Funny Style

Comedian Donnell Rawlings has lots of game on stage—and a little on the court.
by January 20, 2015
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You probably know Donnell Rawlings as “Ashy Larry” and for coining the phrase, “I’m rich, biatch!” on Dave Chappelle’s eponymous show. The native of Washington, DC, who was a military policeman in the US Air Force and a full-time comedy club heckler before becoming a standup comedian, knows better than anyone that his run on Comedy Central’s groundbreaking sketch comedy series was the opportunity of a lifetime. He’s gone on to great success, from his own hour-long special to MTV’s Guy Code and Guy Court to parody music videos like the hilarious, Too Short-assisted “Save A Bitch” and “Lotion.” While getting ready for his latest stand-up show, Rawlings spoke with us about growing up as a Bullets fan, his thoughts on Chappelle’s comeback and why the three-pointer he nailed on Kevin Durant was the highlight of his basketball career.

SLAM: You were born in DC. Were you a Bullets fan?

Donnell Rawlings: Don’t say Bullets. You gon’ try to say how old I am, son! I was a Wizards fan. I don’t know nothin’ about Wes Unseld or Abe Polin or none of them people. All I know is I’m a Wizards fan.

SLAM: Who was your favorite player growing up?

DR: I appreciated Wes Unseld, but then it seemed like the Bullets was turning into the UniverSoul Circus. They had Muggsy Bogues and Manute Bol on the same team?! I was like, Is this is a basketball team or a sideshow?!

SLAM: How did you go from the military to comedy?

DR: After the military, I had already taken the test to be a DC cop; in the interim I used to work security in DC and a lot of employees used to go to open mic comedy shows. I went as a heckler and the owner wanted me to shut up, so he challenged me to go on stage and I’ve been doing it ever since.

SLAM: Who’s the funniest player in the NBA?

DR: I know when Shaq was playing he was funny, but I don’t know who brings that playful energy anymore.

SLAM: Are you rooting for Dave Chappelle’s comeback?

DR: Of course. One-hundred percent. It’s not really a comeback, ’cause he never went anywhere, as far as standup. Dave’s a comedian’s comedian who takes it serious. People like that, you can’t keep them from a microphone for too long. I was part of the Radio City Music Hall run, so I’m pro-Dave in whatever he wanna do.

SLAM: Do you mind people still calling you Ashy Larry?

DR: It’s gon’ be something I take to my grave. Partially because of the show and because I really am ashy. Dave asked me what am I gon’ do to prepare for this role and I was like, Just wait 30 minutes. Anybody that knows me knows that I stay ashy.

SLAM: Who’s your favorite player in the League?

DR: Stephen Curry. I watch him because I connect with him. He’s fluent, a technician, making things look so easy. He was spinning a basketball on his finger when he came out the womb.

SLAM: You a closet Warriors fan?

DR: I would want the Wizards to beat the Warriors but I would want Stephen to bust 40 on us. Same way people weren’t fans of Chicago, but of Jordan. I root for the Knicks, too, because I was a New Yorker for 14 years.

SLAM: Do you still play?

DR: One year, when I used to do the radio with Big Tigger, he had a celebrity tournament. Kevin Durant gets a rebound, coming up the court. I don’t know what I’m thinking, I said, I’m gonna defend Kevin Durant. Durant comes past me, dribbles around my back, between my legs and some kind of way I reached out and stole the ball. The whole crowd’s like, “Go Ashy!” In my mind, I was like, I’m gon’ do a 360 dunk. But I pulled up at the three-point line, prayed in eight different languages that it’ll go in, and the shit went in. I got so excited. I called TO and took myself out the game. I was like, That’s my career. I had a triple-single, son, the highlight of my basketball career.

Maurice Bobb is a SLAM contributor. Follow him on Twitter @ReeseReport.