Comedian and actor Donnell Rawlings is a television and stand-up comedy veteran. Donnell Rawlings was the iconic “Chappelle’s Show” character Ashy Larry, along with other memorable characters from the show. But aside from his career accolades, one of Donnell’s biggest accomplishments is being a good father. In fact, Donnell is part of the new TLC show, “Project Dad” produced by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, which showcases his newfound fatherhood experiences. Comedy Hype caught up with Donnell Rawlings to talk about fatherhood, his career, touring with Dave Chappelle and his plans for the future.
By Corey Tate
CH: You’re currently part of the new TLC show, “Project Dad”. What sparked your interest in being part of the show?
DR: I needed a check. [Laughs]. No, but on a serious note, “Project Dad” was an opportunity to show the trials and tribulations of being a dad. I think if my cast-mates and I can step up to the plate and convey how to get through these seemingly-tough things; it’ll inspire and empower fathers to be more present in their kids’ lives.
CH: How has being a father influenced your stand-up material?
DR: Being a dad has taken my material to the next level. Not only for me, but also for my audience. My material is more mature and more relatable now. I still do jokes about race, politics and other topical issues, but audiences tend enjoy my family material the most. Overall, I think being a father has given me more depth as a comic.
CH: Speaking of stand-up, you’re currently on tour with Dave Chappelle. What is the most fun part of being on tour with Dave?
DR: Dave Chappelle is one of the greatest comics to ever do stand-up, so it’s an honor to tour with him. Also, Dave is the kind of person who pushes you to be your very best every night. When I watch Dave on stage, he inspires and motivates me to bring my A-game. Also, when it comes time for my introduction, the audiences show me so much love. It’s one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever felt.
CH: You were part of the legendary show, “Chappelle’s Show”. “Chappelle’s Show” was known for its bold point of view on current events. If the show were still on-air, what current events would you like to have done sketches about?
DR: If “Chappelle’s Show” was still on-air, we’d do an entire season based on Donald Trump [Laughs]. Everything he says and does is material. People always tell me to stay away from talking about money and politics, but with all the madness going on, you have to say something about it.
As an artist, I feel that it’d be an injustice to myself and others, if I didn’t speak my mind. I think all artists who want to make good art feel the same way. So, if “Chappelle’s Show” was still on-air, we’d have 4 years of funny material.
CH: Being that “Chappelle’s Show” isn’t currently on-air, do you think releasing a new stand-up special would be a good way to vent about these things?
DR: There are definitely plans to do a new stand-up special. A lot has happened in the world since my last special, “From Ashy To Classy”. I also want to talk about my recent life experiences, such as becoming a dad. So, right now I’m focusing on getting my material tight and precise because I want it to be perfect. I’m aiming to release a new special close to the end of the year.
CH: Are there any other projects that you’re working on, that your fans should be looking forward to?
DR: I do have some really exciting things on the way, but I can’t talk about them just yet. But as previously mentioned, I’m on tour with Dave Chappelle and I’m also doing a hefty number of show dates on my own. All of the dates are listed on my website. Also, watch “Project Dad” on TLC. I think it’s a really good show with a significant amount of insight on what fatherhood is like.
You can catch Donnell Rawlings on TLC’s “Project Dad” every Thursday at 5pm ET and find his tour dates HERE.
By Corey Tate