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

"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.

[jump] "I look at it as a way for me to express myself," he explains. "As an entertainer, you want to perform and share your view and connect with a crowd. Initially, standup was a way for me to do that: to feel that rush of a live performance and make people laugh, which is a great feeling."

Performing standup regularly led to other jobs, which led Davis to a realization. "I saw all the opportunities there were onscreen and off, and I decided to educate myself more about the business of comedy. Then I thought, 'I want to add this to what I do, comedian alongside actor. Just add that slash.'"

So far, it has worked out well. Several of the writing jobs he obtained because of his standup in turn led to opportunities to act. "Standup has allowed me to present myself as an actor to more people than if I was just going to auditions. Comedy and acting go hand in hand. One job opens the door to another."

Davis would like to bring it all full circle. "I want to be in a position like Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, or Jim Carey. Guys that are so popular and successful that they're starring in their own films and also developing projects for others. I want to develop things that I think are entertaining and worthwhile. Maybe I'm not even in it, but there are people out there who need a break or help, and I'll be able to give them that opportunity."

Standup and acting aren't his only interests though. "I grew up being a sketch artist and doing figure drawings," he says. "So I'm into all things art whether it's painting, drawing. I also do music. But I feel comedy is the best vessel for me to follow my dreams."


James Davis

The House of Comedy

Mall of America, 408 E. Broadway, Bloomington; 952-858-8558


18+; 21+ later shows

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Friday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday; 9:30 p.m. Saturday

and Sunday