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Comedians James Davis and Norm Nixon Jr. discuss Comedy Central show, stand-up comedy


DJ Norm performs for the Hood Adjacent comedy show on Sept. 14 at Plachta Auditorium. 

James Davis said his Comedy Central series, “Hood Adjacent with James Davis,” reminds him of when he was in college. On the show, Davis addresses a variety of issues and shares his perspective of growing up ‘hood adjacent,’ or close to the ‘hood.’

“Every episode is almost like an essay,” Davis said. “We pick a topic and we really inform ourselves, educate ourselves, then do the work of connecting comedy to it, so I think if anybody here hasn’t seen the show, they should because maybe they’ll be inspired about how they can unpack or investigate things for their classes.”

Davis, along with comedian Norm Nixon Jr., performed on Sept. 14 at Central Michigan University as part of the Hood Adjacent Live College Tour. The stand-up show was presented by CMU’s Program Board and was free and open to the public.

Nixon said “Hood Adjacent” is Davis’ perspective formatted into a comedy show with field pieces and interviews ­— it’s who he is and where he grew up. 

“The goal is to share the hood adjacent perspective in order to spark further conversations on topics we thought maybe we knew everything about,” Davis said. “It’s also just to provide imagery and stories that are not just following this tired, repetitive format that we’ve seen with other shows where they only show you one type of black person and this one type of experience where it’s almost like you know what you’re going to hear at the start of the episode or you know what angle you’re going to get on a certain topic just because that’s the angle they always use.”

In terms of his stand-up, Davis said he likes talking about himself and what’s going on in the world around him because that’s what makes his material original. Both Davis and Nixon made jokes about a wide range of topics, also talking about college to relate to the audience.

“You try to find truisms — things that ring true to everybody,” Nixon said. “But the best jokes are always the things that no one else can tell, that only you can tell.”

Davis joked about social media and relationships, but he also used his comedy to talk about topics like police violence.

“The first part of any joke is normally based on truth, so you can establish your opinion on anything as long as you have a clever or funny way of ending that thought,” Davis said. “A lot of people can touch on taboo subjects knowing that a laugh will come at the end of that subject.”

At the end of his show, Davis encouraged anyone who is interested in comedy or another passion to just pursue it. 

"(Through my shows), I want to be a form of escape from whatever’s bothering people temporarily and I want them to become a follower of my comedy," Davis said. "It’s like a campaign style. You stop somewhere and you want to make them feel good but you also want them to keep following you on your journey.”