Published on September 9th, 2020 | by Percy Crawford0
Comedian D’Lai Details His Turbulent Life In His New Book, “The Journey Behind The Smile!”
D’Lai explains why comedians should shoulder the weight of healing the country through laughter.
If you ever witnessed a D’Lai show, you completely understand that dude is not right in the head (in a good way). Furthermore, if you’ve ever come across his social media outlets, you’ll understand that he’s just as funny on there, as he is on stage. Diversity is key, D’Lai says in today’s time to not only generate revenue, but to expand your brand. He already perfected the stage, now he’s turning Instagram into a comedy club. He’s also become an author during quarantine, releasing his first book, “The Journey Behind the Smile,” on April Fool’s Day. Very fitting for a man that makes comedy look so easy. Although, his book shows that it wasn’t always easy for the Louisiana native. The journey came at a price and D’Lai felt it was time to share his story.
How are you doing, man?
D’Lai: I’m glad you asked. I did not think you would ask me, Percy. I’m doing outstanding even in the midst of this pandemic.
It seems to be like comedians are at the top of the list of occupations that had to get really creative with creating content for their supporters during this pandemic.
D’Lai: Right. And for comedians like myself who is used to being on the road and on the go… that’s where we get our main source of income. It really became a shocker and an eye opener when the world shut down and all you could depend on was social media. Now it comes down to, who has a presence on social media. If you don’t have a presence on social media, you better start getting one because that’s your only way of surviving and eating right now. If you can’t have the attention of people that can’t see you, that’s a steep road to have to climb up. I made sure that I stayed active, engaged with my audience and I always put up content. It was a matter of me letting them know, hey, this is a hub for your release during this whole pandemic. Come to my page, come check out what I got going on. I ended up writing a book. My book dropped on April Fool’s Day. I make sure that I have content for the people at all times. I keep that content on my page, Percy!
(Laughing). I think it shows levels because we know you’re funny on stage, but to see how funny you are during these Instagram skits, it just shows your diversity as a comedian. You are putting a lot of funny into 60-seconds and some of those 2 to 3-minute skits.
D’Lai: (Laughing). Hey man, I think that’s what keeps me going and that’s what keeps me challenged, especially before they had the more than 60-second videos. When it was 15-seconds. I was getting it poppin’ when they had 15-second videos; 15-seconds to get your punch lines off. A lot of comedians were like, “Man, I ain’t got time for all that social media stuff.” I’m like, “Nah man!” I’m a competitor. So, if somebody doing something and they achieving some good things from it, I look at what they are doing and now, let me see if I can do it. I just jumped in headfirst and started creating my own lane, creating my own sayings, my own content. And then collaborate with some of these social media guys like my boy, King Keraun, big influencers. And these guys welcome you to that social media world, because a lot of guys that do stand-up, they don’t make that transition easy. It’s not always a smooth transition into the social media world because it’s two different lanes, man. You can stand up on that stage and rip for an hour, that’s raw. But at the same time, it’s skillset to be able to sit behind that computer and edit a video and tell a story through edit. But when you try to compare stand-up to a social media guy, there are no comparisons, that’s two different lanes. Now, you got stand-up guys that can-do social media, but you got social media guys that can’t do stand-up. So, the guys that can-do social media efficiently and the guys that can-do stand-up efficiently, I call them hybrids. You are proficient in both lanes. I don’t want to be just this, I want to be, this-this-this-that-that and that.
That “Come Get This” series, I’m wearing earbuds, watching on my phone and my wife will look at me and ask, “What are you watching?” It has me dying laughing, man. How did you come up with that concept?
D’Lai: (Laughing). Let me tell you how it all started, Percy. I’m picking my sons up from school one day. I was in Oklahoma. My sons live in Oklahoma. And it’s snowing outside, and it was cold. As soon as I landed from L.A. I went straight to the school to pick up my son’s for 3:30. My ex-wife calls me and says, “Where are you?” I said, “I’m at the school.” She said, “Caleb has practice, so he won’t be out until 5:00.” I’m like, “Ah shit, what am I going to do for 2-hours. Goddamn.” So, I’m looking through social media, and I see a video of Jaden Smith and he’s on stage doing a concert and he’s talking to, Tyler The Creator. And he said, “I just wanna let ya’ll know, Tyler is my fucking boyfriend. He’s my fucking boyfriend.” I’m looking at the video and I’m like, “Hey! What the fuck is going on with him?” So, I was like, “Man, I’m about to do a video about this. I don’t know what… this is ridiculous.” The video went like this, I’m out in the cold, I showed the clip of Jaden, I put the music in there and I said, “Will, hey Will… come get this nigga. He trippin’. Will, come get Jaden. Uncle Phil, Carlton…” I’m just calling out different names, right. I’m not thinking nothing about this video. I’m just putting out some content. This video got like 1,700 comments. I was like, “Really?” And everybody was like, “That is funny, man. Come get this nigga.”
