Comedian Dave Martin has been making people laugh since the early 2000’s. It’s not often that you have a comedian who is handsome, a sharp dresser and who can really sing. I started following him on social media because he posts some of the most hilarious videos. I met up with this comedic genius at La’Wan’s Soul Food Restaurant in Charlotte. We had an in-depth conversation over fish plates and cool drinks. Even then, he had me laughing so hard that I could barely finish my dinner.
Here’s how it all went down:
NC: How did you get started in comedy?
DM: I started in 2001 at the comedy zone when it was on independence Blvd. Now it’s at the music factory.
A couple of friends who I’m thinking of now had been in my ear 10 years prior saying, “man you got to try comedy you are crazy funny!” Then I kept hearing it from random abstract sources. I was part of an R&B Group back in the day and while I was pursuing a record deal, I had to pay for studio time, pay rent and keep the lights on, I had an airport shuttle business so I’m always cutting up so I use to hear over and over again, “Dude, you ever thought about doing comedy?” I would have the passengers cracking up the whole way to their destination and they would tell me that they have been to comedy shows and I was funnier than the guys that performed at the comedy shows in their own towns.
I still blew it off and said I wasn’t going to do that. I modeled and I did the R&B group so I was used to being in front of people, but I could not fathom the thought of telling jokes to people. I had been to comedy shows where people have gotten booed. Let me be more specific. Black folk I love you but WE ROUGH!
Dave begins to give me examples of some of the heckling phrases that some other unfortunate, my comedians have experienced:
DM: “Who man is this? Get off the stage” I hope you didn’t quit your day job! “This dude right here, yo’ they are hiring at fed ex, my cousin works there. Maybe he can give you a referral because you suck!”
He and I both laughed hard at this because we were both in agreement that people are VERY rough on comedians that are not funny. He goes on to explain that he wasn’t in any kind of rush to start comedy.
“The R&B group I was in had run its course and we were done in the year 2000 and it wasn’t ugly. It’s hard to keep a group together when it comes to R&B. I’m still great friends with them to this day. We do a Christmas show that we started doing last year. Where going to do another one this year in Charlotte. We still got it! I took a year off to decide if I wanted to work on a solo deal in R&B or I might look at this comedy thing. For the whole year from 2000 to 2001 I was studying comedy clubs and what I mean by that is I would sit in the back and take notes of what comedians did well and who did not do well and why I thought they did well or didn’t do so well. I did that at the Comedy Zone, I did that at a place in Raleigh called Charlie Goodnights, I did that at a place in Columbia, SC called the Comedy House,
I had been practicing the whole time. The apartment complex that I lived at, I would go to the gym there in the middle of the night and walk back and forth in front of the mirrors so I could see myself. Meaning my mannerisms and my facial expressions because this is what the audience is going to see. When you do amateur night, they give you 3-5 minutes but when you’re brand new, it’s an eternity. I can’t even introduce myself in 5 minutes now.
In April 2001, I had been practicing and practicing and a friend of mines who was in the transportation business with me came out to the Comedy Zone. It was a Thursday night I’ll never forget it. They let the audience pick the winner like how they do at the Apollo and I killed it from start to finish. They would give $100 to the winner and I came back week after week. The other comedians went to management and complained saying that there was no way he could be an amateur comedian.
The manager told me that I wasn’t going to be able to do amateur night, but he was going to hire me. I asked him what the problem was, and he said the others complained that I was too polished and that they didn’t believe I was brand new. He hired me to start hosting the shows on the weekend and boom comedian Dave Martin was born.
NC: I think what really jumped out at me was the fact that you took the time to study. A lot of people starting in comedy think they can just jump out there and make people laugh. Comedy is a very hard job.
DM: Well for me it’s never been hard because I’ve been in front of people before I just had to make the switch from singing in front of people, to modeling in front of people. I did a ridiculous amount of homework and practicing before I even stepped on the stage for the first time.
It’s far different than someone saying that they performed at a cookout. Far different. When you get on that stage and the lights are dark meaning the audience is dark and the spotlight is on you and you have a microphone and people are sitting there with their arms folded saying make me laugh, that’s one hundred years different from the cookout.
NC: Walk us through the very first time you performed comedy on stage in front of an audience.
DM: I was very nervous, but it wasn’t an overwhelming type of nervous. I walked onstage because I have practiced and practiced. I knew it to verbatim because I had practiced and practiced. Once I stated and got that really good laugh, so after about 30 seconds, all about 5% of my nervousness went away. You must understand that I have always been my biggest fan. I think everyone should be their own biggest fan before they want others to be their fan.
NC: Who are some of the comedians you would consider yourself a fan of?
DM: Jamie Foxx because I identify with him. He’s a triple threat. Singing, comedy and acting. I believe that I have the package to be a triple threat. Eddie Murphy is the GOAT, but I relate more to Jamie.
Next it would be Steve Harvey because I met him and opened up for him. When I opened for him, I did such a good job that he had his bodyguard come and get me and ask me to come backstage.
He said you probably heard I was a butt hole, right? He said let me explain why they said that. Most of the comedians that come up to me asking for a chance are not ready. You are the first one that I’ve seen in a while, that’s actually ready. What an honor. He explained to me that he would clear $125K pure profit. He said 5% is the funny and 95% is the business.
NC: What is a typical day like for comedian Dave Martin?
DM: I’m a night owl so I’m always up late. I check my social media to see if there are any messages I may have missed. I already think about what video I’m going to post. I have almost 30K followers. I generally do 2 posts a day. I do property management for the properties my family owns. I go to the gym to get in an hour of cardio. I do the stuff around the house I’m a homeowner.
NC: On social media, you mentioned that your parents have been married for a long time. How does your family feel about you doing comedy?
DM: My parents have been immeasurably supportive. I love them for a million reasons. I have a college degree from North Carolina State University. They never bashed me about going into corporate America. I’ve always been a good son. I never caused them any type of trouble.
NC: What advice would you want to give someone who just saw your show and said they want to be just like you? What would you say to them?
DM: I’ve had people say that and what I tell them is, you don’t want to be just like me, you want to be the best version of you. You can do a lot of things that I do but God made you different for a reason. Your path will be different for a reason. Decide that you want to do this and be professional. It means that if the show starts at 8pm you need to be there by 7:30pm. Walk around and introduce yourself to the manager. Have business cards done. Be professional. Believe in yourself. Everybody has adversity. Every comedian has been booed. I’ve never been booed but if the day comes, I won’t hang up my comedy career.
NC: What shows do you have coming up?
DM: November 7th I will be in Durham, NC. Research Triangle Park.
The day after Thanksgiving, which is Black Friday, I will be at the 707 Comedy Club for 2 shows in the ATL.