The People’s Champ: An Interview with Playwright Chris Davis

Chris Davis is a Philly playwright, actor and solo performer. You probably know who he is. Chris has created a number of one man shows and traveled the world performing them. Chris is from Oakland, California and speaks fluent Spanish. I worked with Chris on a show a number of years ago and was impressed by the amount of positivity  and goodwill he brought to the rehearsals and performances.
For some reason I have always thought of Chris Davis as the People’s Champ. After interviewing him, I think I know why.
For more info about his work,



Who are you?
I’m Chris



Why did you say it like that?
I don’t know any other way




How many times have you performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
7 x 25 = 175 times



How long have you been doing theater?
Since High School when I auditioned a lot and never got cast in anything



What drew you to creating solo shows?
Money. I tried producing plays and I realized I’ve never make any money from them. So I figured if I cut everyone else out of my life, there’s a chance I”ll make money.




What was your address in Oakland growing up?
1058 65th street, Oakland, California 94608



What do you experience in your head when you feel positive?



What do you experience in your head when you feel negative?
Bad endorphins.



What do you think about when you are acting?
Don’t fuck up



Have you read Dianetics?



What is the worst production you have been involved in?
I think I mentally blocked ‘it’ out.



What have you been doing for the past four years?
Performing as much as I can and working on a house



Do you have a code you live by?
Always say yes to new opportunities



What is one of the stories from your life you like to share with people for them to get to know you?
I performed a show Drunk Lion in an alleyway (Orange alley I think) in San Francisco. We closed off the alley, performed the show, and then there was a punk band. I thought that was cool.



How many solo shows have you created?
I think it’s 7 now.



Who are some of the people who have influenced your own work?
Everything I’ve read, especially fiction. Lately Karl Von Knausgaard.



Is there a piece of art that makes you feel like everything is going to be okay?
This is usually whatever book I’m reading, so I’ll say volume 3 of My Struggle by Knausgaard.



What patterns of behavior positive and negative can you recognize in your life?
Positive behavior is working hard and trying to create new work even when it feels / seems / will not ‘lead’ anywhere. Negative is anything dealing with addictive substances.



Where have you been in Mexico?
Chiapas, Mexico City, and Guadalajara. Beaches: Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.



What music are you done listening to?
This is hard I never feel done with music. That being said I really don’t like Radiohead’s album Hail to the Thief and I will never listen to it again.



How do you go about creating your solo shows?
Usually something happens in my life or I read a book and I decide to explore that idea. 



How do you define success for yourself?
Staying positive and making new shows, and try not to think about success.




What projects do you have coming up?
I’m going to Germany with One-Man Apocalypse Now in November. Before that I will have two shows at Plays & Players.




How many different versions of yourself are there?



How many pairs of pants do you own?
Two or three. 




Why will you never listen to Hail to the Thief Again?
The song Rain Drops.



What do you mean you are working on a house?
I mean I bought a house and it’s old so I have to fix it.



Do you have any routines you adhere to?
Waking up. Going to sleep late. I find it really hard to have a set routine without a full-time job.



Who is your closest friend?
My partner Hallie Rumsey-Lasersohn.



What has captured your imagination in the work of Karl Von Knausgaard?
His honesty and how forthright he is about his life, and personal flaws.



Where do you see yourself in the Philly Theater community?
Honestly, I have no idea. Somewhere on the outside looking in.



What did you have for dinner last night?
Brined pork chops and broccoli florets.



What is your relationship with books you have read?
I feel like they become a part of me throughout the rest of my life.



Were you worried about Y2K?
I was yes, I bought into some of the hysteria.



Where did you spend New Years 2000?
Damn I can’t remember. I think I was in California with my mom at a New Year’s Eve party.



What do you hang on your walls of your domicile?’
I have a lot of prints of paintings. I just bought an Edward Hicks piece. I have that Dega Ballet piece. Some abstract art. Self-portrait of Frida Kahlo. Another Frida Kahlo. 



What is the closest you might have come to dying?
I had typhoid in Mexico in 2006, and I went undiagnosed for five days. 



What do you enjoy about theater?
I love meeting the people that make it, seeing new work, and always making new friends.



What can you do without?
Ketchup, I never got into it.



If someone is looking for you, where should they go?
Fairmount Park Bike Loop.



What are the two shows you are doing at Plays and Players? Was this brought about by your residency?
I’m just renting the black box upstairs. I don’t have any residency there, haven’t had one since I think…2012



What the fuck is a residency like?
Wish I knew.



Who are some of the Philly artists whose work you enjoy?
So many. I enjoy the work of: Tommy Choinacky, Applied Mechanics, Maria Shaplin, Becky Wright, Adriano Shaplin, Kate Raines, Eliana Fabiyi, Katonya Mosley, Betty Smithsonian, Rachel Fogletto, Kate & Aaron and everyone at Good Good Comedy, John Jarboe, Mary Tuomanen, Jess Conda, James Ijames, Wilma Theater and Blanka, Walter DeShields, Jimmy Grezlak, Daniel Park, Carlo Campbell, Brenna Geffers, Ross Beuschler, Robert DaPonte, Berserker Residents Justin / Dave / Brad, Lee Minora, Sarah Knittel, Scott Sheppard, Jenn Kidwell, Alice Yorke, Azuka Theater, Corinna Burns, Dito, Eppchez! , Mal Cherifi, Donna Oblongata, MJ Kaufman, Sam Henderson, Bethanne Frazer, NO Face, Candra Kennedy, Jeremy Prouty, Chelsea Murphy, Magdalene, John Rosenberg (You), Josh McIlvain, Chris Munden, all the critics Broad Street Review Wendy Rosenfield, Mark Cofta, Cameron Kelsall, ok so there’s a lot…I hesitate to miss anyone, Tribe of Fools, Almanac, many many many more.



Where is the house you bought?
Point Breeze, near 21st and Reed.



Do you have a go-to dinner that you make for people coming over?
I wish.



When did you start to see yourself as a writer?
When I was 15 or 16 years old in High School writing stories.



Do you have any superstitions?
Be kind to people even when it’s hard or bad shit happens to you



How do you respond to pressure?
Try to ignore it and my hands sweat profusely



What is the closest you have come to killing someone?
I haven’t. But I’ve had fantasies that if anyone threatened the people I loved I’d respond like some super hero.



How much money do you think I have?
Damn. I hope 5,000 dollars.




Do you want to be on the inside of the Philly Theater community or do you enjoy where you are at?


I enjoy where I am, but I like any change, and hopefully that change will come at some point.