I was like, “Oh shit, wait a minute. You know what, let me try another video.” I tried another video. It was somebody doing some wild shit. So, I was like, “Hey… what is going on.” And then it hit me, I got it. I’m on to something. I got the blueprint. I can do these videos all day. All I’m doing is highlighting stupid shit that people doing, and I’m saying, “Come get this nigga.” And here is the kicker, when you hear, “Come get this nigga,” come get this nigga is anybody; Asian, a white person, a midget, a black person. I don’t give a shit who it is, the President. “Come get this nigga. Come get him.” I knew I had something very interesting. And it just took off, bruh.
It’s funny as hell.
D’Lai: Let me tell you how crazy the shit is, Percy with that slogan. I’m walking through the airport, me and my sons. We’re walking through the airport. I hear somebody say, “Hey, is that D’Lai?” I just kind of turned and I raised my head up, I’m in the airport. We are about 300-feet away, I’m like, “Hey… hey (in a low voice).” “(Shouting) Hey, come get this nigga. That shit is so funny. Come get this nigga, man. I love you.” I’m so embarrassed. I’m like, “You can’t yell it out in fucking Dallas International Airport. What is wrong with you?” But I realized, that is sacred to people. Some people gotta hear it and they gotta have it, so I had to learn to make that adjustment. I know I’m going to hear it every now and then in an odd place. So, you just gotta prep yourself.
You took some heat for the transgender video. There was a time when comedians had open range to touch on anything, but now, I have to ask why did you feel the need to address that?
D’Lai: They were on my ass for that transgender video I did with my sons. “You’re so homophobic.” I’m not homophobic at all. This is new to everybody. Don’t nobody know what to fucking call people no more, we don’t know what to say. We don’t know if you’re sir-mam, mam-sir, nigga-bitch. We don’t know who you are. We don’t know. Don’t attack me for my ignorance of it. If I’m just being an asshole, then do that. I’m a father and I got to explain this to my sons. If I’m walking down the street and they see a whole grown man with a goatee and a beard with a goddamn dress on, Daddy gotta explain it. And the best way to explain it is, “Hey son, I don’t know what that is. We can go ask it. I have no idea.” I’m aware that the climate is a lot more sensitive, but if it is something that I want to say, I’m going to say it because I don’t say things with the intent to harm people and make people feel bad. Anything I do, it’s to uplift people, make them feel good, inspire them, motivate them, make them look at something differently. That may take them down a different road because it enlightened them. That’s my whole goal. Never to, I want to make you feel bad. I want to make people feel bad. I don’t do the trolling. When people talk reckless in my comments, which is rare, I’m not addressing that. I got 1,700 comments with 2 bad reviews, hey man, like my grandmother would say, “Suck out my asshole.” It’s easy to get baited in.
Was quarantine the reason you had time to write the book, “The Journey Behind the Smile,” or did it just expedite what was already in the works?
D’Lai: I’m glad you asked, Percy. Percy, I didn’t think you were going to ask me that. The book was started like 3 or 4-years ago. I was shooting a pilot in Atlanta, Georgia called, “Immigrants.” I hope they release that. That is fucking good. I was playing this role of an African motivational speaker. And it was a dope as role. They were letting me have free range with the script and oh my God. So, the lead writer on it was like, “Hey listen, I’m a big fan of yours. I have seen lots of your work. Have you thought about writing a book?” I said, “Yes, I have. I have thought about writing a book.” She was like, “Okay listen, whenever we get back, let’s get started.” I got back to L.A. and right away, we started banging it out. Recording sessions, she was in Atlanta, I was in L.A. so we would get on a call, just like this and we would have recording sessions. And it lasted for like 3-months. These recording sessions would be two to three times a week; hour and a half to two hours. Before you knew it, man… I looked up and a couple of years had passed by and the book had been transcribed and we were working on a picture for the cover, and then the pandemic hit. The pandemic hit. Around the end of January, you started getting some wind that something was wrong, and I decided to release the book on April Fool’s Day. I had nothing planned with the virus, it just happened to pan out like that. It helped me because people are were at home, they didn’t have a whole lot of things to do, so people will read a little bit more than normal.
The stigma that comes along with being a comedian is, you guys are so busy making people laugh that sometimes you’re stuck in your own misery because you have to constantly be on. It’s like the saying, “The painters house never gets painted.” What has this journey been like for you?
D’Lai: Yeah man! You can ask yourself this, who makes the comic laugh? Who puts the smile on a comedian’s face? My book, “The Journey Behind the Smile,” the title… there is so much depth in that title because it really brings me back to my early days and when I wasn’t smiling and when I was going through all of these travesties, and experiencing death after death. And all of these different people in my life and then they are out of my life. And I’m not in a position to smile. First of all, I was a shy kid. I was very shy. I wouldn’t even smile. I was embarrassed. I had this gap in my mouth. I was like, “No, I’m not smiling, these goddamn teeth are too big. I’m not doing this shit.”
