Jeff Davis talks Whose Line Is It Anyway and his comedy heroes
The improv star heads to India for a two-city tour
Comedian, actor and singer Jeff Davis is heading to India for the Black Dog Easy Evening, and we get an exclusive interview with him. The improv star is loved for his impersonations of actors ranging from Christopher Walken and Keanu Reeves to Jeff Goldblum. Apart from Whose Line Is It Anyway he has worked on shows such as The Drew Carey Show and The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.
Who are some of your comedy heroes?
I’m lucky I get to work with my comedy heroes. Ryan Stiles is brilliant, Greg Proops is a mad genius. Then, there’s Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and Andy Kaufman. Somehow, I became friends with Eric Idle and got to meet the whole Monty Python team. They’re all incredible and unstoppable.
Whom do you like working with most on Whose Line?
I love them all but because I do the music stuff I get to do a lot of singing with Wayne Brady which is always a treat. It’s an honour and a delight because he is hilarious and brilliant. You can’t go wrong singing with Wayne. He once called himself the black Danny Kaye.
Do you prefer doing improv or scripted shows?
Improv, because I don’t have to remember anything. There’s no rehearsals, no equipment, no lines to remember, and no notes at the end of the show.
Improv, to an outsider, looks like it would be terrifying. What's the key to cracking it?
The key is to do it a bunch and just be terrified for the first year or two. For me, there was an epiphany that happened: don’t try to think too hard, don’t try to accomplish anything. In your head, you think there’s a right and a wrong way to do it but that’s the wrong approach. Watch Colin Mochrie from Whose Line, he’s the master of not thinking and just saying the first thing in his head and it’s always hilarious. People don’t pay money to watch people think hard.
Which direction do you see comedy heading now?
You’ve seen a lot more improvisation making its way into TV and film. Shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Reno 9-1-1 have helped bring it into TV. A lot of these shows are semi-scripted and use a lot of improv. It’s becoming more widely known, or it’s producers being lazy and making actors do all the work. The other great thing is that there’s a lot more diversity. It’s not all white men anymore.
What are you guys expecting from India?
I can’t wait to get there. I’m bringing my girlfriend out and it’s been her dream to visit India. I can’t wait to experience the people, the food, the sights and sounds.
This event is a great opportunity for us to get to experience the country for the first time. I’m really looking forward to it.
December 16, 6 pm. At Manpho Convention Centre, Nagawara. Tickets (Rs. 750 upwards)