elebrities aren’t exactly pouring out of Jacksonville, Florida but that’s only made Roland Powell’s grind more ferocious. Proclaiming himself “Lil Duval” after the county from which he hails, he has literally put his home turf on his back as he touches every nook and cranny available with his special brand of humor.
Some comedians work at making people laugh. Others just do. Born with the gift to make people laugh, Lil Duval explains that, for him, “comedy was a natural thing. People always found me funny. It wasn’t that I was trying to be funny; they just found me funny.”
Participating in pep rallies in high school and other activities where all eyes were on him really kicked Lil Duval into high gear. The limelight just suited him and he wanted more. “I heard them screaming for me and I was like ‘oh yeah, this is what I need to be doing,’” he smiles. “I knew I would be in entertainment because I felt like an entertainer.”
Ultimately, he envisioned himself on the big screen and particularly admired the work of Chris Tucker. That’s how he got into comedy actually. “I saw Chris Tucker on Friday and I was like ‘that’s what I want to do.’ Then I saw him on Def Comedy Jam so I was like ‘oh that’s the way you do it. You become a stand-up comedian and you’ll be in the movies.’ That’s how it started to build.”
Not one to waste time, Lil Duval went right at it, taking to the stage of Atlanta’s legendary Uptown Comedy Corner. Pretty soon, he was a regular there as well as any other spots with a microphone and people ready to laugh. A hilarious 2001 performance at a contest in Oakland caught the attention of Cedric the Entertainer’s camp and Lil Duval was invited to hit the road with Cedric and four other comedians. That successful run on the road led to a featured spot on Cedric the Entertainer: Starting Lineup, first televised and then released on DVD.
During the tour, Lil Duval developed his signature routine “Stalker’s Anthem (Bitch U Mine).” Set to Musiq Soulchild’s 2000 hit “Just Friends,” Lil Duval twists the original song, which preaches about taking it slow and making the girl comfortable, into a pressure-filled encounter at a club: “Girl I know this might sound strange/But let me know if I’m outta order, steppin to you this way/See I been buying you drinks for a while/And I’ll let you know . . . . Bitch U Mine!”