Brad Williams has overcome a lot to become a big shot in the comedy world. The Orange County native was born with achondroplasia, a condition associated with dwarfism, and learned to hone a razor-sharp wit early in life as a means of saving himself from beatdowns by bullies and to gain popularity with his peers.
That childhood training has paid off big-time in his adulthood, as he has spent the past decade soaring through the ranks of the standup comedy world, ascending from his start as a daredevil sidekick to comic Carlos Mencia on the Comedy Central series Mind of Mencia to starring in two of his own Showtime specials: Fun Size and Daddy Issues. His topics go well beyond riffs on his size to include deeper stories from his life in addition to tackling issues of family, race and child rearing in today’s society.
But one thing that audiences won’t see when he plays the Levity Live Comedy Club in Oxnard this weekend is a heavy dose of current-events comedy. Williams believes that audiences are saturated with poisonous partisanship, and he promises to deliver a healthy antidote of just plain funniness throughout his six-show run from Thursday through Sunday.
“I try to avoid politics, because we’re getting enough of that in every walk of life, every single area, with late-night talk show hosts, athletes, and everyone’s like ‘My voice must be heard,’ ” says Williams, speaking from a tour stop in Erie, Pennsylvania. “No, some shouldn’t be. You have every right in this country to speak out against whatever you want to, but people kind of forget that freedom of speech means you have the right not to respond.”
“I’ll fight for your rights but I cannot buy your album, see your movie, go to your comedy show or buy your clothing,” adds Williams. “Trump was literally here two days ago having a rally. I talked to some people after the show, with some Trump supporters and haters. There’s good people in all walks and bad in all walks of life. If you come to my show, you’ll be able to forget that stuff just for an evening. I will let you be free.”
One thing that vexes Williams presently is the current wave of emotional support animals sweeping the nation. While he recognizes the genuine need by some for a dog that can soothe frayed psyches, some of the more outré examples are starting to get on his last nerve.
“I don’t have a lot of pet peeves, but I’m not a fan of fake emotional support animals,” says Williams. “There was a story just now in the news of a woman with an emotional support squirrel who got kicked off a plane. She says she’ll sue and own the airline. I say great! Own the airline, then get on board with all the other fakes and have the pilot send it right into a mountain.”
Williams scored his big break when he was an audience member at a Carlos Mencia show at the Brea Improv in 2006. Mencia was “making midget jokes” and noticed that much of the audience wasn’t laughing. When the controversial comic asked the audience if “one of them” was there, Williams “raised my creepy little hand in the air and said ‘Hey dude, what’s up?’ ”
Mencia brought Williams onstage to answer questions, and he proved to be an instant hit. He soon began a long and lucrative run with Mencia, including three seasons on the Comedy Central sketch series Mind of Mencia, which took pride in being as politically incorrect as possible and lasted three seasons. When the show ended in 2008, Williams was an instant headliner and never looked back.
“I could have quit many times after many bad sets when I was learning during Mind,” recalls Williams. “My parents threatened me that I had to go back to college or they’d cut me out of the will. I said OK and kept doing comedy. If you wanna be successful you have to be all in, be poor, be booed and bomb and go through horrible experiences. That’s what you have to do. And I’ve done it and come through the other side.”
Brad Williams performs Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 18-21, at Levity Live Comedy Club, 591 Collection Drive, Oxnard. For tickets, set times and more information, call 805-457-5550 or visit oxnard.levitylive.com.