Stand-up comic Tommy Davidson says he owes much to 'In Living Color'

Contributing Culture WriterNovember 8, 2013 

  • IF YOU GO

    Tommy Davidson with T.C. Cope

    When: 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9.

    Where: Comedy Off Broadway, The Mall at Lexington Green, 161 Lexington Green Cir.

    Tickets: $20 on Nov. 8, $23 on Nov. 9. Available at (859) 271-5653 or Comedyoffbroadway.com.

The hit 1990s sketch comedy show In Living Color has certainly left its stamp on pop culture.

Some will point to the fact that it was one of the first popular sketch comedy shows with a predominantly black ensemble. A few mark it as probably the first place anyone saw Jennifer Lopez or future Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba, both of whom were part of the Fly Girls dance troupe.

Others remember it as a springboard for comedic stars Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, David Alan Grier and a whole lot of guys and girls with the last name Wayans.

Stand-up comic, actor and In Living Color alumnus Tommy Davidson certainly agrees that the show left a lasting impression, but for a much simpler reason.

"It was just actually funny," said Davidson, who will be at Comedy Off Broadway in Lexington this weekend. "You didn't need a laugh track."

Davidson was one of the performers whose career benefited greatly from the show. The comedian, 49, was making a name for himself in Washington, D.C.'s stand-up scene and trying to catch a break, and In Living Color gave him that — and then some.

The '90s through the early 2000s found Davidson in starring roles and guest appearances in the films Strictly Business with Halle Berry, Ace Ventura II: When Nature Calls with Jim Carrey, Booty Call with Jamie Foxx and director Spike Lee's Bamboozled.

"I had a good act, but I couldn't break through to TV," he said about his career before In Living Color. "Overnight, it basically went from trying to doing."

Throughout his career, instead of taking a break from stand-up comedy to focus on acting, Davidson has made it a point to keep his stage skills sharp.

"Stand-up is easy to stop doing because it's kind of hard to do," he said. "It's kind of like a refined skill."

A stand-up comedian with a knack for physical humor, Davidson also knows how to do a spot-on impression. He tends to focus on nailing a few good impersonations instead of just trying to mimic anyone who's popular. His early impressions include longtime idol Sammy Davis Jr. and Michael Jackson, but he has added President Barack Obama to his arsenal, which you can hear both onstage and in his voicemail greeting.

Davidson does stand-up comedy year-round, but he also has current and prospective projects. He's striving to make his dream project: a biopic made on Davis, based on the 2008 biography Deconstructing Sammy, in which he would star as the iconic entertainer.

He can currently be heard on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup as the voice of the character Cream Corn in the animated series Black Dynamite. Whether it's through his work onstage or on screen, Davidson is grateful for being in demand more than two decades after he was introduced to the masses.

"A large part of what makes me a little more motivated is when someone wants you on their project," he said. "You got what people want."


IF YOU GO

Tommy Davidson with T.C. Cope

When: 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9.

Where: Comedy Off Broadway, The Mall at Lexington Green, 161 Lexington Green Cir.

Tickets: $20 on Nov. 8, $23 on Nov. 9. Available at (859) 271-5653 or Comedyoffbroadway.com.

Blake Hannon is a Mount Sterling-based writer.

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