James Davis: "I Feel Comedy Is the Best Vessel for Me to Follow My Dreams"

Categories: Comedy
"I've always been interested in arts and performing, as well as acting," says comedian James Davis, who is perhaps best known from MTV2's Wild 'N Out with Nick Cannon. "I've been doing acting on and off for a while, and I've always had funny friends and family members with a good sense of humor. I think that organically rubbed off on me. When I was pursuing acting early on, I went onstage to tell jokes just as way to keep on performing between auditions. I fell in love with the craft."

He found that first open mic in a rather interesting fashion. "I responded to an ad on Craigslist to perform at the world famous Comedy Store," he says. "I remember a lot of my favorite actors that I liked to watch in film and on television had a standup background, so I told myself, 'Let's try it. If I'm bad, I won't do it anymore. If I'm good, I'll see where it takes me.' So far, it's gotten me to Minneapolis," he adds with a laugh.

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Comedians Fight Sexual Violence with Take Back the Mic! Benefit

Categories: Comedy
L-R: Tracey Ashley, Jenn Schaal, Aparna Nancherla
Benefit parties don't always sound like like a lot of fun. However, instead of planning a stuffy black-tie affair with a silent auction, local comedian Jenn Schaal has invited two comedians from out of state to the Twin Cities for Take Back the Mic! Stand Up Against Sexual Violence.

Schaal and some of her cohorts began putting together the show after dealing with the unsettling conclusion to a sexual assault trial that involved a staff member at Rick Bronson's House of Comedy and a touring comedian.

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Keegan-Michael Key: "I Think That Key & Peele in Its Current Form Has Kind of Run Its Course"

Categories: Comedy
In the post-Chappelle's Show era of sketch comedy, it's hard to argue that there has been a more influential TV show than Key & Peele

Currently in its fourth season, the Peabody Award-winning show on Comedy Central is equal parts insanely funny and culturally important. The duo have played black Republicans, white face-wearing black men in Nazi Germany, and two guys who have no problem calling their wives "bitch" -- as long as they aren't around and can't hear what they're talking about. Needless to say, the show doesn't exactly limit itself. 

This week, one half of the Key & Peele phenomenon, Keegan-Michael Key, joins John Moe and musical guest Bhi Bhiman as the featured guest of Wits. Before he takes the stage, we talked with Key about sketch comedy, his ventures into feature films, and how we might be seeing the end of Key & Peele sooner than we think.

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Standup Josh Wolf on College, Flatulence

Categories: Comedy
Comedian Josh Wolf isn't sure he was what you would call a funny kid. "I had been told a bunch of times by my dad that I was a wise-ass," he recalls, "and all my teachers would say to me all the time, 'What are you, a comedian?'" Indeed, he did his first standup set at the age of 15.

When he arrived at the comedy club for his very first set, he asked what he should talk about onstage. The show's organizer told him to talk about what he knew.

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Comedian Gary Gulman: "It's So Difficult to Pull Off Political Humor Without Being Preachy"

Categories: Comedy
The last time we spoke to comedian Gary Gulman, he told us he was trying to get more famous in order to secure more show dates outside of the East Coast. "There's just not that much demand for me. But I'm trying to get more famous, so hopefully that will change," he said.

The strange thing is that plenty of people know who Gary Gulman is. From Last Comic Standing to his latest special, In This Economy, Gulman has built a solid fanbase. "Based on the fact that I always have people yelling requests at the end of the show, I guess that people are familiar with my work," he says.

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W. Kamau Bell: "I Need to Prove I'm Funny"

Categories: Comedy
Matthias Clamer
It was one year ago this week that W. Kamau Bell's late-night talk show, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, aired its final episode on FXX. Since that day, Bell says there's one question fans ask him more than any other.

"People ask me when I'm going to be on TV again," he says during a phone call from his home in San Francisco. "But the thing is, it hasn't even been a year since my last show ended. Let me recover from the crippling depression of losing that one first."

