Comedian Donnell Rawlings creates life on stage when he performs his comedy routine.
“I’m an observational comic. I talk about things like relationships, fried chicken, iphones and President Barack Obama,” says the funny man who grew up in the Washington, D.C./Alexandria, VA area.
Rawlings says he always knew he and members of his family were funny growing up in the nation’s capital.
“Everyone is funny to some extent. We didn’t have much and we had to make the best of things,” Rawlings says.
He used his comedic antics while serving in the Air Force for four years.
“I did comedy there and it wasn’t for pay,” he recalls. “I was the comic in the day room and information. I was funny when I wasn’t supposed to be.” Rawlings got the chance to perform comedy in such areas as the Caribbean and Europe.
Once he returned stateside, Rawlings decided to try his brand of comedy on the audiences and comedians at the local comedy clubs around the DC area. He became the official heckler of comics who appeared on stage.
“Comics and club owners wanted me to perform on stage. I knew comedy was the only thing I wanted to do,” Rawlings recalls.
Six months after performing on stage, he was telling jokes on HBO’s “DEF Comedy Jam.” He worked as a general performer on the show during its third year of production.
Recently, Rawlings hit the Pittsburgh Improv stage for a six-show run. This was Rawlings third time performing at the Pittsburgh Improv.
“I came back by popular demand. I was in Pittsburgh years ago and I performed in a ballroom of a hotel. After that, I’ve been back performing at the Improv. Pittsburgh has been very good to me,” he says.
Rawlings came to prominence while appearing on the critically acclaimed “Chappelle’s Show” for two and a half years.
“I worked for Dave until he moved to Africa. I didn’t have a passport so I couldn’t go with him,” says Rawlings. “Dave taught me a lot of things like how to take chances and how to trust my instincts and not be afraid. Dave was one of the most creative and imaginative comics around.” According to Rawlings, Chappelle is “in good spirits and lives in Ohio.”
Rawlings played such memorable characters as Ashy Larry and the 70’s Jheri Curled, Beautiful. He also served as a writer for “Chappelle’s Show” and was chosen to host the show’s Lost Episodes.”
“Beautiful the Jheri Curl player was my favorite character to play because I hadn’t had hair for so many years. I got the chance to smack it, flip it rube it and spray it down,” says Rawlings of the wig he donned for the character. “It was great.”
Rawlings’ hosting abilities caught the eye of Power 105-New York City’s Hip-Hop and R & B Radio station. Rawlings co-hosted “Egypt and Ashy” in the morning on the station and went on to host “The Big Tigger Morning Show” on WPCG in Washington, DC.
He has also had regular television appearances on E! Television’s “Chelsea Lately,” MTV’s “Hatin,” and MTV2’s “Guy Code.”
In addition he has also appeared on “The Wire” for a three-episode arc during the show’s final season. He has also appeared in “Law and Order: SUV,” NBC’s “Third Watch,” and the HBO special “The Corner.”
“I think TV and film is a natural progression for any comic because you get fans and they want to see you outside of the comedic realm,” he says.
Rawlings will continue his television career with MTV 2’s “Hip-Hop Hollywood Squares,” which is set to air on May 22 at 11 p.m. The show will regularly air on Tuesday nights at 11 p.m. on the network. Rawlings will regularly occupy the corner right square.
“The show will feature a lot of celebrity singers and rappers and all the questions will focus on pop culture, that’s the twist with this one. The executive producer from “Guy Code” liked what I was doing and selected me for this but I am not the center square. I’m in the hood in the top right,” he says with a smile.
When Rawlings isn’t making people laugh with his unique brand of observational comedy, he is honing his craft by writing jokes.
During his down time, he can be found throwing down in the kitchen.
“I love to cook. Cooking is my canvas. I generally make anything that’s in my refrigerator, but I can do Italian and Southern cuisine. I also dabble in Indian food. You learn from your mistakes quickly with Indian food,” he says.