He may like to make people laugh, but out comic (and practicing Buddhist) David Cudlipp is no-nonsense about his comedy
Dallas Comedy Conspiracy at Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. Jan. 23 and 30 at 9 p.m. $10 at the door, $ 8 online. DConspiracy.com.
How do you turn a physical therapist into a comedian? Classes, of course.
Bad punchline? That may be because Dave Cudlipp didn’t write the joke. But it’s a true story. Five years ago, Cudlipp got an itch in his funny bone and began improv classes at Ad-Libs. That comedy club is now defunct , but Cudlipp is writing and performing sketches for Dallas Comedy Conspiracy.
That’s good comic timing.
For Cudlipp, gay or straight, humor is humor, though he thinks a gay perspective does add texture to the sketches.
"I don’t know if there’s a different edge in gay humor or if gay comics are necessarily funnier than straight ones, but comedy comes from point of view and exploiting and seeing humor in random things. What I like is based on my life and experiences," he says.
Cudlipp has a relaxing, deep voice with a slight twang that sneaks out occasionally. His mellow tone is hardly what one might expect from a guy whose job it is to tickle laughs out of strangers.
You might think comedians are funny all the time, but Cudlipp keeps a serious, philosophical approach to his work, perhaps owing to his spirituality — he’s a practicing Buddhist. Or maybe he just knows that as a potential second career, it’s still business as necessary.
"I’m much more quieter and observant. I don’t have to be the center of attention. There are two sides of my personality — the performer and the real," he says.
Dallas Comedy Conspiracy was started just two years ago by Andy Russell, with the mission to diversify the local comedy scene. But how can one troupe broaden the scope of comedy?
According to Cudlipp, Dallas is flush with stand-up and improv venues, but few who perform sketch comedy. That wasn’t funny to Russell, so he started DCC to fill the void. And there is a difference.
"We do a lot of improv, but sketch comedy is written ahead, practiced and performed," Cudlipp explains. "This is where I always wanted to end up. I like the creative part of it. Plus, when I write something it’s like my baby."
One of Cudlipp’s baby names would be "Gay Chicken," his skit that pushes some boundaries while answering the question: What happens when drunken straight guys play chicken with same-sex kissing? And yes, Cudlipp says it goes all the way.
"It’s interesting how the audience reacts to the sketch because there is about a minute-long kiss in it between two guys," he says. "I’m a big guy, and another guy crawls on top of me and we just go at it. We like to push the envelope but really, we just want the audience to have a good time."
Ultimately, "Gay Chicken" gets the laughs — and that is what the group wants.
"The satisfaction comes when they laugh. That’s all it comes down to. It’s the approval, the reward," he says, adding, "plus, I’m a little partial to it because I wrote it."
Since September, the Fahari Arts Institute has been hosting a successful Queerly Speaking events monthly. But where did Fahari and the monthly event come from all of the sudden?
"It came about because I started to see when my friends would perform their poetry, it didn’t reflect who they were," says Harold Steward, Fahari’s artistic director, pictured.
By which he means gay.
With Queerly Speaking, Fahari showcases LGBT African-American artists in the community. And with the continued growth of the event each month, it is long overdue.
"It’s what Dallas needs and we have a lot to say," he adds.
Backbeat Cafe, 300 N. Akard St. Jan. 22 at 8:30 pm. Call 214-517-4692 for more information.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 22, 2010.