Model and comedian Skinny Kenny (Kenny Williamson) steps onto the scene with exotically striking features and a wit to match.
WBM: Who is Skinny Kenny?
KENNY: Skinny Kenny is a culmination of the image I have been working on. I picked up this nickname while I was living in Japan. And this nickname gives a name or label to who I am after living overseas.
WBM: Interesting….and how do you feel living overseas shaped you?
KENNY: Living overseas has been the defining moment of my life. My time abroad really shaped me for the better. Being an outsider everyday gave me the observational skills I currently use to be a comedian. I feel that being disconnected allows you to see the intricacies of human interactions. And living in a foreign country where I couldn’t speak the language allowed me to take on the role as an observer.
WBM: Okay, so where are you originally from, and why Japan?
KENNY: I’m originally from Memphis. As far as why Japan, it has been a dream of mine to live in Japan. Something about the Far East seems to be alluring to many Westerners. Culture in Asia is so far removed from what we are used to in the West. It’s both an oddity, but also alluring. And it goes both ways. I have met many Japanese people who were obsessed with Western culture. Many Japanese people dream of going to America or England.
WBM: So besides the Far East, what interests you?
KENNY: I’m interested in entertainment, in particular comedy. Traveling; [I] really want to go to India–it’s my favorite country. And the pursuit of knowledge. I’ve read a lot of books on human societies and culture.
WBM: So how did you get into the comedy game?
KENNY: I’ve always been a jokester among my friends. But I formally started doing comedy in Japan. It started off as short stories I would tell in bars and grew from there. When I realized I was able to make people from different countries laugh despite the language and cultural barriers, I knew I had a talent that I should really pursue.
WBM: Who in the industry do you look up to as a model of how you want your career to pan out?
KENNY: Currently, my favorite comedians are Louis CK and Patrice O’Neal. Their story is typical in comedy. Both of them struggled for years before they reached critical acclaim. I know that it takes years to make it as a comedian, so I admire them for sticking it out.
WBM: What does it mean to be a comedian in 2011?
KENNY: Being a comedian in 2011 means you have a story to tell. But more importantly you have the ability and maturity to tell that story in a way that engages people.
WBM: I’m a huge fan of your blog skinny-kenny.com. You cover some, let’s just say, interesting topics. Do you find that your comedy is relatable across cultures?
KENNY: I’ve often wondered that. Sometimes I feel it is, but a lot of the time I wonder if people can relate to what I’m saying. One thing that might hurt me as a comedian is my general distaste for popular culture. I know that jokes about celebrities and pop culture are big hits. But I don’t follow any of that. So I have to find other ways to make jokes with common ground.
WBM: I know that you are also a guest blogger for CurlyNikki, how did you score that gig?
KENNY: That was completely random. I have an older sister living in Tokyo and she told me I should submit pictures of my hair to her site. And a lot of people were interested in me as a person. So I came on as an occasional guest blogger.
WBM: Why does what you do matter?
KENNY: I think right now in America, a lot of people are experiencing hardship. Homes are being foreclosed, people are losing their jobs, students are unsure if they have jobs to go to. People need a laugh to keep from drowning in a sea of depression. If my joke gives them that laugh, a laugh that in my eyes is a breath of fresh air, then I feel what I do matters.
WBM: Define success?
KENNY: That’s a tough one…I think success is making your own space for what you want to do. Be it hairdressing, singing, painting, whatever it is you’re passionate about. And the space I’m talking about is intangible. It’s not a place you go to. It’s a space you make in people’s lives. Everyone is busy in their own world, but if you can make your space in someone’s life and connect with them, I think that’s success. The more spaces you create for your talent the more successful you are.
WBM: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment thus far?
KENNY: I’d say living overseas and being a part of another culture has been my biggest accomplishment so far. That’s something many people aren’t able to do, and I’m proud that I’ve been able to thrive in a foreign culture.
WBM: What’s one thing that many don’t know about you?
KENNY: Many people don’t know that I’m actually very shy. People assume I’m extremely outgoing, but that’s not the case at all; I’m just good at hiding my shyness and insecurities a lot of time.
WBM: What’s next?
KENNY: When it gets warmer, I want to move to New York City and try to find a larger audience. For now I’m working on my material.
WBM: Where can your fans go to see you perform?
KENNY: Usually I perform in little 5 points or East Atlanta. But I travel a lot so it varies [He has since relocated to New York].
WBM: Any advice for those looking to pursue their goals and dreams?
KENNY: Be brave and prepare to struggle. Accept harsh judgement with open arms–it will make you better at what you do.