On Nov. 11 acclaimed comedian James Davis swanked back into the dim lights of Doms Lounge. The occasion was Comedy Nite, hosted by Soca and BLOC. Opening acts of the night included Hollywood’s Olivia Harewood and a sprinkling of comedians from the Claremont Colleges.
Throughout his act, Davis was able to keep the audience going with a range of material, throwing in quite a few well-received jabs at the Claremont College lifestyle. As a veteran of Pomona College with the Class of 2005, Davis is familiar enough with the school to crack a few good ones.
“I always enjoy coming back to Claremont; I know the inside,” Davis said.
Though the Claremont material was largely well-known oddities and echoed familiar lunch table critiques, the delivery was timed better than a Thanksgiving turkey and seemed very well-recieved by the crowd.
“I thought his Pomona jokes were especially funny,” said audience member Gabbi Kelenyi PO ’13. “It was great that he wasn’t afraid to go for it. The Pomona material made it a much more targeted performance. The best part was to be able to laugh at ourselves with him.”
Davis engaged superbly with the audience, encouraging participation and call-outs while still making benign jabs at stray comments and coughs in appropriate stand-up style.
It was, in fact, a class at the Claremont Colleges that inspired Davis to take up acting seriously. Emeritus Professor of English Martha Andresen’s Shakespeare theatre class vaulted Davis into the acting world.
High school was also a significant turning point in Davis’s fateful path to comedy. He attended Crossroads High School in Santa Monica, California, where Davis often drew from his fellow classmates for comedic influence and material. He and his friends were part of a minority group as black students receiving financial aid in a mainly white, upper-class private school, and they used humor to create a more comfortable environment.
While seeking an acting career, Davis began to pursue stand-up comedy, as he found that there were more available opportunities there.
Davis is now signed onto CAA, Creative Artists Agency. CAA is a prominent sports and talent agency based in Los Angeles. He has written material for the BET Awards shows of the last three years, as well as the last two BET Hip Hop Awards shows. Davis also has a TV sketch show currently in development.
In addition, Davis has hosted shows for Drake and Ryan Leslie and performs across the Southern California Area for troops and colleges. Davis can now be seen on the Comedy Central show “Russell Simmons Presents Stand-Up at the El Rey Theater”, hosted by J B Smoove.
Davis is also widely known for his musical parodies—most significantly, his Baracka Flacka Flame parody to the tune of “Hard in da Paint”, by Waka Flocka Flame, in which Davis portrays a hip-hop hard-partying Barack Obama in the video “Head of the State.” Davis’s impression of the Flocka-fied Barack has been a hit, with his eerie accuracy in his imitation of Obama in everything from his hand gestures and expressions to his voice and cadence. The video now has well over six million views on YouTube.
Davis also utilizes his Obama impression during his stand-up routines. It wrapped up his Friday night show in Doms and included a plug for the reelection of President Obama in the upcoming election next November.