There's a rather presidential-sounding voice that answers Tommy Davidson's cell if the comedian doesn't happen to pick up in time. In fact, it's a dead ringer for the current commander-in-chief: "Hi, I'm Barack Obama and you just called Tommy Davidson's phone." It ain't the actual POTUS on the comic's outgoing voicemail message, but rather his accurate rendition of the prez, one of dozens of impressions in his arsenal.
Besides a mean Fauxbama, he also does a dead-on Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Jackson, and Al Jarreau, among others. Davidson's ample vocal skills and comedic talents -- honed during countless gigs and five seasons on landmark 1990s sketch show In Living Color -- are why he's downright hilarious in films like Juwanna Mann or Woo. Ditto for his latest role as the flamboyant perm-loving pimp Cream Corn in the flick Black Dynamite and the hit Adult Swim cartoon that the blaxploitation spoof inspired.
Davidson -- who kicks off a three-night, five-gig stint at the Tempe Improv on Friday, July 12 -- obliged a few fanboyish questions about the recurring character when Jackalope Ranch spoke with the comedian by telephone recently. Like, what sort of shenanigans are planned for Black Dynamite's upcoming second season? (Hint: He says there's some "crazy-ass episodes" planned.)
Besides discussing Cream Corn's antics on the Adult Swim program, admittedly his "favorite project" as of late, Davidson also talked about hosting the Chocolate Sundaes Comedy Show special that aired on Showtime back in February (and recently dropped on DVD), what sort of jokes he'll crack at the Improv this weekend, how he's working on a biopic about Rat Pack member Davis, and the possibility of an In Living Color reunion.
So among your many impressions, you do a great imitation of Obama. I do, I do [said as Obama].
Do you have any new material about the recent controversies with the Obama administration and the IRA or NSA? I don't really go with anything specific to politics, I just do my rendition of his voice and how he talks. And I take whatever subject matter I can get coming out of his mouth if it sounds funny and feel-good, and I make it sound funnier.
You've also done Sammy Davis Jr. on In Living Color and in your stand-up. We hear you've even got a Sammy biopic in the works. Yes. I've got the rights to a very good book called Deconstructing Sammy and I'd like to take it and turn it into a movie.
We imagine it gets into some really explicit deals about his life. Without a doubt. It's [about] his relationship with the mob, his relationship with Frank Sinatra, how he was mistreated by the Kennedy administration but was one of the key components of John Kennedy becoming president. He had personal relationships with Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix . . . he helped start out Clint Eastwood's career. His personal relationships were incredible. He married one of the most popular white actresses in Hollywood [May Britt] during a time when blacks couldn't eat ice cream sundaes in a public diner. That will tell you who he is.
Plus, he was one cool mofo . . . Yeah, definitely. You can't take that away. We all know that part.
You hosted the Chocolate Sundaes Comedy Show special on Showtime earlier this year. Any chance of a second one? I'd like to see that, but I haven't heard any word. I know the DVD came out and I know we're happy about that. A least that's a method of it getting out to the people if there isn't another one.
It was really funny and a bit edgy. Were any of the comedians or writers involved worried about going too far with some things? You know what? It's nothing that everybody doesn't [already] know about. It's stuff that's out there. You poke fun at life, right? And life includes everyone. And there's some shows that lean toward what America really looks like, which is everybody. Not just white. Not just black. So we were able to do that, like In Living Color was able to do that.
And In Living Color was pretty groundbreaking for its time. It had never been done before. Well, as a matter of fact, it had been done before. It had been done by Flip Wilson and it had been done by Richard Pryor. It had been done before, but it just hadn't been done in a long time.
Will there ever be an In Living Color reunion of some sort with the entire original cast? There were some plans put in place and those were halted for a moment, but it's going to be coming back around. So we'll see what happens.
Other than impressions, what sort of material does your brand of stand-up involve? I think I lean more towards just talking about different people and the differences between all of us. I think if there was one theme that I have leaned towards in my recent stage of development, that would be it. I just talk about everyone. And the broader the audience, the broader I can take my material, because I got something for everyone.
Care to share what you have planned for your Tempe Improv gigs this weekend? Well, in Phoenix, I can always throw in a lot of my good Latin stuff. So I've got a lot of Latin [humor] for you. I'll be giving them what I got, but I think it will be more than just "Tommy's Greatest Hits." Just know to expect the unexpected but expect it to be good, Expect it to be great, in fact.
So Black Dynamite is coming back for a second season on Adult Swim. What's in store for your character? Aw, hell bro. You know, it's like everything breaks loose. I just did a couple more crazy-ass episodes just the other day where Cream Corn ends up being a real dancer on Soul Train finally but finds out that [Don] Cornelius is a very sinister individual. So there we go again. That's one of my favorite projects right now.
Call us crazy for asking this, but how come? Because it's just so damn creative. And it's on such a creative forum. You don't get any better than Adult Swim right now, you know?
Did you ever dream of being a dancer on Soul Train growing up? Anybody who's black in America did. Well, everybody who's in America wish they were, You don't have to be black in America to wanna be on Soul Train. Who wouldn't?
What sort of things would you like to see Cream Corn do in the second season? I'd like to see him hang out with Jay-Z. Because I think Jay-Z is like the flyest shit out there. And I think Cream Corn is one of the flyest little pimps out there. I think that would make a great episode. Plus, I just think that . . . I just want to work with that guy.
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In one episode, Black Dynamite tries teaching Cream Corn some kung-fu skills. Did you ever get into martial arts? Yeah, when I was a kid, everybody thought they knew karate. I took a karate class for a couple years but I never became a black belt. You can't tell my mind that.
Would you ever sport Cream Corn's long, beautiful locks in real life like you did in the movie? If I could get it to grow that long? Hell yes.