Late start hasn’t slowed comedian Sid Davis
Bill Lynch , Staff Writer
A lot of comics start early in their lives. Most of them begin in their 20s. A few do their first shows when they’re in their teens.
Sid Davis did not.
Before he tried stand-up, Davis was an aviation technician. Before that, he worked as an airline baggage handler. He also sold insurance, wrote and worked in sales at small radio station.
He got married, had kids and lived half his life. But at the age of 48, after being forced to retire because of the airline industry downswing, he finally got around to doing stand-up comedy.
“I was almost 50,” Davis said.
So he took a class, tried his luck at the comedy clubs in Charlotte and quickly turned an old dream into a brand new career.
“I was retired from the airline. So I had some kind of cushion,” he said. “I never had to be the young guy living out of his car. I had a foundation, so I could venture out.”
Davis worked his way up through the comedy ranks, although it wasn’t easy in the beginning. Having some financial resources gave him some flexibility, but being in the vicinity of middle age worked against him.
“When you’re young and do this, you’re viewed as an up-and-comer,” he said.
A young person starting out doesn’t even have to be incredibly funny. They can just be a little funny, Davis said. It’s assumed they will get better after they spend a couple of years working the clubs and maybe going on the road.
Club managers looked at him and assumed he had been doing comedy for longer than he had. Davis said they watched his act in the beginning and thought, “This is as good as he’s going to get.”
“I was never looked at as someone who would go far,” Davis said.
After he spent some time working the comedy circuit, he got better and people began to ask how long he had been a comedian.
Things have gotten better since then.
These days, Davis said he is out working between 15 and 20 days a month. He plays clubs and comedy festivals, works cruise ships and even opens for the occasional big-name comedian.
“I don’t do political stuff,” he said. “I keep it fun. If anything, it’s a break from the political stuff.”
Davis described what he did as situational comedy. Life happens. He pays attention, particularly when things get weird or go wrong.
For example, Davis recently had a job on a cruise ship. During the trip, one of the passengers became ill. A helicopter was flown out to take the passenger to a hospital.
“The helicopter was hovering perfectly above the ship, like 80 feet, because it couldn’t land on the deck,” he said. “It was amazing, but the wind was wicked. It was whipping everything around. Hats were flying.”
To get the sick passenger, the helicopter had to lower a stretcher on a rope, which Davis said jerked and swung in every direction.
“We were all on the deck watching this,” he said. “And I started thinking, if that was me, I’d say I was feeling much better. You know, I think those chest pains were just gas.”
His humor is regular life, though he has a few general rules — no politics, and he steers away from making fun of women.
“If you’re going to make fun of somebody and you have a choice between a man and woman, you make fun of the man,” he said.
Poking fun at men being dumb is the cornerstone of the American television sit-com, he said.
“It’s on ‘The Honeymooners,’ ‘The Flintstones,’ and ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’” he said.
He warned, “If you make fun of women, you do so at your own peril.”
So Davis doesn’t, usually.
Instead, he often just focuses his attention on himself. That’s always plenty of material.
“Things backfire for me,” he said. “They just go wrong.”
Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-5195 or follow @LostHwys on Twitter. Follow Bill’s One Month At A Time progress on his blog at blogs.wvgazettemail.com/onemonth/. He’s also on Instagram at instagram.com/billiscap.