A Conversation With Comedian Brad Williams
By J.T. Ryder
Born with Achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism), Brad Williams’ life has been filled with an acute awareness of the human condition and the differences that can separate us as individuals or bring us together in celebration of those differences. Instead of focusing on the negative aspect of these differences, Williams’ comedy seems to strive to bring us together through laughter.
Williams dropped out of the University of California to pursue his comedy/acting career. A chance encounter during one of Carlos Mencia’s live comedy performances and the rest, as they say, is history. Mencia brought Williams along to be his opening act on tour, then added Williams to the roster of guests appearing on his Comedy Central show, Mind of Mencia, where Williams has played many roles, including a dwarf whore (called a whorf).
I was able to interview Williams (via e-mail) as he entertained our troops overseas and was able to ask him about his perception of his comedy as well as his plans for the future.
DCP: I found something on the Internet that expands on the details of how you found yourself onstage with Carlos Mencia. In this version, Mencia had made some jokes about dwarves and everyone around you became uncomfortably silent, which drew his attention to you. Is this version true?
Brad Williams: Yes, that is true. It was an amazing night when you think about how that was the beginning of my comedy career because it summarizes the message of my act – that we can’t be offended and scared of difference.
DCP: Do you think that it is slightly ironic that people’s discomfort in dealing with your size was, for once, beneficial and was actually the catalyst that propelled you into the “big time”? (See what I did there?)
BW: I would if I hadn’t been dealing with it my whole life. People around me are always hyper-sensitive to small jokes and even language that references small things. I remember I was on a date one time with a woman who actually apologized to me because she ordered the strawberry shortcake.
DCP: How do you balance talking about people’s obvious fascination with your dwarfism with your more accessible observational humor?
BW: I obviously have to talk about my dwarfism onstage. If I didn’t, people would just stare at me in silence like, “Does he know?” So I address that, but I do it in a way that weaves into other jokes and my larger message. I don’t just go onstage and say “Hey! I’m tiny! I can take a bath in a thimble!”
DCP: Do you ever worry that the material pertaining to your dwarfism overshadows your other humor?
BW: It always will. It’s the most obvious thing about me, the thing people first notice, and the thing people are most fascinated about. It’s not like a fat comedian. Everyone knows fat people. So he or she can address their fatness and then quickly move on. People have questions about dwarfism. They want to know how I function in day-to-day life. That’s why there are so many dwarf reality shows because people are just curious about something they don’t know a lot about.
DCP: Do you find that Carlos gives you helpful tips to advance your own stage act?
BW: When I was touring with him, he did. I still call him up every now and then for advice. He is the guy who got me into the business, taught me the basics, then let me go on my own. We are still good friends. I can almost beat him in golf now. My short game is awesome. (See what I did there?)
DCP: Since you have been on such extensive tours, what is your Spınal Tap moment?
BW: Wow! So many stories … but to tie in directly to Spınal Tap, I would have to tell you about one night when we were doing a show in a really big theater that held about 1,800 people. Ironically enough, it was connected to a smaller theater that held about 900 people. I was told my set was coming up so I ran off the bus and into the theater only to find myself in an empty theater wondering what the hell happened. I barely made my set but yeah they all called me “Nigel” for a week after that.
DCP: What other opportunities has traveling given you, such as meeting people or going places, that you never thought you would have had the opportunity to do before?
BW: Well I’m writing this e-mail from my room in Qatar in the Middle East. I’m currently touring over here doing shows for the troops and I have been to UAE, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Needless to say, I would never have the opportunity to visit these countries and experience all our armed forces are doing if I wasn’t a comedian. I am truly blessed and honored to be performing for the troops and being able to tell them how thankful we all are for what they are doing.
DCP: Where do you see the direction of your career going? Would you rather concentrate on television, further your stand-up career or delve more into movies?
BW: I’m a stand-up comedian. I’ve done movies and television, and they just don’t give you the same rush as a live audience. The only reason why I want to keep doing TV and movies is just so I can sell more tickets and do more stand-up. I love the job and the lifestyle and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Brad will be performing at the Dayton Funny Bone, located at 88 Plum St. at the Greene, from December 2 through December 5. Tickets range from $15 to $17. For more information, or to make reservations, call the Bone Phone at (937) 429-5233 or go online to www.daytonfunnybone.com. To learn more about Brad Williams, go online to his website at www.bradwilliamscomedy.com or look him up on Facebook at www.facebook.com/funnybrad.
Reach DCP freelance writer J.T. Ryder at firstname.lastname@example.org