A middle-aged comedian stuffs his leopard-skin shorts and shoots for the stars.
David Dingwall will do whatever it takes to get his shot at stardom. Write a 300-page semi-autobiographical novel titled David. Record a Latin ballad “to reach the Spanish-speaking audience.” He’d even get naked, slide into leopard-skin ball-huggers, stuff his package (allegedly with a chemically sedated gerbil) and ride the pole.
The 64-year-old comedian is a blizzard of ambition: He’s written books, songs and theatrical skits. He can sing, act and dance. He has years of training as a vaudeville variety act performer and countless gigs under his belt.
Most importantly, he’s not afraid to strip down and shake what his mama gave him all over the Internet, like he did in his latest comedic video, the amazing White Boy (Can’t Make a Livin’ in a Black Man’s World).
The rump-rattling triumph is the perfect metaphor for Dingwall’s life, which reads like a showbiz version of underdog archetypes like Rocky and The Wrestler tempered with a dash of Napoleon Dynamite.
Dingwall’s life and show-biz career, as intertwined as strands of DNA, have been a carousel of ups and downs, promising starts and abrupt stops. Whether working as a teacher, assistant principal or entertainer, ultimately, he just wants to be accepted, to make people feel good by making them laugh.
But every time it seemed like his showbiz career was about to take off, it’d all go to pieces.
The obstacles varied: As a younger man, it was fear and nerves. Later in life, as the scar that runs down his chest attests, it was his health. Then it was family obligations. It was always something.
Now, after a lifetime of starts and stalls, after all his preparation for a comeback, it’s ironic that it’s the brilliant comedy video White Boy that could transform this old-school Catskills crooner into a 21st century Internet star.
In the video, Dingwall plays the middle-aged White Boy who wants nothing more than to dance at a black stripper bar. One glance at his startling leopard bulge jousting with the stripper pole and it’s crystal clear that this time David Dingwall has yanked the files he stuffed deep in the Department of What If, tossed them in a garbage can and set that bitch on fire.
Picture a shorter, stockier version of a South Philly Al Pacino, but with kinder eyes: an Archie Bunker type in a shiny gray toupee peeling off his tuxedo striptease-style for a horrified crowd (including a cameo by Maxx of the Goats). He twirls his cummberbund around and rotates his basketball belly in circles as his arms flail, a drowning, oceanless swimmer.
The Rocky-inspired montage shows a sweatsuit and skullcap clad Dingwall training as he knocks back raw eggs, jogs through the Italian Market, and gets a palms-to-the-stage booty-bouncing lesson before taking the stage where he swings, grinds and thrusts his way into our hearts.
It’s fitting that this video serves as Dingwall’s comeback vehicle. While all of his characters (aggro blue-collar guy and spastic bus boy, to name a couple) are exaggerated facets of himself, the struggling character in White Boy seems the most personal, and most autobiographical, of all. .
Like the real Dingwall, the White Boy character has spent years ogling strippers jiggling their junk at the J&J Trestle Inn—Philadelphia’s notorious, black stripper joint. One day he decides it’s time for him to take the stage and writhe in the spotlight. Figuring he has nothing to lose, White Boy asks the owner for a chance to give the pole a whirl. “If you crazy enough, then I’m crazy enough,” replies the owner.
It’s all so crazy that it just might work.
White Boy has already given Dingwall a small taste of newfound fame. Last week, he gained his first national exposure with a radio appearance on the Joey Reynolds Show on WOR Radio, New York, and he says he’s starting to get noticed locally.
“I went to the gym and I was signing autographs at the 12th Street Gym at the fruit bar, because they had seen my stuff,” he says. “If I go places, people say, ‘Are you Dave?’”
It’s risky business. Sure, it takes balls to shake your moneymaker on YouTube, but they’ve got to be made of brass to bank on success by accepting the financial investment of silent partners, which enables his aggressive schedule of lessons and tapings. He says it’s paying some of his personal expenses, too. Payback is never guaranteed for arts benefactors, but the money will dry up if there isn’t at least some payoff, soon.
PW's Music Issue 2014