When Devin Gray declared that he was going to be a comedian, his friends and family didn’t think he was being for real. It was only when they saw him doing stand-up on TV that they realised he was not joking. Well he was, but he was serious about it!
Driven by a desire to perform and to exact revenge on his Grade 7 English teacher who told him being a clown would not pan out in life, Devin worked extremely hard to break into the comedy circuit, which he did at age 16. Six years later he is still going strong.
‘I always knew I wanted to perform on stage. I tried music, but I was bad at it. With acting, I could never follow directions, so comedy seemed like a natural fit because I couldn’t really do anything else. I used to go to shows at Parker’s Comedy Club and beg to be on stage. I handed out flyers, put on my own shows and eventually made friends at the venues who helped me get my break.’
His first gig was his high school talent show, but since then, he has performed at the country’s top spots including, Cape Town Comedy Club, Parker’s Comedy Club and Jive Funny Festival. He has appeared on Comedy Central and stages in Europe. Like most comedians, Devin gets his material from everyday life.
‘To me comedy is like writing a book that never gets published, but you get to share it anyway when you are on stage. I live my life outside borders and look at things differently so I always find something funny. I stay away from politics because I don’t care enough about it. I know it affects me, I just don’t know how.’
Audiences love him. From the moment he steps on stage he a powerhouse. His jokes are not only funny, they are relatable. You can see he is dedicated to perfecting his craft. He tests his material at open mic nights, does research so his jokes remain relevant and pays close attention to his body language.
‘You can never test your stuff on friends and family. No matter what they’ll say, they love it. The only way to test it is to perform and see the audience’s reaction. You also have to pay close attention to the variables in your material, because you can get it wrong so easily when you perform in different areas. That’s why I always find out about the places I perform at, so the jokes land. I also watch all my performances and make notes to improve my performance. I look at things like gestures, what works and what doesn’t. It’s actually something I learnt from Trevor [Noah], a friend of his told me Trevor watches all his performances to to see his body language because it’s very important.’
There is no doubt that Devin Gray is a comedian on the rise. If you have not witnessed his particular brand of funny, you can catch him at the Cape Town Comedy Club from Tuesday 26 April – Sunday 1 May.
Photography courtesy Lauren Lesley Bubb