While his tone implies that he's at least partially joking, Bell hasn't let his exodus from television slow him down. With a successful podcast, a packed touring schedule, and a brand-new baby, the comedian is busier than ever. 

This week, he brings his Oh, Everything! Tour to the Turf Club for his first Twin Cities performance in his post-Biased life. Before his visit this Friday, we caught up with the sociopolitical standup to talk about comedy, the late night landscape, and why he isn't afraid of Ebola.

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Andrew Schulz on Guy Code, Partying with Rihanna

Categories: Comedy
Fans of basic cable comedy programming may recognize comedian Andrew Schulz from MTV2's Guy Code. It was the show's producers that first approached him, even before they had the idea for the program.

"I was doing standup in New York, and I guess they saw a video of me performing and things went from there," he explains. "The talent person from MTV saw me, we had a meeting, and I basically told her, 'I'm like the guy's perspective. I talk about what we go through, and explain to women what it's like to be a guy.' All of sudden, this show came up called Guy Code, and they were auditioning for it, so she recommended me."

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Adam Newman: From Rock Star to Standup Comedian

Categories: Comedy
Adam Newman has had success as both a comedian and a rock star. The New Hampshire native received a guitar for his 15th birthday, a few months before his family moved to Atlanta, a relocation he was less than pleased with. "I was furious with my parents," he states. "I was happy in New Hampshire. I literally knew everyone in my school. I was friends with everybody, and played on some of the sports teams. My school had 100 kids in it, so you could play any sport you wanted."

In Atlanta, he wound up in a much larger school. "It was a complete culture shock, just moving from New England to the South, and then in addition to that the school was so much bigger. And it was the middle of high school, and everyone already knew each other. I wasn't good enough to play on any of the teams, so in high school I started playing guitar." With few people to hang out with, Newman became quite good at it.

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Anthony Jeselnik on Postponing His Standup Special and Crying During The Office

Categories: Comedy
"There are only so many dead baby jokes in the world," says comedian Anthony Jeselnik. That includes the closing joke on his last album, Caligula, about Casey Anthony.

You may know him as the smug, ruthless-yet-dashing comedian from the Comedy Central roasts of Charlie Sheen and Donald Trump. He's like Dorian Gray if he had also received the gift of wit for selling his soul. While there's an intelligence to his provocation, his jokes about death, tragedies, and taboo subjects have kept his mainstream popularity unstable. His Comedy Central show, The Jeselnik Offensive, was canceled in late 2013 after two seasons.

Jeselnik is now on a nationwide tour to prepare for a new and undoubtedly more offensive standup special, which you can get a taste of tonight at the Pantages Theatre. Before the show, we talked about why he's not concerned with social media and postponing his new standup special. In an attempt to understand the man whose career is built on cancer and rape jokes, we also asked what makes him cry. He told us.

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Todd Bridges: "I managed to pick myself back up and become successful"

Categories: Comedy
Over the past decade, celebrities behaving badly has become somewhat of a cliché in Hollywood, and the more disastrous the train wreck, the more fame that seems to follow. That hasn't always been the case.

Todd Bridges, best known as big brother Willis from the classic '70s TV show Diff'rent Strokes, has had his fair share of public scandals and brushes with the law. The difference was that instead of skyrocketing his career, it almost crushed it.

"It's so shameful that people like Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes can go crazy and get into way more trouble than I ever did, and they end up with movie offers and all of these types of things," says Bridges. "Not me. I stumbled, and I had to fall for a while. It's crazy, because if I'd died or ended up in prison, people would have been more interested in my story than they were because I managed to pick myself back up and become successful."

This weekend, Bridges will be in New Hope for two very special shows at the New Hope Cinema Grill. Before his trip, we chatted with the child star-turned tabloid darling-turned reality star-turned standup comedian about his career, his dancing skills, and what Willis really was talking about.

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