Doug Williams

Doug Williams, Do What You Love and Never Work a Day in Your Life

Written By: Adam Higgins

“Do what you love and never work a day in your life”

Doug Williams stands on stage in a gray suit dishing jokes to a full D.C. auditorium. He is the host for this evenings comedy show taping for the Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment Stand-Up. As the host, he makes sure the mood is correctly set before introducing the upcoming acts.

Williams brings a white man on stage at one point during the show, and teaches him how to dance. A seemingly easy dance move to maneuver, yet the white guy’s dancing appears to look more like a seizure says Williams. The crowd goes bananas. Martin Lawrence curls over in laughter in the balcony.

Williams is having fun. The audience is having fun. Although with all the fun and laughter, his performance doesn’t appear to be work. This is Williams’s job – fun and jokes.

“Do what you love and never work a day in your life”, says Williams.

This is contrary to most men’s lives. Most men don’t have fun at work. Fun is not the adjective that first comes to mind when describing work. Typically, you hear words like grind. The true definition of grinding sucks. When you grind an item, you take something large and crush the item with force to reduce to small pieces.

Who loves hour snail pace long commutes combined with 10 hours of grinding?

Americans work too hard. 85.8 percent of men work more than 40 hours of week. Americans live for weekends, and set aside those two days for fun.

Williams is the anomaly. Blessed with the opportunity to have a career to not stare at a clock waiting for five to hit. He travels across the world making people laugh, and forget about their work week.

Williams, a Montgomery Alabama native, grew up in the church. Black southern pastors preach the gospel, and also put on a show. Pastors captivate the audience with a melodic cadence and witty lines. Although orators of the word of God, they are entertainers too.

“I remember at an early age watching my preacher make people so happy. People would leave the church so enthused and so full of energy. A lot of people would come to church depressed and beat up from life. To watch the congregation come in one condition and leave in another, it was so inspiring.”

Preachers make people feel good. Williams wanted to the do the same. His first attempt at entertainment was to be a rapper.

During the golden era of hip hop, rap was on the tip about stopping the violence with braids, beads and medallions. He was in a pro-black rap group that spoke about the plight of black social problems, and Williams raps were about big women in spandex. His humorous jokes didn’t jive with his group members, and he was kicked out the group.

He had a knack for making people laugh. His group members recommended he pursue comedy rather than rapping.

Taking the advice from his former group member, he debuts in 1990 as a stand–up comedian at a comedy club in Huntsville, The Comedy Club. The debut was an open mic night competition to be the resident MC.

He didn’t win.

“Once I saw I can make money from comedy. I saw that I can earn money from something I love to do. I did it for free for so many years. I had the passion for it. This was my calling I felt.”

However, that night he met Steve Harvey. While Steve Harvey was in town, he mentored Williams. Steve Harvey takes Williams to the mall, and shows him how to dress. He advises Williams to dress like you are going to work. He watches Williams’ sets, and gives him notes and suggestions. The short comedic incubator week with Steve Harvey kick starts his comedy career.

Williams continues to work on his sets, and studies great comedians from the era of Red Fox and Richard Prior. He empathizes with the same pastor-destressing effect that earlier comedians had on black audiences during that period.

“I was really a student of the earlier comedians. They had to make people laugh at a time the nation was undergoing a facelift in terms of racial equality. To be able to make people laugh during those times was inspiring to me.”

While attending Alabama State University, a professor introduces him to a manager. The manager encourages Williams to immediately leave for Los Angeles. With a class away from graduation, he left to Los Angeles in 1995.

He arrives in Los Angeles, and just in two months he lands a role in the film Nutty Professor in the famous scene as the host of the comedy club that roasts Professor Clump (Eddie Murphy).

“Once I saw I can make money from comedy. I saw that I can earn money from something I love to do. I did it for free for so many years. I had the passion for it. This was my calling I felt.”

He’s able to fill up his calendar with gigs and performs on numerous television shows from BET’s Comic View to Showtime at the Apollo.

Currently, he is the ambassador for the urban movie channel where comedy lovers can stream hours of comedy specials like Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment Stand-Up.

Bob Johnson, who created niche black programing for television takes the concept to the web. The urban movie channel (UMC) is a streaming subscription platform much like Netflix or Hulu. However, the programming tailors to urban audiences.

Streaming services have revitalized careers for series that didn’t quite make the ratings needed for television. However, the series worked well on stream services as binge watchers divulge into marathon consumption. UMC has over 150 titles in the library, and plans to produce original programing.  

“This is a new place where we can go and take our projects. We’re not always able to get our stuff on primetime networks. A lot of times when you pitch a project, it is not that they don’t find it interesting or good. It’s just they don’t get it.  Here you can bring programs or movies to people who understand it. It’s a whole new outlet to get your material out. To me that’s priceless.”

Success can be measured various ways. Some men measure success on the values of tangible items – house, car, clothes, or gadgets. Other men measure on status or power. For Williams, success is simple.  Success is having a career you love.

 “What I’ve learned. True success is being happy at what you are doing, and able to make a living doing it. I’m proud that I was able to make thousands of thousands of people laugh, people happy, and in doing so was able to take care of my wife and kids. That type of success goes unnoticed.”