Tommy Davidson is an actor, comedian, writer, and musician. He has a wife and two children. We had a conversation about being a celebrity dad, shared travel experiences, and talked about his new show Vacation Creation. And I couldn’t help but talk about one show in particular that impacted my life.
(JG stands for Jason Greene and TD stands for Tommy Davidson)
JG: I write about fatherhood and traveling with kids, so I was excited when I read about Vacation Creation.
TD: Those are all my subjects. We have that in common.
JG: Before we talk about Vacation Creation, I watched In Living Color when I was in high school and I was at that impressionable age and it was a massive impact on my life. I loved the show and when I watched it, I thought, “That’s what I want to do with my life.” It didn’t end out the way I had planned, but I wanted to make people think and make them laugh.
TD: How’s that going so far?
JG: I moved to New York City to become an actor, but then I had kids and everything changed for me. I have no regrets. I’m where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
TD: That would be my life. We’re similar in that fashion.
JG: How did In Living Color change your life? I know you were big on the comedy scene, but not too many 16-year-old kids knew your name.
TD: Preparation met opportunity. I was just a kid from Maryland and lucky enough to get into a program in high school where I was cooking in kitchens and that was going really well, but I had a friend that thought I was funny and said I should move to LA. Long story short, I moved to LA and spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do. Finally, In Living Color comes along, not knowing much about it, but the creator loved me. The rest is history. It’s like your history. You watched me in high school, I watched Eddie Murphy.
JG: Did your kids inherit your funny genes?
TD: Only one of them. The rest are serious kids.
JG: And do you give him tips?
TD: Yes, but she’s a her and she doesn’t listen.
JG: I’m always interested in how celebrity parents feel when they are out in public with their family and someone approaches wanting an autograph or a picture, and you’re just wanting to hang out with your kids.
TD: I’ll tell them that. Sometimes they won’t let me. But it’s not a big deal. Take two seconds out of our day to take a picture or sign an autograph for someone that might want to see a movie of mine someday or loves my work.
JG: That’s nice. I see a lot of celebrities in New York and have always felt it odd when people want a picture with a celebrity when they’re out with kids.
TD: It isn’t a big deal to me, but it can be to some people. I try to keep things simple.
JG: How did having kids change your life?
TD: I started actually thinking about my future. Started thinking about their college and saving money. Things became really serious. I went from having a job to having a plan.
JG: Before working on Vacation Creation, was traveling a big part of your life?
TD: Not at all. The show came along and looked great. The next thing you know, I’m traveling around the world.
JG: That sounds like me on a smaller scale. I’ve been writing about fatherhood for about 7 years and I received a message asking if I would bring my family and write about a location. One thing led to another and now I’m traveling the world with my family. I went nowhere as a kid and lived through National Geographic magazines.
TD: Me too. And now I’m seeing those places.
JG: Where’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled so far?
TD: Probably Catania, Columbia. It’s beautiful. It’s on the Caribbean side and is like Cuba or Puerto Rico. I had no idea before I visited.
JG: Where is your favorite place to take your kids?
TD: (Laughs) Probably Orlando. It’s so easy. You get a hotel and take them to Disney World and places like that.
JG: Yeah, Orlando is tough to beat as a family destination. I saw you were in Barcelona.
TD: That’s a beautiful place.
JG: Barcelona is one of my favorite places. We were there and reminded my kids every few steps to keep their eyes on the sand.
TD: Because of their cell phones?
JG: No, because there’s a lot more skin on the beach than they’re used to.
How about food when you’re out?
TD: Everything. I eat everything.
Me. You’re not picky?
TD: Not picky… I’m like a grizzly bear. I’ll eat anything.
JG: What’re some of the crazier things you’ve eaten on vacation?
TD: Well, I couldn’t do it. But I was offered escargot, which is basically snails.
JG: I was in the Kwa Zulu Natal region of South Africa and were given homemade beer in a traditional Zulu village. We were shown how it is made and then lined up for a drink. I was the last one in line and we all shared the same bucket and cup. I should have skipped to the front.
On Vacation Creation, you’re offering once in a lifetime trips to people who have gone through or are going through a tough time. Are there any particular stories that have stayed with you long after the taping wrapped?
TD: All of them. The last one was with an 11-year-old girl diagnosed with cancer. She was on radiation and her cancer went into remission. We took her to Norway. All over Norway. She saw fjords and had a beautiful time with a big smile on her face. It’s back-to-back weeks like that for me.
JG: How do you come down after being on an emotional rollercoaster like that.
TD: I don’t know man. I kind of wait for what’s next.
JG: A lot of these Vacation Creation trips are cruises. Are you a cruise guy?
TD: I wasn’t before the show, but I am now. I didn’t really know what a cruise was and basically, it’s a hotel that moves. You go to bed and wake up the next morning in a different country.
JG: I wasn’t a cruise guy until I went on one. I didn’t want to be stuck with some people I don’t like…
TD: And see them again, and again, and again.
JG: Right. You’re stuck with them. But after going on one cruise, I was hooked.
TD: The thing about this Planet Earth is, you will always be around people. Doesn’t matter where you go, there will always be people. I was in Alaska and I looked around and thought, “Okay, I conquered Planet Earth.”
JG: Besides Vacation Creation, what else do you have planned?
TD: A lot. A comedy special, a television show, a Sammy Davis movie. Just finished a game show with Byron Allen, Funny You Should Ask. And movies with my production company and writing a book.
JG: Busy life. One final question I need help with. My wife and I have an argument every time we travel to Paris or another major European city. My wife doesn’t want me wearing jeans because she thinks I’ll look like a tourist. I think it doesn’t matter what I wear because I will look like a tourist no matter what. Should I dress the way I want or listen to my wife?
TD: Man, listen to your wife. Wear what she wants. It’s less energy.
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