DeRay Davis backstage at GPAC. PN Photo/Mahala Treish
By: Mahala Treish, Photo Editor
Comedian DeRay Davis came to Pembroke to host the National Pan-Hellenic Council Stroll Off that the school holds annually every homecoming.
DeRay Davis is known for his acting and comedic skills. His credits include the movie “Barbershop,” the television show “Snowfall” and his Netflix special “How To Act Black.” During the step show, Davis kept the crowd entertained with his jokes and great spirits.
Davis began his career at 20 years old at a comedy club where his uncle was the bartender and while he was attempting to get a drink from him, there was a comedian on stage and Davis thought to himself that I could do that. Davis was inspired by his mother to start his career in comedy.
“I wasn’t inspired in comedy by comedians, I was inspired by like my mom was always telling me I’m funny. I wanted to make my family laugh first and then spread out and broaden out,” Davis said.
After learning his craft he then was inspired by some of the greats Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx. He also gets inspiration from the people around him as well like Corey Holcomb, Deon Cole and Comedian DeRay Davis Hosts Step Show Lil Rel Howery.
“I just love when people are breaking down the walls for comics after them. That’s what I appreciate more than your jokes. I appreciate that you furthered our career, you furthered what we do, you bettered the game of comedy,” Davis said.
While on the topic of breaking boundaries, Davis did a couple skits on Kanye West album “Late Registration” and “The College Dropout” since he was on these two albums, Kanye invited him to come perform on the Grammy stage in 2006. He was able to get on the albums due to Kanye was looking for someone who could do skits for “The College Dropout” and Bernie Mac was brought up as a possibility.
“I didn’t do impressions back then at all and then I just did it so it was kind of a spur of the moment thing and Broke Phi Broke later on he called me back to do the next skits for the next album,” Davis said.
During the Grammys they were telling Davis he was “Grammy Go-Go” because it was his first time there and he was so excited to be there. He really enjoyed himself at the Grammys and would love to go back and host or co-host the show in the future. Davis creates his own music as well, he has been writing since he was 11-years-old and started performing songs when he was 16 or 17-years-old but his career in comedy took off so fast that he decided to take the comedy route.
Davis is on the FX show “Snowfall” where he plays the character Peaches, which turned out to be bigger than he thought. He focused more on movies in the past with his career versus TV, the first time he was on TV was filming the show “My Wife and Kids”.
“It’s crazy to see people really love a character like they love the show and to be apart of that is really dope. You always have the fear is the screen too small? Am I bigger than this? And I think you’re only as big as you wanna be, you’re as big as your character is given off.” Davis said.
Davis has many favorite moments in his career that it is so hard for him to pick a certain one. The week before he came to Pembroke, he filled in for another comedian at a college where he realized it had been a minute since he had performed at a college. When it came to Pembroke, he told himself that he was gonna be ready, have fun with it, and make it more than just about his set.
“It was a real wild crowd. Everybody treated the performance like a day off which I love. I don’t like when you go to comedy shows and it’s all tense and everything I like when people are having a good time,” Davis said.
His performance at Pembroke would be one of his favorite moments in his career.
Abdul Ghaffar, Director of Campus Engagement and Leadership, also had the opportunity to meet DeRay Davis since Campus Engagement and Leadership hosted this event.
“DeRay was one of the most down to earth, approachable entertainers I have had the pleasure to work with. What I liked most was how friendly he was to the students he came in contact with,” Ghaffar said.
Normally when UNCP has the stroll off, Lamar Courmon is the host for the event and keeps the crowd entertained throughout the event. Davis found this out and allowed Courmon to co-host the event with him.
“I was very pleased with how he decided to co-host the show with our own Lamar Courmon. Lamar knows what our crowd likes and DeRay recognized that immediately. They had some great chemistry and it made for an excellent event,” Ghaffar said.
Lamar J Courmon, Director of Creative Services and the co-host to DeRay Davis during the step show which was an unexpected great experience.
“The fact that he brought me back on stage with him to host with him was absolutely surreal. That was not something that was planned and he made the final call on that decision and for that I’m forever grateful to DeRay Davis,” Courmon said.
Davis was a great host for the night and gave an outstanding performance with great energy. He was a very down to earth person who was willing to speak and take pictures with everyone.