Billy Wayne Davis is the thinking man’s hillbilly. With a combination of subtle, disarming intelligence and an unmistakable comfort on stage, he has the rare ability to win over every kind of comedy audience imaginable. Billy Wayne’s comedy really has no discernible category. He can be personal, shocking, political and absurd, but his ability to form an instant connection with audiences allows him to get away with anything and everything. For Billy Wayne Davis, no subject matter is off limits because there is nothing he can’t make funny with his trademark drawl and easy charm. He has worked with some of the biggest names in comedy, including Colin Quinn, Lisa Lampanelli, Louis CK and Mitch Hedberg and has toured as the feature act for national headliner Ralphie May. He has performed festivals, comedy clubs and theaters as diverse as Seattle’s Bumbershoot, The Ryman in Nashville, Comedy Works in Denver and the LA Improv.
Years ago, when B. W. Davis started showing up at the old Tuesday night open mic at The Bar Car in Nashville, he was instantly one of my very favorite people on the planet. He embodied everything I love about my best pals from East Tennessee: disarmingly laid back, completely unpretentious, naturally hilarious and smart as a whip. He was immediately one of the funniest comics to call Nashville home. After he followed up his tenure as house emcee at Zanies by going on the road with Ralphie May, he returned to Nashville a much better, road-seasoned comic. When he moved to Seattle, we started seeing him less often – maybe every six or eight months or so when his tours took him back around to his old home.. but his absence just highlighted his exponential growth as a comic each time he returned. Fast forward to January 2012, when Zanies extended his originally planned week of shows into a three-week residency. Sitting in the green room one night, I heard Zanies’ owner Brian Dorfman say, “He has gotten GREAT.” Yeah.. he has.
The material is original, unique, road-tested, and funny but Billy Wayne Davis’ self-titled debut standup album isn’t a perfect show. Davis is heckled several times – and each time he body slams the drunk, annoying morons with style, grace and wit. During track 18, “Feeding My Ewok,” somebody drops a glass on the floor and he reacts in the moment saying, “Did a Jew just get married? What happened?” This gets him a strange reaction from the Seattle crowd and he instantly calls them on it: “Why did you moan that? That’s what they do at the end of their wedding ceremony is they break a fucking glass. That’s the weirdest P-C shit I’ve ever seen right there: I just said ‘Jew’ with a Southern accent and you’re like, ‘Uh-oh. Oh God, I read about this! This is not good!’ That was weird.” and went right back into his bit.
This, to me, is a perfect example of what B-dub does: While in the middle of a well crafted routine there is a distraction. He addresses it with a funny line and is ready to move on.. but smelled a little bullshit in the crowd’s reaction and dove in to explore that. His off-the-cuff reference is smart, well timed, culturally-informed and misinterpreted. This line (and Billy Wayne in general) contradicts the standard stereotypical caricature so often incorrectly associated with anybody with a Southern accent. Davis handily exposes the hypocrisy and prejudice of the people who assume ignorance and racism where there is none.. and he gets laughs with every improvised line as if it’s a bit he has done for years. Turns out, he’s good at this.
Look, I could have scammed a free copy of “Billy Wayne Davis” no problem, but I bought it as soon as it was available for sale because I KNEW that it would be worth every god damn penny.. and it is. You should buy it right now:
Here’s a funny promo video Billy made for his new album:
“I also got to see Billy Wayne Davis (finally), whose Southern charm made the audience warm to him immediately, and his material was on point. Also: he is adorable.”
You can read the rest of the write-up here, but that’s the only part that talks about how great NashvilleStandUp alum’s are.
OregonLive.com wrote a short wrap-up of the festival and closed it with a quote from our pal:
Billy Wayne Davis got a laugh about the “Keep Portland Weird” slogan and its obviousness. “It’s like San Francisco going, ‘let’s keep the Bay here!’”