comedy

Damon Williams returns to the Dayton Funny Bone

By Joey Ferber

Photo: Damon Williams brings his ‘hurt-your-face funny’ to the Dayton Funny Bone, Feb. 23-26

Damon Williams will make your cheeks hurt. Over his 20-plus years of doing stand-up, the Chicago native has crafted a unique brand of comedy that is sure to have audiences laughing as they leave the club—and perhaps for weeks after. Dayton City Paper recently had the chance to speak with Williams about his upcoming show at the Dayton Funny Bone, the influence of Eddie Murphy on his work, and what makes a great joke.

“The thing about my stand-up is that it’s topical,” Williams says. “Some of it is personal, and some of it is interactive. Typically, weeks later after my shows, people will post their particular favorite joke—or activity that takes place because it’s also physical comedy that I do. My brand of comedy, or my goal, is to hurt your face. That came about literally from going to an Eddie Murphy show concert in the late ’80s as a consumer, not even thinking about doing stand-up, and I remember leaving with my face in pain, and my calves were tight. So I try to live up to that standard. So that’s like my hashtag—hurt-your-face funny.”

While Williams may leave your cheeks in need of ice, his experience on stage has given him a mastery of humor sensitive to the needs of his audience.

“I’ve learned, and this came about when I was being roasted once, what it’s like to have everyone’s focus on you and have everyone laughing at you,” Williams says. “It can be uncomfortable for people. So I try to avoid singling out people.”

Even if Williams does initiate interaction with an audience member, he tries to make sure they are able to laugh at themselves, too.

“I don’t pick on people because everybody should leave that venue with a pleasant experience,” he says.

Playing for audiences around the country has helped Williams tune his material to socially conscious topics that make people aware but don’t embarrass them.

“That’s one of peoples biggest concerns—is being embarrassed,” Williams says. “Especially an urban audience. Black folks don’t really like to be talked about. In fact, I got a routine—you look at the front, black audience members don’t like to come to the front because they don’t wanna be talked about. And I’d say we’d rather get stabbed than talked about. And so it can be very uncomfortable. And sometimes it can even backfire.”

Williams stresses the importance of fine-tuning his approach to comedy to keep everyone laughing.

“I’m not the type to do the comparison bit,” he says. “White people, ya’ll have good pets—we have raggedy dogs. You know, I don’t do that type of material. I feel like its passé, and it’s not even true at this point in life. I just try to do material that the room full of people will laugh at, and it doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is.”

“A great joke,” Williams advises, “should have a general across the board relatability…A good joke makes everyone laugh. If you’re in a room with a Trump supporter, a Hillary supporter, a Bernie supporter, and a neo-Nazi, and a nation of Islam member, they should all laugh.”

While Williams is busy with his stand-up act, he’s also hard at work on other projects.

“I have a weekly feature on the Tom Joyner Morning Show,” he says, “and it’s called ‘Seriously Ignorant News.’ It’s about stupid criminals and people who do dumb things to end up in my report.”

Williams is also finishing up several films, including “Not Another Black Boy,” starring himself and Janet Hubert of Fresh Prince fame, and ‘Seventh Heaven,’ in which Williams plays the lead. He is currently compiling material for his one-hour special, “Laugh Tonight, Be Serious Tomorrow.”

On performing in Dayton, Williams adds, “I had a great time the last time I was at the Dayton Funny Bone, and I’m looking forward to the return.”

Williams performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 23-26 with additional shows at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25 at the Dayton Funny Bone, 88 Plum St. Ste. 200 at The Greene in Dayton. General admission is $15. For more information, please visit DaytonFunnyBone.com.comedy

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Joey Ferber works out of St. Louis and Dayton as a musician and writer. You can hear him on electric guitar with St. Louis jazz-rap collective LOOPRAT at Looprat.Bandcamp.com and on his original theme song for the Dayton-based podcast series Unwritten at UnwrittenPodcast.com, for which he also contributed to as a scriptwriter. Reach him at JoeyFerber@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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