POPULAR IN THE '90s, when his work on TV's "In Living Color" and in films such as "CB4" and "Booty Call" made him one of the kings of urban comedy, Tommy Davidson has seen his profile fade a bit in recent years.
When he wasn't providing voice-over work for Disney's "The Proud Family" or guest-starring on "Mad TV" and the "Bernie Mac Show," Davidson returned to his stand-up comedy roots, showcasing a character-driven style influenced by Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. We recently spoke with the multitalented Davidson about his forthcoming show at an unlikely comedy spot, Chima Brazilian Steakhouse.
Q: How did growing up the adopted son of a white family impact your worldview?
A: It gave me a nice sober look at what was really going on. I looked at the world as a beautiful place, but I looked at people as stupid and simple because I saw how people judged others based on color. So I came up with a good perspective on right and wrong and tended to gravitate toward people who don't see colors.
Q: Do you get frustrated with comedians who mine humor from racial stereotypes in a simplistic way?
A: No, [because] the world was already here before I got here, so there's not a whole lot I can do to change it.
Q: It's been 20 years since you first made your name opening for Robert Townsend. How has the comedy scene changed?
A: Nowadays you don't need to have a whole lot of material to get national exposure. You can get on TV with just five minutes of material, whereas guys like me, Jim Carrey and Martin Lawrence had to have a good hour. Back then we got on TV with hour-long specials, but with "Def Comedy Jam," "Comic View" and "Evening at the Improv," there are more outlets now. The negative impact is that a lot of comics don't work really hard on having a lot of quality material.
Q: You're performing at Chima, which seems like a strange venue for stand-up comedy. How did this gig come about?
A: It was sort of an inside job. My PR rep has a relationship with the restaurant and they were looking to do something different. She knows I'm something different, and part of the proceeds are going to be donated to charity, which is always nice.
• THE 411: Tommy Davidson. $50-$125 (some packages include dinner). Proceeds benefit the Caring in Motion Foundation for underprivileged children. 5:30 p.m. June 16. Chima Brazilian Steakhouse, 3215 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-422-7470, www.chimasteakhouse.com.
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