I had a first-grade teacher, Mrs. Mitchell. Mrs. Mitchell pulled me to the side, and she said, “D, you need to smile more. You have a beautiful smile.” For a kid coming up in an environment like that, no mom, no dad, I don’t get to hear, “I love you’s.” I don’t get to hear these pleasantries. That was a big ego boost for me. It was a big push for me to start being a little bit more vocal and start to open up a little bit. I still wasn’t all the way opened up, but it did something for me. The book takes you through the journeys of me being a child, me being a teenager and being an adult. And me finding that happiness that I’ve always wanted. And then being able to smile. It was a journey to get to that. Just to smile. Something as simple as a smile. Something that you own. You own that smile. Nobody owns it but you, and you don’t want to participate in something that you own? And then I had to learn to love myself. We always expect it from people, but you got to love that person that you see in the mirror. That’s the first person you see in the morning and you got to learn to love him. And if you don’t, you gonna have a hard time in this lifetime trying to find it.
I see a lot of comedians say they were shy when they were younger. What brought you out of your shell?
D’Lai: This is where the conversation in this interview gets a little bit raw. I’m trying to keep it PC.
No man, speak your truth, bro.
D’Lai: Okay, this is what opened me up. And I think anybody that goes through some kind of travesty or something tragic, it shakes you, it rattles you like somebody grabbing you by your shoulders, “Snap out of it you son of a bitch!” I got my heart broke in high school. I got my heart broke in high school in the most unconventional way. Man, this woman broke up with me… usually when someone breaks up with you it’s, “Hey, I don’t want to be with you no more.” They may or may not give you a reason, but that is it. Goodbye. And it’s usually over the phone or nowadays a text. This woman broke up with me in my face. And what I mean by that is, I had just talked to her the night before. We were just talking about our wedding plans. We’re in high school and talking about wedding plans. The next day I get to school this woman is holding hands with another dude. Which was her ex-boyfriend who had already graduated high school, had returned back to high school, walking down the hall holding hands. I said, “What the fuck is this… hey… hey… come get these niggas, man.”
(Laughing)! Even relevant back then.
D’Lai: We shared a locker, Percy. Me and this broad shared a locker together. I walk up, I see her holding hands, hand and hand with her ex-boyfriend. Donovan was the nigga name. I’ll never forget. She look up, now normally in a situation like this, when a woman is caught cold handed, busted… you want to shy away from the matter. You want to disappear and get away from the action. This woman stayed right in it. Walked up to the locker in which we shared, spoke to me still holding hands with this nigga. “Hey, good morning.” I spoke back, “Hey!” Why the fuck am I speaking? Why am I speaking to this goddamn woman? And then he spoke, “What’s up, man?” I spoke to him too. “Hey, how you doing?” Ah shit. Why am I speaking to the people?
You knew you weren’t getting her back then.
D’Lai: I knew it was over when I spoke. If I wouldn’t have spoke, I may have had a shot at it, but when it spoke, I said, “Nah, that’s a wrap.” That heartbreak opened me up. I didn’t give a shit anymore. I was like, I don’t give a fuck. I’m going to smile, talk loud, say what I want. I don’t give a shit. Because this shit right here, no man should feel this. Who does this to another man? From there I was out. I was talking to everybody. I wasn’t afraid to talk to girls, I wasn’t afraid to tell people how I felt, I wasn’t afraid to tell people, no, kiss my ass, get out my goddamn face. I just became a lot more vocal. And not in a negative way. I opened up in a… oh, this is the other side of this. It’s fun over here. Oh, I can create my own fun. I don’t have to wait for things to happen. I create this. This is the life that I want to lead. How do I want to go about this day? I want to be happy. I choose to be happy. That’s what opening up is. That’s what finding true happiness is.
Laughing is definitely essential, and we need people like you traveling the country and burying people’s anguish and despair with jokes. How important is that right now given everything going on?
D’Lai: Man, let me tell you something, people need to laugh. And there are people like me that need to make them laugh. We need to make you laugh as much as you need to laugh. Even though the world was pretty much shutdown, I can applaud the fact that they were still trying to make a way to get businesses going and to get people’s spirits lifted. The heartbeat of that is going to be comedians, period. For that hour and a half that you’re at that show, you’re not thinking about the pandemic unless the comedian is bringing it up, and even then, they will be making it funny. You’re not thinking about, I got this bill to pay. I got this ailment. Nah, you are wrapped up into what I’m telling you for this next hour. And that is so therapeutic. To sit and wallow in misery is dooming. So, then you take the other side of that, let’s get happy. Let’s make other people happy. Let’s authentically make somebody happy. Not some ole’ cornball shit. Let’s really talk about some real shit and really make people happy and feel good. Let’s uplift some people. It’s up to comedians to help heal the country, to help heal the world… as safely as possible.
A lot of funny people who have had time to generate some material. I can’t wait to hear it all. Thanks for your time. I appreciate you, brother.
D’Lai: Percy, I appreciate you, man. And I want to tell you I wish you the best in your endeavors in journalism and conducting these interviews. I wish your brand the absolute best, man and tell your wife I said, hello.Tweet