This weekend you can catch the comedic stylings of Billy Wayne Davis not just once, but three times as he headlines a number of popular comedy shows in New Orleans. On Thursday (June 21) he heads to Night Church at Sidney’s Saloon and to The Maison on Friday (June 22) for Comedy F*ck Yeah both at 8:30 PM. Finally, Saturday he’ll finish up at the AllWays Lounge’s weekly Local Uproar for a show at 8:00 PM. Each show will cost $10 for admittance.
Davis, a Tennessee-native, lives in Los Angeles and has been featured on the likes of Conan, Last Comic Standing, and WTF with Marc Maron, as well as going on opening for Mitch Hedberg and touring extensively with the late, great Ralphie May. Much of Davis’s work hones in on his small town upbringing (to hilarious effect), but also comments on— and subverts traditional tropes of— what it means to be from and live in the American South in this day and age.
Davis’s appearance is part of a larger project to bring more nationally recognized comedians to the Crescent City, according to Mary-Devon Dupuy, co-host of Comedy F*ck Yeah and one of a quartet of local comedians organizing Davis’s weekend residency. “We want to get this one underway and make sure that it’s a sustainable model,” says Dupuy, who’s a fan of Davis’s material. “I was listening to his last album in the car and just listening to it makes me want to be better.”
Dupuy, her co-host Vincent Zambon, and both Benjamin Hoffman and Paul Oswell (who host Night Church and Local Uproar) hope audiences will be willing to come out and see someone who doesn’t have the name Chris Rock or Sarah Silverman. “It’s always hard to explain what level of comics you’re talking about because people only know who ten comedians are,” says Dupuy, laughing before adding, “[At least] people who don’t waste their time doing comedy.” Dupuy herself has been performing for the last four years and has been a vocal proponent of the scene.
“Having a paid show that is successful with someone who is not a household name—but is very funny— is a step in the right direction,” she says.
The New Orleans comedy scene has grown exponentially in recent years with open mics and stand-up performances almost every night of the week— sometimes several a night. Dupuy hopes this infusion of national talent into the mix will be encouraging for local performers and challenge them to put on their A-game when they do shows. “I want this to create a system where…more talented people are here more regularly and then maybe people will be able to cut their teeth more in New Orleans, “ says Dupuy.” Because the more talented the comedy you’re around is, the more people work hard and write better jokes and get more creative.”
It’s also a reminder just how difficult it is to master crafting your funny bits of material into continuous sets that run longer than a traditional sitcom segment. “Comedy is subjective, but one things that’s not is who can perform for 30 or 45 minutes,” says Dupuy. “I can’t. Most people can’t— even if they think they can.”
“Every time I do 20 minutes, I end up losing stamina and doing jokes that I don’t like and get stressed about it,” says Dupuy. “ It’s meant to seem conversational, and I think that’s the hardest part because a lot of people can write that much material, but making it all flow together takes a lot of practice.”
Dupuy also hopes it will provide an opportunity for audiences to become used to paying local performers. “We have people like Laura Sanders, who has an album out and [while] she’s never been on Conan, she gets paid gigs and tours and has made a living off of comedy to a certain extent,” says Dupuy. “She can do a half-hour or 45 minutes. She’s worth paying at least $10 for. ” A successful run this weekend would help to set the foundations for that in a city where most shows are free and everyone relies on tips. “It will show we can get people to pay for comedy shows.”