a comedian, actor, and mental health advocate who is best known for his work with Kevin Hart (including a show on his Laugh Out Loud Radio), Tyler Perry’s Assisted Living and the Plastic Cup Boyz. Lately, Lynn has been making big entrepreneurial moves, adding franchise-owner to his already impressive résumé.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Lynn got his first dose of the spotlight around the age of three when he jumped on stage during his brother’s fashion show and stole it. Growing up, he loved comedy, and especially enjoyed watching Eddie Murphy, and later Martin Lawrence. Lynn learned how to make friends laugh at an early age, but took it a bit too far. He hadn’t quite mastered the art of being funny without insulting people.
Lynn attended Temple University, where he took to the stage again. “When I was in college, I was doing pretty well in school,” he says. “At some point I was like, ‘I need to tell jokes. I feel like I need to try this.’”
His first time performing was a 20-minute set at Temple in 1998. He received a standing ovation. The second didn’t go so well. “I bombed my second…I know with me and my personality at that time–easily embarrassed, I know that if I had bombed on that first show, I would not be doing what I do today.” He took a step back for six months then—thankfully—got back to it.
Big Connections Led to Big Breaks
Lynn and Kevin Hart were part of the Philadelphia comedy scene at the same time. They connected in 2001 when Hart hosted a comedy event. They later ended up bonding over video games, which led to Lynn offering to open for Hart whenever he needed an act. Hart accepted his offer, and took him under his wing.
“I was stinking it up at first, but it was a great space for me because he was trying to teach me to be more personal with my jokes,” Lynn says. “All my jokes were observational. He said, ‘You gotta be more personal. Go out there, I don’t care if you bomb, I just want you to work on this.’ and that’s how I started to become a stronger comedian. I have more perspective and more personal material. I had to take one step backwards in order to take two steps forward. And that is how our relationship began. And as his work increased, my work increased.”
Lynn’s relationship with Hart led to his lead role on Tyler Perry’s Assisted Living sitcom on BET.
“Tyler Perry is one of those guys who looks for diamonds in the rough,” he says. “And that’s exactly what I was, or what I am. He discovered me [when] he came to a show that Kevin [Hart] did in Atlanta and he watched me perform and he loved me. One of the girls that worked with him, who is on one of his shows, is my friend and she came up to me like, ‘Oh TP loves you. He thinks you’re funny as hell.’ And I was like, ‘Well go ‘head and tell him discover me then.’”
Soon, he found himself on Perry’s set. But he wasn’t done yet.
Franchising His Way to The Top
Lynn and Floyd Mayweather have long held mutual respect for each other; Lynn performed at the boxer’s 40th birthday party. So, the comedian was intrigued when he was scrolling on social media and saw Mayweather had created a franchise.
Lynn loves boxing, so a Mayweather Boxing + Fitness facility seemed like a perfect fit. He started the process last year. “Then COVID hit and put things on the backburner,” he says. Lynn’s first Mayweather Boxing + Fitness facility will open soon in LA at Porter Ranch. He wants to own six Mayweather Boxing + Fitness facility franchises. Lynn and his wife will share one and each have their own. He wants to open one for each of his parents as well. It’s a way to give back to his family and create generational wealth.
Financial self-awareness is something he’s had to learn. Growing up, Lynn’s mom had great credit and always paid bills on time. Because this was normal for her she never expressed how important it was to Lynn. “She thought I’d just get older and do what I was supposed to do and I did not. And when I finally started to make a lot of money, I lost a lot of money.” Lynn’s credit was too bad to finance things.
“To all the parents out there, we have to teach our kids about finances at an early age,” he advises. I was talking to one of my friends who’s a vice principal. We have Black History classes, but we need Black Future classes [too]. We are bad with money because most of us don’t come from money. When we get money the first thing we want to do is buy bullsh*t, and buy jewelry and cars. And I’ve done it all. But financial literacy is so important…and it’s something that needs to be taught at home. So, Black people, let’s please stay on top of the financial literacy and set our kids up to win.”
Keeping Mental Health at The Forefront
Lynn openly shares his struggle with his mental health and how he occasionally battles depression. He has found that focusing on the journey, and celebrating all of his wins along the way, helps him to stay at peace.
“If you don’t congratulate yourself along the way and celebrate the small victories, when you get to that ultimate goal, you’ll realize that you’ve been chasing a ghost,” Lynn says “That ultimate goal is not going to give you any satisfaction because you’re not going to get there and say ‘Alright, I’m done.’ Now you’re going to want more. And you’ll forever be wanting more and never take the time to say ‘I’m proud of me’. So, one of the ways that I’ve dealt with my mental health is to just congratulate myself and be proud of the things that I do.”
His daughter, Naledi, “the ultimate prize,” is an instant mood-booster who lends him perspective.
“I live to make other people happy,” Lynn says. “And just having someone that depends on me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is the ultimate prize. I get to live for someone every day. And that has done wonders for my mental health.”