Die Laughing: The Loop 21 Spotlights Two Emerging Voices In Stand Up Comedy
1 year ago
No, one of them isn't Kevin Hart
One man has created a name, and many enemies, on Twitter.
The other's name may not ring bells... yet, but he is quickly becoming a favorite of comedy's big names.
The Loop 21 spotlights Lil Duval and Hannibal Buress.
The funnyman you love to hate was here before Twitter, show some respect.
You May Not Know His Name But He's A Big Deal
NEED MORE LAUGHS?
Lil Duval Is No #Basic Comedian
“Man, this is some bullshit!”
Those aren’t exactly the first words you’d expect a comedian to open their routine with, but Roland “Lil Duval” Powell is going that route. And for some reason, the small crowd that has come to see him in Atlanta’s Uptown Comedy Corner is laughing. But not with him, or at him, for that matter. Because he wasn’t joking.
Tonight was supposed to be somewhat of a grand homecoming for the comedian. Duval performed his first ever stand up show here back in 2000 before going on to tour with Cedric the Entertainer, appearing on Comic View, releasing two moderately successful DVDs and becoming one of the most prolific black personalities on Twitter. But, because of the NBA finals, most of the people that might have come to this show, decided to stay home.
“LeBron got me out here f*cked up,” he snarls, with the crowd still laughing. “Oh, ya’ll think I’m joking. I’m dead ass serious. I’m too famous for this type of shit.”
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Duval is used to getting laughed at, even if he wasn’t trying to be funny.
“Growing up I never cracked jokes purposely,” he says from the closet-sized backstage area at Uptown. “I was never actually trying to be funny, I just always came off that way. I knew I always wanted to be an entertainer though. When I saw that I had a talent to make people laugh, I just decided to roll with it.”
Rolling with it meant leaving home. When asked what he was doing in his hometown before he got bit by the comedy bug, his usually wide eyes begin to slant and his voice turns into a mumble.
“I was just doing everything everybody else was doing in the hood,” he sighs, waving his hands as if to say “next question.”
When asked what exactly, the nonchalance turns into a bit of annoyance.
“I was just doing my thing,” he pauses. “I don’t like to promote that type of stuff too tough.”
Duval doesn’t mind promoting himself though. After moving from Florida to Atlanta, he cut his teeth performing at Uptown until he became a regular. From there he built a name for himself working the chitlin’ circuit and performing at various HBCU Homecoming weekends. Inspired by the efforts of rap peers like T.I., Duval decided to make his talent a legitimate business.
In 2003 he released Dat Boy Funny, a DVD of comedy sketches and parodies. From there he invested in a van, had it wrapped with his image and hit the road. Today he doesn’t remember how many copies he actually sold, but he does know that it made an impact.
“People still ask me about that DVD to this day,” he laughs. “I didn’t even think I was doing anything genius at the time. But my whole thing is, I have to go where people are at; let them see me. I didn’t have the luxury of having the industry fuck with me off top.”
After a rough first night, Duval’s second show at Uptown the next day already looks like a success and he hasn’t even entered the building yet.
With no basketball game to compete with, the club is completely full, drinks are flowing and hot platters are flying in and out of the kitchen.
When Duval pulls up to the venue in his shiny black Lamborghini he sees that finding a parking spot isn’t as easy as it was last night. Which is a good problem to have.
If the flashy car is any indication, life is treating Duval pretty damn good right now. He has come a long way from riding around in a promotional van. People lined outside point and stare he attempts to sneak through the club’s back door. Duval isn’t won over by the attention. More people doesn’t mean easier laughs.
“People don’t really come to my shows to laugh,” he says. “They come to see if I’m actually funny. I probably won’t even get into the jokes I really want to tell. Tonight is still show and prove for me.”
Admittedly, Duval will be the first to tell you that a lot of people come to his shows based off his personality on twitter. The screename @lilduval has become on of the most notorious on the social networking site, making him one of the most polarizing people on it. One minute he’s getting retweets for a joke, the next he’s a trending topic because he pissed the wrong person off.