Monday, March 12, 2012

Billy Wayne Davis's "Billy Wayne Davis"


I owe Billy Wayne Davis an apology. I humbly confess that the first time I listened to his self-titled album, I was quick to judge him based solely on his accent. As I listened to his opening material about being from The South, I prematurely lumped him in with yuksters like the Blue Collar Comedy Tour guys.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

I'm glad to report that it didn't take long before I realized the error of my ways. To jump to such a hasty conclusion was plain stupid of me and if Davis is reading this, I hope he accepts my apology.

This album is a lot of fun and if you, like me, have a tendency to shy away from Southern comedians, please don't make the same mistake I did. Jump in with both feet and you'll discover that Davis is about to shatter any preconceived blanket stereotypes you may have brought to the party.

Davis is a clever comedian and his style (not to mention his deep voice) reminded me a bit of Brian Posehn. Albeit a Brian Posehn from Tennessee. As the world around him swirls in a crazy tornado, Davis maintains a solid footing and offers up a calm commentary that manages to grab the debris caught up in the funnel cloud and makes sense sense of it all.

Even though I originally got the wrong impression of the comedy I was about to experience, Davis had me completely sold a mere three minutes in as he talked about his experience being married to -- and subsequently splitting up with -- a Puerto Rican woman. His list of pros and cons throughout the ordeal is original and each item on the list is just as funny as it is out of left field.

The approach Davis takes to his humor is one of laid back, casual observance as if he's sitting in a recliner watching a 16-car pileup take place right outside his window without so much as batting an eye. He's not quick to panic even when he finds himself in court before a judge wearing handcuffs that refuse to stay clasped (OK, maybe he pees a little, but he doesn't panic). When drug-sniffing dogs get him stopped at the Canadian border he takes it all in stride and when he accidentally drops his toddler son on his head, well...it's nothing a raspberry won't fix.

Even when the crowd tries to hijack the show, Davis remains unfazed and in complete control. A man who demands a joke about Tennessee is shut down with a simple "No" and a woman who decides to share her two cents is met with a reminder that, as a mother, she should have more of a grasp of the concept of manners.

There is a wide range of topics touched on here and each one of them is done so in a down-to-earth way that makes it easy to relate. "Rednecks and gay dudes hate each other," Davis casually declares. He then continues, "What I've noticed, though, is what they hate more than each other: Sleeves."

I never would have thought that the act of sex with a horse (Yes, sex. With a horse) could be so funny. Not only does Davis make it very laughable, he manages to say everything he wants to say about it without it coming across as extremely graphic or "blue." It's three minutes of the most amusing bestiality material you'll ever come across without having to pour disinfectant in your ears afterward. Yet another demonstration of just how good a writer and comic Davis is.

The album comes to a close with a finish that is strong and solid. Many times you can sense a comedian is in the middle of his final bit but this time around it sneaks up on you and the fact that you don't see it coming actually adds to the punch.

At the end of the day Davis has done exactly what we want a comic to do. He's given fans of comedy a satisfying 45-minute diversion from life that is laudable it its abundance of laughs. I initially got off on the wrong foot with this one, and the blame for that is totally on me. Don't make the same mistake I did. Check your preconceptions at the door and just accept this project for what it truly is: Nothing but funny.

***


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