Comedian Dov Davidoff has shared the big screen with Mark Wahlberg in Invincible and the small screen with Jeff Goldblum in NBC’s Raines. Onstage, however, the New Jersey native shares the spotlight with a bunch of people you’ve never heard of. James, Bill, Sarah or whoever it is that paid the cover charge and is sitting in the front row has earned themselves a co-starring role in the Hollywood headliner’s set.
Just as he would on any given night while performing at the Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, Improv, or any other club across the country, Dov kicks off his newly-released Comedy Central album, The Point is… asking a woman sitting close to the stage named Annie and the rest of the audience, “What do you guys want to talk about?”
By set’s end, Dov, who has appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has his own half hour Comedy Central special will have learned the names of three other audience members through his unique brand of questioning.
Punchline Magazine recently had the chance to flip the script and ask Dov the questions.
Your act is heavy on crowd work. You start out asking audience members their names and continue to talk to them throughout. Why approach your show that way?
I like to be able to connect with people. And that’s how I connect, right away. I like to really talk to somebody. To me, it makes my night more interesting.
Comedy Central used the words “Hyper ADD” to describe your act in the press release for your CD. Would you say that’s an accurate description of what you do?
I don’t know. I just go into a flow, its completely organic. I don’t really have a routine that I lay out for myself. I do like to bounce around. In a way, I guess that’s a good way of describing what I do.
Why did you choose to record the album at the Comedy Works in Denver?
It’s a really good spot. It’s really good acoustically. Overall it’s just a great room. It’s a good crowd. I think there’s been a few other CDs recorded there because of that. I’m pretty sure Dave Attell did his CD there too.
Do you prepare differently for a set if you know it’s going to be recorded?
Not really. I mean I really didn’t go into the crowd as much as I would had the show not been recorded but other than that, it’s not really any different.
When did you know you wanted to be a comic?
I’m still not so sure I want to do comedy. Comedy has been my way to reconcile with the world. I didn’t really set out to do this, but comedy has served as my outlet to address my issues I have with this crazy world.
If you weren’t a comic, what would you be?
Two words. Selling pussy. No, I don’t know. I’m not really sure.
How about a rapper? You mention in one of your bits how you’d like to be a rapper.
That was strictly for the bit. I want nothing to do with the rap game.
I was listening to a podcast interview you did a couple months ago. The interviewee asked you for some advice for a comic starting out, and your response was to “find your voice.” When do you think you found your voice as a comic?
I think it’s something you continue to refine. Richard Pryor’s last TV special was a lot different from his first. Finding your voice is something you have to keep working at. Your voice as a comic evolves the same way that you evolve. You have to find out what works for you. How can you express your opinion, your take on the situations in a way that feels natural to you? That’s where you find your voice.
You have great TV and movie credits under your belt. Do you think when an audience hears those credits announced by the host prior to you hitting the stage you already have some clout with the members of the audience who may be unfamiliar with your routine?
I don’t think they give a fuck. I’ve seen people with great credits go up there and bomb. Or if you’re someone with no credits you can go up there and kill. Sure, they’ll give you more leeway if you’re someone famous. They’ll have more patience with you if you’re someone like Jerry Seinfeld as opposed to somebody they’ve never heard of, but for the most part those credits don’t mean shit when you’re out there onstage.
Speaking of TV, was it difficult getting the news that Raines was being cancelled? Do you have any thoughts on why you think the show was cancelled?
Would I prefer to do more episodes, sure. But you kind of expect it with TV. If you buy a scratch off ticket and it doesn’t say you won 10 grand, you don’t get pissed off. You know the odds aren’t in your favor. Same with a TV show. The ratings were not bad. They just weren’t good enough. I think the head of NBC was fired. I don’t know if that had something to with it but I know a lot of NBC shows got cancelled and unfortunately, we were one of them.
Any plans for another TV series?
I just shot a pilot. In terms of series, yeah I’m definitely trying to get a deal together. But there’s nothing specific, right now.
What do you enjoy about stand-up as opposed to doing movies or TV?
Being onstage, you can be in the moment. I can just go and do the damn thing instead of waiting around for four hours in a trailer and then go and try to be funny.
Inside the cover booklet of the CD there are some great photos from your youth. What was the inspiration for those haircuts?
Deficient culture. There’s no specific inspiration. Those haircuts are the result of a misguided youth. That’s a guy going in the wrong direction.
You talk quite a bit about your rough childhood in your act. How much of that rough childhood inspired you to do comedy?
You can’t get away from it. It’s always going to be there. So comedy is just how I have chose to explain it. This is just my way of dealing with it, I think. My brother became a shrink; that was his way of getting through it.
You grew up in a junkyard. What was that like?
It was very strange. Not only did I live in a junkyard but my mother and father were divorced but lived in the same house. Yeah, I mean that isn’t exactly a normal upbringing.
Do have a most memorable moment onstage?
I was high on mushrooms one time and I got through the set. When you’re that high who knows how well you did. Everything was funny, for me at least. I don’t know how funny the audience thought I was, but I thought I was hilarious.
Is there an awful moment that sticks out?
I was headlining a club in Cleveland that bussed all these senior citizens in. I’m not sure but I think they sent the old people to the wrong show or something or they thought I was someone else. It was rough. I was like 10 minutes in and I didn’t get a laugh all night so I paused for a second and looked under the house lights and saw that the room was filled with old people. It was like working Cocoon.
How has the transition from New Jersey to Los Angeles gone for you?
I’m getting used to it. It was sort of a shock at first but I really do like it out here. There are wonderful things about LA. There’s a reason why you can’t move on a freeway between 3 and 7pm– there’s a lot of people who want to be in Los Angeles.
You work the clubs in LA quite a bit, what do you think of the crowds at your shows in LA?
I know a lot of people have issues with LA crowds. I don’t think there’s really much of a difference in crowds in different areas– unless you’re doing a show under a tent at a state fair in Kentucky. Then, I guess the crowd might be different.