With a new season of MTV2’s Joking Off on the way, Comedy Hype caught up with host DeRay Davis (On the left with The Game). In our talk with DeRay he goes on to touch on rumors of him touring with fellow Chicago natives Deon Cole & Corey Holcomb. Before DeRay became a household name he was known Chicago talent who brushed shoulder with Kanye West during his come up, which DeRay hinted that Kanye has always been himself since those early days.
CH: Chicago comedians are having a big year, from Hannibal Buress to yourself, Lil Rel, Deon Cole, And Corey Holcomb. What about the city produces great comedy talent?
DD: I think it always has been a hub for people to actually come through and test their talent. It’s not east coast or west coast, we’re right in the middle of the madness. With everything going on (killings) and to have to find something humorist amongst that is not the easiest thing. If you can make it in Chicago, that is big. It’s time (for comedy) with Chicago overshadowed with so much negativity, gangs, and calling it Chi-Raq. I think it’s huge to shed some type of light out there. So comedically if we can give some type of balance from what we do, is huge!
CH: You mention Chi-Raq, did you have a problem with Director Spike Lee making a film and popularizing ‘Chi-Raq’
DD: For anyone that bashes Spike has definitely not seen his messages in his movies before. If you’re talking about personally using the name, I don’t. No one got mad at him when he made Son Of Sam, no one got mad when he made Crooklyn. He finds way to make stuff comfortable on things America doesn’t want to see. So if him calling it Chi-Raq brings more attention to it and people are starting to get outraged then I think it’s a good thing. As far as personally using ‘Chi-Raq’, I don’t like the name because we are still in the middle of it. A few years from now I might be like “It don’t really matter to me”, but right now it’s still really bad (Chi-Raq). You got to respect Spike’s art because nobody else would have spent their money to bring attention to it. I remember all the messages in Spike’s movies and it made me want to keep pushing forward in film and being an actor myself.
CH: Earlier this year there was talks of you possibly touring with Deon Cole, and Corey Holcomb for a Chicago comedy super tour, any updates?
DD: Yes, we discussed it. If you want a strong tour it’s about forming Vol-Tron, and creating it. And showing the world that we are able to do it. I don’t think its a financial issue right now but everyone has their own thing and goals that as of right now it wouldn’t be best to tour. It’s definitely something I see that would be huge. Especially touring with your peers and people you look up to at the same time. I’m excited about the thought. That’s why I’m the one who’s been posting about going on tour, that’s me being the promoter I am. (Laughs) I’ve been booking shows for 14 years, from Monique to John Witherspoon. So I like the business side, me pushing the tour is just me brainstorming saying hey we need to jump on tour while we’re hot.
CH: Going in to a new season of Joikng Off, and even Wild N Out. How are things moving forward?
DD: This is our second season. I’m happy because MTV2 listens. You get a lot networks who don’t. MTV2 listens wether it be from the hood to the good. They want to know what you think creatively. Wild N’ Out is becoming the biggest show, that’s becoming a platform for a lot of comedians to blow up. Maybe Nick Cannon can look at my show and say “Hey I want that kid on Wild N Out” , and Charlemagne can say “Hey I want that kid to come on ‘Uncommon Sense’. I like that it’s a family of funny. This time around I got some crazy people on the show, I’m not just saying that. Now these comics don’t care but I’ve become friends with some of the people that we joke about on the show. Like Amber Rose, such a sweet lady, but her picture might pop up and you don’t know what those guys might say. I might run into Amber somewhere, and they’re not going to say the comedians said it, they’re going to be like “DeRay that’s your sh*t.” Now I take full responsibility for the roast unless it leads to some gangster shit then they are on their own.
CH: Now before your career fully took off, how was it coming up in Chicago during the early days of Kanye West?
DD: Kanye has always been strong when it came to him wanting to perform, and to show the world what he was capable of doing. I remember when I was in Miami and started working with Def Squad and Kanye called me and said “Yo I heard you got a deal, congrats, but I need to spit”. And the n*gga just started rapping, he rapped for like 130 bars. (Laughs) I knew right then that something was going to pop. If nothing I knew he was going to build his own empire like some P Diddy sh*t, which he ended up doing any way. I was just looking at some old footage of his Glow In The Dark Tour. I got footage of everybody clowning man from Pharrell to Busta Rhymes, Lupe Fiasco. Everybody was in a great mood and Kanye was in a great place. He treated us well, you would have thought I had songs or albums out, the way he took care of everybody, and that’s huge.
CH: Wild N’ Out is helping introduce a new group of comedians much more like Def Comedy Jam, would you agree with the comparison?
DD: I would never compare Wild N’ Out to Def Comedy Jam because Def Jam is you standing on your own and you go out there and you got to come with it. It’s (Wild N’ Out) is more like Who’s Line Is It Anyway meets Hip-Hop, and you have to be funny. All the shows from Wild N’ Out and Joking Off, you just got to have whit. I think that’s more important. Ain’t that to much you can work on for Wild N’ Out that will make you ready. I’m the kind of dude, when I’m on the spot is when I’m feeling the best. It just gives a platform of funny, you get to see what someones strength is. Katt Williams showed his strength, Affion showed his strength, you knew what it was. Nick knows how to throw you an alley-oop and you’re going to catch it because that’s your sh*t. I would never compare it to Def Jam. Def Jam was Def Jam.
CH: There’s a big debate right now on cell phones in comedy clubs, Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart have showed there concern, your thoughts?
DD: I can see what Kevin Hart, Dave Chappelle have a problem with if there getting ready to shoot their specials. They don’t want to put out content. That’s like someone leaking your album. You don’t want nobody “Periscoping” your sh*t, you’re creating an album. You don’t want nobody cutting it up, mixing it, you want it right. But for comics like myself who are used to roasting people I love the ability to turn the camera on. “Periscope me roasting this guy”, because it might not happen again. Now when I get into to my material I’m like cut it off, because I might go to another city and I don’t want them to have seen my jokes already. If it gets out there and goes viral next week, I might be able to do that sh*t.
CH: You been filming Living With Funny produced by Brandon T. Jackson, how has that been going?
DD: It’s a behind the scenes of funny. It’s good we got some strong comics on there, Lavell Crawford, Michael Blackson, Brandon T Jackson, and me. It’s our lives but it’s highlighted. This is my life, so I’m not Love and hip-hoping or choking nobody out. (Laughs)
CH: With all that you have lined up, what are some goals you look to soon accomplish?
DD: If you’re creative be creative. All these guys who watch our Def Comedy Jam sets and go make a vine/Instagram of it, “that needs to stop”. We need to figure a way that you get the writing credit for your ideas. Someone can put your stuff on Instagram, and for people who never seen your set it will look like the person who posted came up with the joke. That’s some weak minded & non-creative thing. All the people that are creatively doing it I love them, from King Bach to King Keraun. Those guys are really on it. My thing is how do we get more credit from our jokes because we’re authors, authors of our own identity. That would be my move, that we get credited for the things we produce, that’s our kids our seed, our children. I want to raise my own kid.
Secondly, my next goal is to be a bilingual-comic. I know I’m one of the best on this level. I know I’m great at freestyle comedy but if you put me in front of some Spanish people they’re not going to understand sh*t. You put me in front of some French people, they’re not going to understand sh*t. I want to be able to deliver the same kind of strength, getting standing ovations without a subtitle. I want to get some of them French groupies (Laughs). I’m on it though, trust me.
A new episode of Joking Off airs tonight at 11:30PM EST apart of MTV2’s line-up of comedy.