Comedy, music and acting — D’Elia does it all
Juggling one job and a hobby can be crazy in this fast-paced world. Chris D’Elia, one of the most promising comedians on the circuit, seems to relish in an overwhelming schedule that includes (but is not limited to) live comedy, music, acting and writing.
Today, most of D’Elia’s fans also know him from his Danny Burton character on the immensely popular and much lauded “Undateable” series on NBC and, of course, the short-lived “Whitney” series. The latter, unfortunately, only lasted for two season before being canceled.
Besides being quite active on the touring circuit and flying all over the U.S. for regular weekend dates, D’Elia’s schedule has been quite daunting during the past couple of years. From releasing a parody hip-hop album as MC Chank Smith in early 2013 to appearing in his own Comedy Central special dubbed White Male Black Comic and directed by his father that very same year, he has maintained a work regimen that would exhaust most.
Best Bets caught up with the man who will be headlining Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa very soon while running around in Southern California to learn about his all-too-current events schedule and, of course, to learn some tools of the trade.
Unlike most other comedians who’ve done the circuit and quickly given up, Chris D’Elia had a fairly remarkable first gig and the momentum carried on even with a few hiccups along the way.
“I think what I remember most about my first real gig was lots of pacing back and forth beforehand. It was at a place called The Ha Ha Cafe Comedy Club in North Hollywood. They have shows nearly every night to this day but but I got a gig after doing open mics,” said Chris D’Elia. “It actually went really well but, every now and then, I would start bombing. However, I just kept with it. You just have to if you want to get better.”
For those not in the know, the Southern California-based D’Elia is the son of industry mogul and TV producer Bill D’Elia and the also equally talented interior designer Ellie D’Elia. And while neither did more than offer their support says D’Elia as one might surmise, he was quick to point out he did things on his own.
“My father helped me as being my father. No one cares who my dad is when I’m on stage,” he said.
The secret to D’Elia’s stand-up comedy — although many would readily assume is improvisational — has been spacing or, more importantly, a total lack thereof. Rather than piecing random bits and accentuating their inevitable transitions, his method has worked.
“My jokes tend to kind of run into each other and I try and have an overall point. I think the only time I get off course is when hecklers rattle me,” D’Elia said.
“Anything is possible in comedy. You can make anything joke work even if it’s offensive. There’s several subjects that people talk about and they make for good jokes because they’re so relevant to everyday life and user friendly,” he said. “Although I will add I am not a fan of one-liners.”
Watching D’Elia perform many have incorrectly guessed he’s done his fair share of extra-curricular mood enhancers. However, the notion couldn’t be any further from the truth.
“I’ve had many people think that I do drugs like 420, but the reality is that I just never did. Sure, it happened all the time around me but I just never cared.”
And even on his Netlfix original series “Incorrigible,” one can readily forgive him for his small mistakes that serve to remind the viewer that he, like them, is also human and imperfect.
“I like leaving stuff like that in a special because it creates more of a moment. Everyone messes up now and then, and I always kind of liked that about stand-up,” he said.
One of D’Elia’s greatest joys besides making people spit up their drinks in unison — acting — has proven an equally fruitful venture. Even if his latest NBC special didn’t get picked up for a fourth season, he’s had a successful run that other comedians would kill for.
“I’m hoping and waiting to hear if ‘Untraceable’ gets picked up again, and I have some movies coming out soon. One is an original Netflix series called ‘XOXO.’ I also starred in ‘Flock Of Dudes’ with Bryan Greenberg, Eric André, Hannibal Burress and is that one coming out this summer,” he said.
Those hoping for a follow-up to D’Elia’s alter-ego Chank Smith should know it may be a minute. One listen to his “Such Is Life” (2013) release reveals an inherent talent that even he didn’t know he had.
“I’ve been planning a documentary about him but it’s kind of taken a backseat to everything else I’m doing,” he said.
But even the mere idea of pairing up with another comedian for a short run or even a cross country tour doesn’t look like a possibility with his full plate in 2016.
“I’ve talked about doing something like that (performing as a co-headliner with another like-minded comedian) with my agent. It would have to be the right guy/gal and the right time,” he said. “What I would like to do is do a show with even more guys or one where I bring out a bunch of smaller, younger comedians. Scheduling anything new these days is always very hard.”
Not a bad problem to have.