Growing up in a Black, vegan family in a gang-controlled neighborhood outside Los Angeles, Jabari Davis got a head start on material for his stand-up comedy routines. After all, how many people could say that they are just as knowledgeable about Crip Walking as they are with different varieties of quinoa?
Davis used his unique upbringing and other parts of his personal life for the February date of the comedy set he’s producing called “Three the Hard Way,” featuring himself, Janelle James and Seaton Smith. They each took to the stage at the Manhattan Upper West Side comedy club Stand Up NY. The young-ish, Black trio had the diverse crowd laughing into the night at their quirky and thoughtful takes on a wide range of topics, including interracial dating, child rearing and life’s awkward moments.
It was a treat to watch the comics in their element, commanding the room and perfecting their craft. Because you never know what surprises await you in New York, Amy Schumer popped in for a quick set to try out new material. It was a fun, interesting night.
Though Davis is a natural in front of a crowd, comedy wasn’t initially his chosen career path. “I didn’t see comedy as a career option. I taught school, I was a real estate broker, I did all of these different careers, but the common thread was me being naturally funny. Some of my friends bet me $200 to do a stand-up open mic. I did it, won the bet, and it’s been on ever since. That was in 2007,” said Davis, who has done thousands of shows in cities all over the country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City.
Davis’ adventurous past is not just fodder for his comedy act, but also the subject of a documentary called “Escape From LA.” The early version is available on his website, www.jabaridavis.com, and a final edited version will be released in the coming year. In the documentary, Davis offers his raw life story, flaws and all. “Comedy saved my life. I was coming out of a marriage and drug addiction. When I started doing stand-up, it was a way to expunge all of this toxic energy in myself. I was able to get in touch with who I was and take accountability as a man. I think accountability is the new gangster,” said Davis.
The bicoastal comedian seeks to use his platform as a way to not only make people laugh but also make them think. “There’s a lot of attention right now on entertainment content created by Black people and that’s great. But on the flip side, there are a lot of big issues that are not being addressed. So is all of this a distraction? We have to stay aware on both fronts,” said Davis. “Let’s accept the fact that we are the greatest and embrace that and move forward. As long as you are yearning for acceptance from someone other than yourself,