Donnell Rawlings: Ashy To Classy

Since the Chappelle Show hit TV airwaves three years ago, middle-class America, college frat boys and Hip-Hop heavyweights like Lil Jon have all shared a common interest – their ability to laugh at intense foul language and poke fun of the most mainstream stereotypes. Donnell Rawlings, known to most fans as “Ashy Larry,” took a front seat as the success of the show flew to unimaginable heights, never expecting to be left sitting while the star of the show disappeared.

Not one to sit around and wait, Donnell began doing comedy tours with fellow co-stars Charlie Murphy and Bill Burr, and while most celebrities make a conscious effort to keep up their Hollywood look, his unkempt personal appearance as “Ashy Larry” has become his breakthrough character. Whether he’s calling out top artists to battle rap him on the New York radio show Live in the Den, talking about the his relationship with Dave, or giving us an inside look at the third season of the Chappelle Show, Season 3: The Lost Episodes, Donnell is here to tell America that both he and Ashy Larry are here to stay.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: What have you been up to since the end of the second season of the Chappelle Show?

Donnell Rawlings: Well, currently I’m working on a film called Twist the Cap with Charlie Murphy, Tracy Morgan, and a couple of other guys. I’ve been co-hosting on a syndicated radio show in New York called Live in the Den with Big Tigger and Egypt – and I’ve been using my penis in a professional manner.

AHHA: I actually heard that you battle rappers on the radio show

Donnell Rawlings: First off, it’s a rumor that I battle rap people, it’s the truth that I destroy ni**as. I’ve battled Beenie Man, Ja [Rule] – ya know, I made him re-wind his career. I’ve battled Daddy Yankee with the Reggaeton, I’ve battled Busta Rhymes and I blew up his Big Bang Theory. I didn’t battle Kirk Franklin, but I just let him know his is the only gospel form that makes me wanna drop it like it’s hot. I tried to reach out to G-Unit, I ain’t get no call back, I think they’re a little nervous of my ashy skills. I like to battle the best, ya know – Jay-Z can get it, Juvenile can get it, and I ride dirty with Chamillionaire. I would battle Bow Wow, but he too young and I don’t wanna contribute to delinquency of a minor.

AHHA: I know how important stand-up is for a comedian, are you currently on tour doing shows?

Donnell: Well, I’m not on tour with Charlie anymore, I’m doin’ my own thing. I’ve been doin’ a lot of work out of New York ‘cause it’s hard for me to tour right now since I co-host on Live in the Den.

AHHA: Now that you and Charlie Murphy will be hosting the third season of the Chappelle Show, what can the audience expect and how will it differ from previous seasons?

Donnell: People think it’s gonna differ ‘cause me and Charlie have a little more involvement, but what people don’t understand is we’re not taking the show over, it’s not like Dave is not gonna be there. We’re basically guest-hosting for his show ‘cause Dave is still in 95 percent of all the sketches, we’re just holdin’ the fort down til Dave decides what he wants to do. The shows not gonna differ, the only thing is you won’t see Dave performing on stage, and that was only like two percent of the show anyway. Same format, same writers, same producers, same funniness. Some people ask the questions “Will it work? Is it a good idea?”, but Comedy Central had a decision to make. They had some sketches left from before Dave took off and fans are eager to see them, so I think it was a smart idea to have the second most recognizable faces on the show do it. Had it been Steve Harvey hosting the show, maybe it would have been questionable.

AHHA: Was Ashy Larry a character you created, or did the writers come up with the idea and have you play him?

Donnell: Well, it was a combination. That sketch was written by Dave and Neal Brennan, and the character originally had the same outfit, he was supposed to be in his underwear with socks and shoes. But when Neal told me I was gonna be playing that character, I wanted to really get into it. I said, “I want to be ashy as hell, I wanna be so ashy I can write how much money people owe me on the side of my leg.” Neal relayed it to Dave, and Dave felt the level of ashy-ness I was tryin’ to portray. So, ya know, “Larry” was their idea, “Ashy” was my idea and that’s how “Ashy Larry” was born.

AHHA: Did you ever expect “Ashy Larry” to blow up the way he did when you were taping the skit?

Donnell: Well, when we were taping the sketch, I didn’t know it was gonna blow up like that. I was just hoping that after taping, this Ashy guy would be able to use his penis in a professional manner.

AHHA: Just so we understand the difference between “Ashy Larry” and Donnell Rawlings, because it seems they both have the same interests at this point, what would “Ashy Larry” have playing on his iPod right now?

Donnell: He’s a little angry at the world so he would definitely have some DMX. And ya know he

like white people, so he’d have a little Nickleback in there too.

AHHA: And how about Donnell Rawlings?

Donnell: Donnell would have [laughs] “Penis in a Professional Manner” the soundtrack, and he’d probably have a remix of “Penis in a Professional Manner” with Beyonce’, Keyshia Cole and Mariah Carey.

AHHA: [laughs] It seems that people who worked behind the scenes of the Chappelle Show, as well as onscreen have been tight-lipped about the whole ordeal [with Dave leaving]. From what you know, what caused things to pan out the way they did?

Donnell: Well, to be totally honest, I don’t exactly know the reasons Dave had to leave the show. Some speculations were that the material wasn’t as funny as seasons one and two – wrong. Some believe that Dave had a drug problem – wrong. Some people believe that Dave had conflict with executives at Comedy Central – wrong. I don’t have a reason for why he left, but I don’t think it was the most professional or most courteous thing to do the way he handled the situation. I think it’s kinda weird, ya know, people question you about your mental stability and you tell people you’re not nuts, but as soon as you come back from Africa you throw a block party, ya know?

AHHA: So, did you attend the block party?

Donnell: Nah, I was too busy playin’ with my penis.

AHHA: Dave has made public comments about the people he worked with on the show, somewhat insinuating they had something to do with him leaving the show. How do you feel about that being someone who worked closely with him?

Donnell: I don’t really know the internal mechanisms of Mr. Chappelle’s brain, but I know from my relationship with some of the people who were close to him that I never saw any examples of anyone being deceitful or anything and from my side of it, from what I saw, it looked like everybody that was around him, was loyal and committed to making a good show.

AHHA: Have you been in contact with him since his departure from the show?

Donnell: No, I bumped into him though at a comedy club in New York and I had just performed for a packed house and had fans asking me typical questions like, “Where’s Dave? Do I think he’s ever gonna come back to the show?” I remember telling one of them that I didn’t know, ultimately it was a decision between Dave and Comedy Central. Then I turned around and Dave was like 12 inches from my face and it was weird ’cause I had mixed feelings, I wanted to smack him and hug him all at the same time.

AHHA: So what did you do?

Donnell: [laughs] I said, “What’s up?”

AHHA: What’s the one thing you want everyone reading this to know?

Donnell: I’m broke b**ch. Dave come back, Africa’s not as good as you thought it was. Also, “Ashy Larry” ain’t goin’ nowhere. I really am going from ashy to classy, but once I make it real big I might have make a name change to be more classy. I’ll be “Ashford Lawrence, formally known as Ashy Larry.”

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