Thursday, 20 December 2012 13:17

Godfrey: From Warm-up Comedian to Shaq's Right-Hand Man

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Dr. Grins, Grand Rapids
Jan 17-19, show times at 5:30, 8, 9 and 10:30 p.m.
$10-$15, (616) 356-2000

At the beginning of his comedy career, Godfrey C. Danchimah, Jr. felt his name was a bit of a mouthful for open mic nights around town. So, for the sake of simplification (and memorability), he decided to shorten it. Thus was born the comedian known as Godfrey.

In 1995, after a few years of building up his comedy chops at local Chicago comedy clubs, Godfrey took on a job as warm-up comedian for the show "Cosby," which was no small task for a young performer. His responsibilities included performing in front of the studio (as well as for Bill Cosby himself sometimes) as a warm-up before the show was taped.

"I had to work hard in front of [Cosby], because, you know, you want to work hard in front of him," Godfrey said.

For an entire season he performed his stand-up material, modifying his routine to fit the more family oriented nature of the show.

Godfrey also soaked in all the information he could about how television works.

"It helped me to know what it was like to be on the inside as far as how they work a sitcom and how they rehearse. I really got educated on that."

After his gig for "Cosby" ended, Godfrey went on to perform in front of the cameras as the spokesman for 7 Up during the "Make 7 Up Yours" campaign, and segued into bigger projects and films such as Zoolander and Soul Plane. For a comedian still making a name for himself, getting such projects took a lot of preparation and auditioning.

"You're well off when you're really famous because they just put you in stuff. That's what I'm waiting for, to get really famous."

Nonetheless, he has steadily found work in TV and film throughout his career and managed to maintain a devoted following in the comedy club circuit. He also found camaraderie among his peers, which recently helped him to secure a recurring guest role on the Emmy Award-winning "Louie."

"Louis C.K. ['Louie star and creator], I've known for a long time, and I think his show is amazing. To be on his show for both first and second seasons is a privilege."

January through February of 2013, Godfrey will have a new project airing on Tru TV called "Shaq Upload."

"It's like 'Tosh.0,' but it's me and Shaq and another comedian, Gary Owen, and we're the co-hosts, and we just make fun of videos and do sketches."

He also plans on continuing with his rigorous tour schedule, which is a chance to further refine his craft.

"I think that getting better in comedy is taking more chances and being willing to not stay stuck in a rut. Everyone gets stuck in a rut. But some comedians do the same stuff and don't really try to grow, and I always try to do something new and take chances."

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