Dave Little on the Difference Between Dallas' Music and Comedy Scenes
Getting your music heard and exposed can seem like the most unlikely and uphill of battles in all of the entertainment world. Almost. You think getting your music creations exposed is a bitch? Try comedy on for size. It's really a mystery that more comedians don't have a background of struggling in music. The two can be wrought with nearly identical frustrations of deaf ears, 140-character attention-span audiences, thankless industry people and competitive peers. They're practically the same jungle.
Little spends most of his time writing comedy material, keeping his website fresh and performing standup. But he's also a musician. He has five LPs out, and he crosses the genre boundaries with his brand of entertainment. Some songs are funny, some are serious and dark. The same is true for his brand of comedy.
I'm familiar with your name as a comedian. I've seen you warm up at the Improv for some touring guys, but fill me in on your background as a music person. Five albums! Curious if there are two sides to you musically: funny songs and then just straight-ahead music, or....?
The first album I did was straight comedy songs. Paul Slavens produced it. That was in the late '90s, The last four have been produced by Salim Nourallah. Every album has one or two songs that might be considered funny.
Most local musicians I know possess pretty deep and dark ranges in humor. Was your music experience responsible for playing a big part of developing yourself for comedy? Is writing comedy material a lot like birthing a song? Or a child, for that matter?
I was writing songs before I was writing jokes. My approach is probably no different than everyone else. I have notebooks and scraps of paper and yellow legal pads that have lyrics and words and ideas on them. Sometimes they become a joke and sometimes they become a song.
Trying to get your stand-up material decent exposure can be a lot like trying to get original music exposed, I imagine.
To be honest, I have no idea. I have a website. I have a Facebook page. I'm on Twitter. I'm on Tumblr. I have five albums. I have a podcast called "Things I Thought About Today." And I still feel like nobody knows who the hell I am.
How is the support in Deep Ellum? Dallas Comedy House, Sons of Hermann Hall -- I saw that even Boiler Room has given comedy a shot.
Dallas Comedy House has been great to me. I have a show there, usually twice a month, called "Win Dave Little's Approval". It's part stand-up, part improv, part music. And they host the Dallas Comedy Festival. I do a song swap every month at AllGood Cafe that is a great deal of fun. Twilite, Danny [Balis] and Jess [Barr]s' new bar, has hosted a comedy night that has some potential. But bar shows, in general, can be a beating.
It was a nice surprise to see Twilite have not only music, but stand-up too. I didn't expect entertainment there. Are there some other spots around town you where you do your thing on a recurring basis?
I do the open mic at the Dallas Hyena's on Wednesday. If I don't have a gig elsewhere, I try to do the Backdoor on Friday and/or Saturday. Those are both great places to hang out with other comics and work on material.
Tell us about how your interest in stand-up and music started. Which one popped first?
Growing up, I loved Don Rickles and the Smothers Brothers and Johnny Carson and Bill Cosby and George Carlin and Richard Pryor. In the late '70s I stumbled upon Bowley and Wilson on Lower Greenville. A few years later I was working with them. They supplied me with a lot of the tools I still use today.
And on the music side? Specifically from here ...
Brent Best. Chad Stockslager. Chris Holt. Danny Balis. Carter Albrecht. Salim Nourallah. Trey Johnson. Trey Carmichael. John Pedigo. Taylor Young. Jim Suhler. Laura Harrell. Eric Neal. John Lefler. Lynda Garner. Justin Smith. Don Cento. Rich Martin. John Dufilho. James Driscoll. Gabrielle. LaPlante. That's a good start.
Alternately, who are some of your favorite musician/comedian combos nationally? I'm not able to dig much deeper than Stephen Lynch there.
Henry Phillips. JR Brow. Tim Minchin.
Are there other local artists who excel in both music and comedy like yourself who you care to mention? I can't think of any offhand.
I don't know if I excel in either. But I don't think anyone around here does exactly what I do.
How do you feel about doing this in Dallas? Are we supportive? Are we "a community"?
Everyone I started with has either moved to L.A., quit or died. I think I'm on my third or fourth peer group. I would love to see The Granada and the Kessler and Sons of Hermann use more local comics, even if the main act is music. Comedy and music go hand in hand. But what the hell do I know?