Exclusive Interview: Comedian and Actor, David A. Arnold, Helps Us Laugh Through Coronavirus
Comedy is the best medicine, especially in the times such as this with the Coronavirus pandemic. So comedian and actor, David A. Arnold’s, stand-up, Fat Ballerina, couldn’t have been released at an even better time such as this.
A standup comic, actor and writer, David A. Arnold is triple threat in the world of comedy. As a comedian, he has performed all around the country and made various tv appearances. He is known for his ART OF STANDDUP COMEDY (AOSC) master classes.
For 11 years, he has taught the AOSC master classes to hundreds of novice and veteran comedians. The AOSC class covers everything from structuring a joke to finding your comedic voice. Standouts among the many successful AOSC alumni include ABFF Comedy Wings Competition winners Zainab Johnson, Daphnique Springs and Amberia Allen, Tony Baker (Last Comic Standing), actors London Brown (HBO’s BALLERS) and James Davis (Comedy Central’s HOOD ADJACENT) as well as semi-finalist Jackie Fabulous of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT. Currently, AOSC boasts a waiting list of more than 300 people.
I recently interviewed Mr. Arnold where he chatted ore about his Netflix special, endeavors, and what inspired him to get into comedy.
Naomi K. Bonman: For starters, who is David Arnold?
David A. Arnold: David Arnold is someone who’s…it’s David A. Arnold. If you don’t put in the A you’re gonna get the white man that does all the soundtracks to James Bond, which I’m sure everybody will Google and be like ‘Who the hell is this?’, (laughs) he doesn’t look funny at all (laughs). But I’m a David A. Arnold. I’m a stand up comedian and television producer who probably has been making people laugh behind the scenes way longer than they even know. And now with my Netflix special, I’ve gotten a chance to come out and put a face to my comedy and my style of comedy, so with that and with the spark of my social media following, I got a chance to be seen. So I’m this dude who’s finally getting a chance for the world to see what I already I know, which is I’m funny.
Naomi K. Bonman: (laughs): And it’s working, I love it! So speaking of your Netflix special, Fat Ballerina, how does it feel to finally have your special on Netflix and what was the process like to get there?
David A Arnold: It feels great to have a special on Netflix because you finally get a chance to be seen on a world stage and get a chance to share stuff that you’ve been working on. As comedians that we do. We’re working on stuff in hopes to be able to share it on a national stage. and the things that you work on for years sometimes, you’re finally able to see people react to it. It’s kind of dope.
The process was long. I’ve been doing stand-up for 24 years. This was my third special, and my first first one that has been on a platform this large. It was working out; it was working the material out for many years. It was being denied. It was being turned down. It was being passed on and then eventually taking matters into my own hands and self-producing and putting the money up to do it and then getting my friend Kevin Hart to get behind me, and my management jumped on and was like, ‘This is good stuff”. And then with them behind it we took it over to Netflix and they looked at and had to put it up, so it was a process, but the part that I love the most is that I did it myself and I invested in myself because I believed in myself and it paid off.
Naomi K. Bonman: That is dope! We definitely have to invest in ourselves first.
David A. Arnold: Yeah, a lot of people won’t do that. A lot of people think they’re great. But are you great enough to put up 50, 200, 50,000 dollars on your idea if you had it to do so? A lot of people aren’t willing to do that. A lot of people will say that they’re good but that they need their money. You have to really believe. I’ve always been that guy from the beginning. From all of the short films that I wrote, directed and starred in, in 2005, I did a bunch of short films, and all of them I put my own money up and they all won awards at various film festivals around the country. I’ve never had a problem and that’s the one things I’m always going to bet on…David. Because I do the work. So that’s the dope part about it.
Naomi K. Bonman: So I was able to watch a few clips of Fat Ballerina and I definitely loved what I watched so far. So for those who have not tuned in yet, without giving too much away, what can people except from the special?
David A. Arnold: It’s going to take you on a journey through family and relationships, and marriage. It’s a real look at that stuff from my perspective, and I always tell people this set is for grown men who pay the bills. This a’int a set for if you gotta a little boyfriend and ya’ll splitting the rent and some of the stuff might not be for you, but truth of the matter is I do family, I do relationships. It’s all speaking of who I am. It speaks of the pettiness of the person that I am and how I see the world, and it’s actually very smart. I’m very proud of the work that we did.
Naomi K. Bonman: I haven’t gotten to watch the whole thing yet, but I love what I seen so far.
David A. Arnold: It’s doing good! My favorite is when I get people who hit me on social media and are are like, “Oh, my god! I’m only two and half minutes in and I can’t breathe!” (laughs)
Naomi K. Bonman: (laughs) Right…
David A. Arnold: That’s my favorite part; that when people get in and like right off the bat I come out just swinging. I think that to me is the best part. The retention rate on it is very high which is also dope for streaming stuff, so I’m very proud of that.
Naomi K. Bonman: So what inspired you to get into comedy? Have you always wanted to be a comedian or were you just thrown into it?
David A. Arnold: Well, when you graduate from high school with a 1.8, you a’int got too many choices…in life, so I always knew that I loved making people laugh. I was never the class clown, but I’ve always had this thing for storytelling and I feel that was what made me interested in it. Then I saw D.L. Hughley do it in the 90s when I was in the Navy and that’s when I was like, “Oh, I think I can do this. I can tell so many stories.” And that’s the kind of thing that got me into it. So after I got out of the military, I started doing that. I was kind of late in my life of getting started, but that’s when I started doing it and I haven’t looked back since.
