by Brenda Hillegas
Tommy Davidson’s diverse, comedic career began nearly three decades ago when he made the rounds at comedy clubs in the DC area where he grew up. Beginning as a stand-up comedian in DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia, he was eventually spotted by major promoters and given the opportunity to open for A-listers such as Patti LaBelle and Luther Vandross. It wasn’t long before Keenen Ivory Wayans took noticed of Davidson and offered him a role on the groundbreaking sketch comedy series, In Living Color.
Though Davidson is best known as one of the original cast member on In Living Color, his flexibility as an all-around performer has paved the way for numerous roles in movies and television. With four Showtime specials, hit movies [Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Booty Call, Juwanna Mann] and television [Disney’s The Proud Family, Black Dynamite] under his belt, Davidson still loves the live stand-up performances that jump-started his career. Tonight kicks off his three night visit to Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia, a city he calls one of his favorite spots.
When I spoke with Davidson yesterday, he was relaxing in his hotel room in NYC. With so many film and television projects coming up, a day off isn’t something Davidson likely gets to enjoy a lot. It was hard for him to say what ventures meant the most to him and what points in his career have been the most meaningful so far, but Davidson does credit “now” as a great time in general.
Being an established actor/comedian and having the ability to do what he wants has allowed Davidson to take on a lot of projects in the near future. After his stand-up tour ends in December, Davidson jokes that it’s “me, me, me” time. “I’m producing a television series, working on another special and my own comedy series,” he says.
In 1991, Davidson filmed the comedy special Illin’ in Philly, at the Shubert Theatre (now the Merriam Theatre). Fans are no doubt eagerly awaiting another television special. Also coming up for the comedian is the ability to highlight his spot-on impersonation of Sammy Davis Jr. with the movie Deconstructing Sammy. “There’s progress every day,” Davidson says of the movie. “Every day until it’s in theatres.”
Davidson is looking forward to his time in Philadelphia. Like most visitors, he can’t wait to grab a cheese steak and wander down South Street. With plenty of time here this weekend, he’s also eager to visit Reading Terminal Market. “It’s perfect,” he says of the market. “You can’t not find something to eat there.”
If you can’t visit Helium this weekend, that’s too bad for you. But, make sure to check out Black Dynamite on Cartoon Network. The animated series featuring Davidson’s voice recently began season two. If you are ready for some live laughs, though, Tommy Davidson’s epic three-night, five-show tour stop begins tonight. Grab tickets at www.heliumcomedy.com to secure your spot for some cutting edge comedy that will have you laughing all the way home.
Helium is located at 2031 Sansom St. in Philadelphia. Performances are Thurs. at 8:00pm, Fri. at 7:30pm & 10:00pm and Sat. at 7:30pm & 10:00pm.