By Sean Tuohy
South Florida-born comedian Dave Williamson is a natural storyteller with a quick wit that can be deadly. Williamson’s comedy gives an unflinching look at his life as a parent and grown man. He originally worked at his family’s car dealership, but then broke out and started touring nationally and recently sold a Web series to NickMom.
Williamson took a few minutes to sit down and talk about his stand-up career, how he approaches comedy, and what the future holds for him.
Sean Tuohy: What led you to comedy?
David Williamson: I really enjoyed writing in college. I got a minor in creative writing. I was a comedy fan, and a bit of the class clown. After college, I was freelance writing for magazines and my girlfriend (now my wife), took me to a sketch comedy club. I immediately wanted to write for them. You had to be a performer, so I tried out. Luckily, they accepted me and I fell in love with performing. After a few years, sketch comedy led to stand-up, and I never looked back.
ST: Who were your comedy influences growing up?
DW: I was a big fan of “Saturday Night Live” as a kid. I'd also recite funny commercials to make my parents laugh. My mother's side of the family had great storytellers, so I spent family gatherings watching them tell tales. That's what pretty much led to me being a class clown.
ST: What was your first time on stage like? Good, bad, or eh?
DW: I got comfortable with sketch comedy pretty quickly because I was already a good public speaker. The first time I did stand-up, I was warming up the audience at the sketch show. It went terrible. I had no idea how to do segways, or punch lines for that matter! But then I talked my way onto a theater show that a local radio show was putting on. I basically lied and told them I was an experienced stand-up. I did 15 minutes and it went surprisingly really well. I was hooked and concentrated mostly on stand-up after that.
ST: Do you write jokes down or do you keep them in your head?
DW: I used to write everything down, word for word. After you are a few years in, you get better at "writing on stage" and working things out in your head. I write down premises, and set lists, but I rarely will write down a joke word for word anymore.
ST: You have great delivery. Did that take time to develop or was that natural?
DW: I feel like that comes with being comfortable on stage, and doing the sketch comedy for two years before I got into stand up certainly helped with that. It definitely develops and is a process over time though. There is no book you can read and boot camp you can take that will be a substitute for stage time. It's all about logging hours on stage.
ST: How long does it take you to create a new bit?
DW: Totally depends. Depends on the bit, and depends on the shows you are doing. In Los Angeles, you are usually doing short showcase sets night in, night out, so there are fewer opportunities to work new stuff. On the road, you can sandwich new stuff in between the proven jokes during your headline sets.
ST: How did it take to get the material together to record “Thicker Than Water?”
DW: That was my first CD so it was a culmination of my jokes that I wrote over the first eight years or so of doing stand-up. I already have a new hour, and I'm excited to record it, because it’s more representative of my voice and ability now, and what I've been creating the past two years.
ST: What does the future hold for Dave Williamson?
DW: More touring, and continuing to grow with my material. I hope more television opportunities, which would give me a chance to build my audience. I've started hosting a podcast called Water Polo Dojo, where I basically teach comedians about my favorite sport, water polo. I've started a production company called Clean Plate Productions so I can develop multiple Web series and independent films, creating my own stuff instead of waiting for it to happen. I'm also producing a comedy festival, so I'm pretty busy! Also, tweeting is fun.
ST: What is the worst joke you ever heard?
DW: Ugh. That's a tie between every joke an audience member has told me after a show. Usually with whiskey breath and way too close to my face!