The difference between doing an impression of Sammy Davis Jr. and actually becoming Sammy Davis Jr. is the difference between an ordinary comic and Tommy Davidson. Sprightly, bursting, and spontaneous, the In Living Color alum is a master of the impromptu performance, often commenting in interviews that his shows are completely improvisational and have been ever since his first unplanned stage performance at a Washington, D.C., strip club.
Davidson, a.k.a. Puff Smokey Smoke
Thursday, June 23, through Sunday, June 26. Tickets cost $21.20. Call 954-981-5653, or visit www.improv.ftl.com.
Improv Paradise Live, 5700 Seminole Way, Hollywood
Like many gifted comics of his generation, Davidson spent his amateur years working odd jobs during the day to support his big dream at night -- though Davidson's came true relatively quickly when he landed an audition in 1990 for the Wayans brothers' breakout hit, In Living Color. With his characteristic, often cross-eyed quirkiness and dead-on celebrity impersonations (including a hysterical rendition of everyone's favorite babysitter, Michael Jackson), he became an instant favorite.
Davidson found wider acclaim shortly after the show ended by acting in a string of goofy-but-essential gems such as Booty Call and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. And who can forget his portrayal of "Puff Smokey Smoke" in 2002's Juwanna Man? (Be patient, biography fans; we're sure James Lipton is doing his best to book Tommy on Inside the Actor's Studio.) In addition to mugging for the cameras, the 40-year-old can slay a live audience, as evidenced by his three Showtime specials. Having recently returned to the comedy club scene, Davidson's busier than ever, as he completes the last two episodes of the Disney Channel's long-running animated series The Proud Family, in which he provides the voice of the main character's dad, the owner of a snack food company, Oscar Proud.