Naomi K. Bonman: Awesome! That’s very inspiring. So in addition to comedy, you’re also an actor. You’ve been in The Real Husbands of Hollywood and the House Of Pain, just to name a few. So do you have any TV/Film projects that you’re currently working on as far as acting?
David A. Arnold: Well, I’m developing a show right now with Kevin Hart that’s based off a bit that I did in the stand-up special. I’m also in development for my next stand-up special. We already got a deal for another one, so I’m working on that. And I produce a lot of television. I produce and write. I write House of Payne and Meet the Browns. I wrote a show called Fuller Houseon Netflix. I wrote season 4 and 5 of that. I also wrote Real Husbands of Hollywood, a show called Zoe Ever After with Brandy. I’ve been writing and producing television for awhile. Before the virus shut us down, I was producing a show for some YouTubers called Jayden and Annie over at Nickelodeon. So I’m up and down the scale from some crazy comedies like Real Husbands of Hollywood to kid’s YouTube, like Jayden and Annie on Nickelodeon, so I’ve done all of it.
But I’m excited to show people the next special and ‘n excited to hopefully be able to get this television show based on my stand-up on the air. That would be kind of dope to get a chance for people to see more of who I am. So, yeah, I’m excited about that.
Naomi K. Bonman: You definitely stay busy and productive! That’s good though.
David A. Arnold: Mhmmmm! Got to feed these kids! (laughs)
Naomi K. Bonman: (laughs): So before the virus, you were headlining the Essence Festival’s comedy segment with Deon Cole, but as we know it got postponed to next year. But do you know if they’ll keep the same line-up? Can we except to see you there in 2021?
David A. Arnold: I don’t know if it’ll be the same line-up, but I love Deon Cole. Deon is a good friend of mine, so anytime that you get a chance to work with your friends is always dope. I don’t know if the line-up will be the same. Hopefully, when the time comes everybody’s schedule’s will line up and I’ll be available to do it. But I was doing that and I was doing TD Jakes’ A Time to Laugh tour that would’ve been starting as well. So it’s a lot of things that got postponed, so right now we’re just trying to get through this period. I’m using this time to do a lot of writing and to do a lot of research on my next stand-up special because that I can’t actually go out and perform and get it ready, but I am collecting information and getting the idea that I’m ready to tackle, so when it is time to go, I can go.
Naomi K. Bonman: So what is one fun fact that most probably do not know about David A. Arnold?
David A. Arnold: That I used to be a registered nurse and I worked as a nurse for many years while I was pursuing my stand-up comedy. I ran a family practice clinic in Culver city across the street from Sony Studios. I would work all day as a nurse, get off work, go to the comedy club and spend all night at the Comedy Store, the Laugh Factory, [and] Impov, trying to hone my stand-up skills until I got to a place where essentially the stand-up and the writing and producing actually started bringing me more work and took too much time that I had to step away from the nursing. So I served in the military then I worked in the medical field for 10 years after that.
Naomi K. Bonman: Interesting. What advice do you have for aspiring comedians, actors or writers that are striving for their big break?
David A. Arnold: Here’s my advice to anybody who’s striving for anything in the arts: One, it’s supposed to be hard; Two, every single obstacle that you encounter is put in the way for one reason, to weed out the weak and the people who don’t have what it takes to stand in there and keep fighting; And three, as long as you continue to strive to be what your voice is or whatever it is that you want to do, if you write, write; if it’s stand-up, do stand-up; if you act, act…You don’t need to wait for nobody. We live in a time in a world where you can shoot it, write it, and present it yourself. If you’re comedian, you can put stuff out there in the world. If you put something out there and there’s something to it, people will respond. 18 months ago I had 1,800 followers, then I decided to start putting my comedic voice on social media, not I have over 700,000 between Facebook and Instagram in literally less than two years. That’s just from me putting yup what I think is funny and people when they think that it’s funny they’re going to tell other people that this guy or girl is funny and that you should go watch them do whatever it is that they do. So that’s my advice, if you say that you want to do it, just do it. And just know that it’s going to be hard and it’s supposed to be.
Naomi K. Bonman: I love that advice! And how can people follow you?
David A. Arnold: On Instagram, it’s @thedavidaarnold or @davidaarnold across the board on Facebook and Twitter. You’ve got to use that ‘A’, if you put in David A. Arnold, you can find me everywhere. But if you don’t put that ‘A’, you’ll get the soundtrack composer from the James Bond movies. (laughs)
Naomi K. Bonman (laughs): Thank you David! And is there anything else you want to leave the people with?
David A. Arnold: If you haven’t seen Fat Ballerina, go to Netflix and check it out. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and please everybody keep your asses at the house so we can get out of here. The more we stay home and do what they tell us to do for a little while, the sooner we can go back out here in the streets and do what we were doing before.
Naomi K. Bonman: Thank you so much David!
David A. Arnold: I appreciate you1 Looking forward to reading and seeing this. Thank you so much!
Naomi K. Bonman: You’re welcome. Stay safe.