By Ryan Meehan
Since getting his start in his hometown of Nashville, TN, Billy Wayne Davis has performed in virtually every corner of the United States. He has appeared on TruTV and written for NFL on FOX. His festival credits include the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival, Bumbershoot, and Sketchfest in San Francisco. His self-titled Rooftop Records release was featured on Sirius XM and named one of Paste Magazine’s Top Ten comedy albums of 2012. Billy Wayne currently resides in Los Angeles, and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What’s the biggest cultural difference between Nashville, Tennessee and Seattle, Washington? What was the reasoning behind your decision to relocate to the Pacific Northwest?
BWD: I’d say the biggest cultural difference is the port. Nashville doesn’t have the world view that Seattle has because its economy doesn’t depend on it. Seattle is much more progressive socially and politically than Nashville because its lively hood depends on it. I relocated to Seattle because I met a woman in South Florida, who asked me to move with her to Seattle. We’d been dating for almost 2 months, I’d never been west of Texas, Seattle had a great comedy scene and it seemed like the right thing to do. (She would later become my ex-wife.)
RM: Your Zanies profile describes you as “The Thinking Man’s Hillbilly”…Would you say that’s an accurate description of the way audiences view your comedy? On a scale of one to ten, how much of a hillbilly would you consider yourself to be and why?
BWD: That’s an old bio that I paid a friend to write. I’d say in a lot of the country, that is how they see me. My accent and name give way to certain preconceived notions, but in reality, I’d say I’m probably a 3 or 4 real hillbilly. I could take and introduce you to some bona fide hillbillies, if they’d let us on their property without some kind of armed exchange.
RM: What’s the biggest challenge that stand-up comedy presents to you as a writer? Do you think that the answer to that question may change later on in your career?
BWD: The biggest challenge in stand-up is cutting out all the words you don’t need to get to your point. Whereas in writing stories, columns, essays, etc…you need to use more words to paint a certain picture of what’s happening exactly. I don’t think that answer with change drastically as I get older. Its fundamental to the style of standup I prefer.
RM: You’ve been a guest on several different podcasts including “Keith and the Girl” and “WTF with Marc Maron”…What is it about your style of humor that seems to be so adaptable to the podcast format? Could ever see yourself producing a weekly podcast all by yourself?
BWD: I’m, on a base level, a storyteller more than a joke teller. I think the storytelling style is more adaptable to the conversation style that most podcasts have been based. (What an asshole of a sentence)
I just pitched a couple weekly conversion type shows to SiriusXM. That would be the way I’d want to go rather than the podcast format. I like doing things live with instant interaction with a crowd.
RM: Which other comedy writers did you work with when you wrote for the NFL on FOX? Out of that whole group of people, who did you seem to really connect with when it came to the comedic vision you guys were trying to put forth?
BWD: Hmmmm. That was a very quick job, I got that gig through Rob Riggle. He was planning on doing more stand up and I was going to help him put a new hour together but he got that gig, a bunch of movie roles and had to put stand up on hold. He gave FOX my name, and I sent them jokes and premises from the road for a couple weeks. Then they cut their staff down to a couple guys and I didn’t make the cut. I enjoyed writing for Rob and the NFL but didn’t meet anyone because I was constantly on the road at that time.
RM: I see that you got to work with the late Mitch Hedberg before he passed away…What do you remember most about your interaction with him; and what was the coolest part of that whole experience for you?
BWD: I remember, how kind he was to every human he encountered. He was an artist, and looking back it was important for me to see someone doing it their way and being rewarded for it. It’s one of the few times, I’ve met one of my heroes, and it went better than I imagined. The coolest part was “partying” with Mitch and just a couple other people in a closed bar in Printer’s Alley in Nashville until the sun came up, like a god damn rock star from the 70’s. If you ever want to hear about the whole 2 days, bring me a blunt of sativa after a show, and we’ll chat.
RM: Do you think that being funny is something that you have to be born with, or something that can be taught? Have you ever taken any sort of instructional classes that have allowed you to perfect your craft?
BWD: I think it’s like any other talent, you are born with a certain natural ability and understanding, then you have to hone it. I’ve never taken a “comedy class,” but I did major in communications, which helped me understand, early in my career, how to approach an audience.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
BWD: I’m working on my first set for Conan. And I’ll be submitting for the Half Hour’s on Comedy Central, (Both of those have been dreams of mine since I can remember. Keep your fingers crossed.) I’m starting to act more which is exciting and challenging. I’m writing and pitching some television shows, but I’ll never stop doing stand up. That’s my bottom bitch. OHHHH, I’d also love to play the lead in any of the big screen adaptations of Iceberg Slim’s novels.
Official Website: http://billywaynedavis.tumblr.com
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