Jailhouse visits are not uncommon, but Bell County inmates had a "funny" visitor recently - and his stop will be the subject of a television special on Comedy Central of all places.
"Thank y'all for being here. Now, it's not like y'all had a choice," Ali Siddiq said to kick off his show at the Bell County Jail.
Siddiq is a Houston native and stand-up comic. But, before his dive into show business, he was a criminal.
He served 6 years in a Texas prison beginning when he was 19 years old.
"So, I kinda like grew up there basically," Siddiq added.
Fast forward to 2018 and he made the choice to go back...
"I came up in a Texas prison with Texas people," Siddiq said. But he wanted his return to a Texas prison to be full of laughter.
"It's extremely humbling to be a part of that type of movement... where they're saying hey, we know you are incarcerated, we know you may have made your mistakes, but we're here to help you gather yourself and get on with it... and just in case you don't think you can, here's one that did," Siddiq added.
Comedy Central reached out to Bell County authorities after a successful recording of another special in Brazos County.
"Of course, when we first were made aware of this, red flags go up. Well, what do they really want to do?" Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange said.
Inmates who displayed good behavior and kept their cell clean were allowed to attend Siddiq's show.
"We do like to let them know that they're human beings and that's the way we want to treat them... and like I said, laughter. Everybody needs laughter," Byron Shelton, the Bell County Jail Administrator, said.
Siddiq said the visit back to a Texas jail was like returning to an old campus... familiar but different.
"It was very surreal to walk on the other side of the wall, be on the other side of the cells," Siddiq said.
And that's exactly what his material was centered around... life in jail.
"The standup was just the entertainment, but the message in it is the sit-down conversations that I had with them," Siddiq added.
The Comedy Central special called "It's Bigger Than These Bars" will air on Feb. 23 at 10 p.m. local time.
WARNING: Some of the material and language isn't appropriate for some audiences.
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