SXSW Comedy Review: The Comedian’s Comedian
Stuart Goldsmith gets James Davis to let us in on the joke
By Ashley Moreno,
5:20PM, Tue. Mar. 13, 2018
At Sunday's SXSW taping of The Comedian’s Comedian, host Stuart Goldsmith described his show like this: “I take one headliner at a time and go really deep into their creative process. At about the 40-minute mark, I try to find out if they’re depressed. And if not, I convince them they are.” First up: James Davis.
Goldsmith’s UK podcast has hosted the biggest names in British comedy and a growing list of U.S. headliners. In each episode, he talks with one comic about their creative process and emotional (in)stability while offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the industry. (It’s aptly been compared to Marc Maron’s WTF.) The show is often funny. (Both Goldsmith and all his guests are comedians.) But that’s not what makes it so special. Goldsmith has a knack for pushing his guests past potentially superficial answers to a place other interviewers often can’t. During his first SXSW Comedy taping, he sat down with Davis (Hood Adjacent, Swagasaurus, Kevin Hart Presents: The Next Level) for a characteristically amazing show. Toward the end of the interview was a perfect example of what makes his podcast so great.
As the show wrapped up, Goldsmith asked Davis about his drive for more provocative material. Davis explained that he wants his shows “nonlinear” and to feel a bit “like a roller coaster” – with a couple of safe laughs and then a few edgier ones. That’s probably where many interviewers would have left it. But Goldsmith effectively pushed him further, asking specifically about one of his jokes in which Davis suggests you share attractive women because they ultimately “belong to the game.” Goldsmith admitted it made him cringe. The outcome was two-fold. First, Davis shared the whole story behind that joke. He had invited a love interest to his comedy show. She accepted and asked if she could bring a friend. He knew it was a bad sign, but agreed. “That friend was Drake,” Davis said. “This girl brought Drake to my comedy show.” The audience lost it. The segment showcased Davis' storytelling chops, but also offered a glimpse into his vulnerability. Behind that joke “was a hurt man,” Davis said.
Along with that insight into Davis’ creative process, the segment offered a glimpse into the interworking of the industry − something characteristic of Goldsmith’s interviews. Turns out, the full anecdote was part of Davis’ longer performance, but it was edited out of the final version of the special without his permission. (Artists often don’t have final say over the editing of their performances in those types of showcases.) It was a cool insight and a great opportunity for Davis to talk about the many reasons he’s so excited for his first hourlong special, which he filmed this past February. A release date hasn’t been set, but it will likely be available on Comedy Central in the next few months.
To listen to this episode and others, go to the website for The Comedian’s Comedian.