Entertainment

Comedian Danny Ragland’s Love for Fayetteville, Fayetteville State, and Comedy

Comedian Ragland is known for his comedy performances nationwide at college campuses and comedy clubs. Ragland opened comedy shows for acclaimed comedians Mike Epps and Sheryl Underwood. He’s known as the “Mayor of Homecoming” for Fayetteville State.

Ragland is closing out homecoming style with his comedy show, Danny Rag and Friends: Alumni Homecoming Show. The show is scheduled for tomorrow, Sunday, October 22, at 5:00 p.m. at his alma mater, EE Smith High School. Guest features are comedians Norm Nixon Jr. and Brandon Lewis, with a live EE Smith Alumni Band performance.

Coming home is a special feeling for him. Ragland shared that performing in Fayetteville is like singing in front of family and friends.

HUMBLE BEGINNING

Ragland knew he had a gift for making people laugh at an early age. “I would make the kids laugh and get in trouble in class,” he shared.

Ragland’s first love was football, before comedy. He wanted to play in the NFL. He played football at Shaw University in Raleigh after high school before transferring to Fayetteville State. Ragland unleashed his comedic gift as a student at Fayetteville State. “I ask God if this is your plan for me and to keep me rooted in grace because I know my city,” he states.

In 2009, he hosted the Miss Big and Beautiful Pageant for his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. He performed for a larger crowd during the school’s homecoming that year. Kevin Hart, who was elevating his career, was the headline feature, along with comedian Cocoa Brown. He knew he had five minutes to leave a mark. Ragland delivered, leaving a lasting impression on 3,500 students in 5 minutes. “My friend Spank, who introduced me to the stage, was calming me with casual talk. I felt nervous for 5 minutes. It felt like 30 minutes onstage,” Ragland shared.

His momentum grew after the show. Ragland has been in the comedy game for 13 years. He’s loving every bit of his journey. He said the entertainment industry is not nine-to-five. “You will be on the road for four weeks straight; you have two weeks when you’re not on the road,” Ragland said.

COMEDIC STYLE

Ragland describes his comedic style as authentic, like Kevin Hart, sharing life experiences. He also believes that writing his material is essential for delivering it effectively. ‘You must come at the crowd with a “bang” to get them laughing,’ Ragland shared.

He remembered auditioning for NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2010. In line, Ragland waited 19 hours. Each comedian had one minute to make the judges laugh, which was nerve-wracking. He reflects on how he capitalized on that one minute by taking over the room. “Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Look, this is crazy as hell. You’re telling me we have a minute to talk to y’all,” Ragland said, quoting his line.

While he was rambling on with his joke, at least 24 talents stood in line and faced other judges. They stopped and looked at me. The judge said time and ordered everyone out except him. The judge asked me, “Who are you? You know what you just did. You messed up our audition room. Now I’m nervous, wondering if they will call the police. She said no; you’re going to the next round. It’s their fault for not stopping you.”

Ragland ended the show on a good note. He made it to the top 50 out of approximately 700 comics. From there, he learned how to make people laugh on demand, which helped him become a better comedic writer.

Comedian, Danny Ragland, interacts with the crowd. Courtesy of Danny Ragland

THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME

Ragland’s humbleness has led to God opening doors for him. Throughout his journey, he has faced ups and downs, but his response to life challenges works well in his favor, opening opportunities and connections in the entertainment industry. His church, California Worship Center, pastored by Warryn Campbell (record producer and husband to gospel vocalist Erica Campbell), also supports him. Ragland says prayer helped him through his journey.

His journey to Los Angeles was a faith walk after working a contract job in Metropolis, Illinois. He decided to move to Los Angeles eight years ago. God was always by his side as he orchestrated the people at the right time, and he prepared to move to LA.

He recalled a moment when he was at his friend’s business, the Mattress Shop, close to his move to LA. Ragland was acting around, lying on the mattress. He saw a mysterious man recording him, which he thought was suspicious. After leaving the store, his friend, business owner D’Andre Peterson, contacted him to say the man recording him wanted to meet him.

He accompanies his friend on mattress delivery, and Ragland meets the mysterious man recording him at the store. The man introduced himself as Jason Fredericks, who thought he was funny and sent the video of him at the Mattress Shop to his brother, Kevin Fredericks, AKA Kev on Stage. Ragland told him about his move to LA, and Fredericks connected him with his brother.

When he arrived in LA on November 1, 2015, he linked with Kev on Stage, who worked for All Def Digital (the Los Angeles version of Nick Cannon’s Wild-N-Out). Kev told him about the film “Black People Can’t Swim.” Four days after his move, Ragland was on set with Kev on Stage at Russell Simmon’s house. The video received over a million views.

From there, Ragland built a bond with the business mogul and cofounder of Def Jam, Russell Simmons. Simmons signed him to All Def Comedy and invited him to Hollywood red-carpet events. Little did he know that when he was on the red carpet for the movie Central Intelligence, starring Kevin Hart and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, he ran into comedian and Fayetteville native, Affion Crockett.

Rewind to the 2010s: Ragland met Crockett through their mutual connection, Juanette Council, Ed.D., Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at Fayetteville State. Council is like a mother figure to Ragland. Crockett had told Ragland before his move to LA that they’d figure it out if he ever fell in love with him.

He knew it was only God’s path when he saw him at the red carpet opening. Crockett stated, “Damn, you move fast.” Ragland can only credit God for giving him that hustle mentality. “People said that it would take me 5–6 years to make it. It only took me 5–6 days,” Ragland shared.

At the Ha Ha Factory, he ran into Crockett again for Alex Thomas‘ (actor best known for the Jamie Foxx Show and The Players Club) Comedy Show to watch him and Norm Nixon Jr. perform. His stage performance impressed Crockett, who encouraged him to start orchestrating and become a skilled comedic writer.

Fast-forward to the present: Ragland has been touring with Crockett for 2–3 years. Ragland has toured with Crockett for 2–3 years. He was also on the writing team for Fusion’s All Def Roast: Snoop Dogg Smokeout. 

From the beginning, Crockett encouraged him to hustle for his dream. “Some people come into the game thinking success is handed to them, but it’s one man for themselves. You have to want it,” Ragland shared.

ON THE UP-UP

Ragland adheres to the wisdom of his friend and mentor, Crockett, and the inspiring stories of Steve Harvey, Jim Carrey, Jay Leno, and Tiffany Haddish’s road to stardom. Those stories motivated Ragland to work diligently towards his goals.

Traveling across the world has been an overwhelming blessing for Ragland. He looks at his phone and marvels at the places he toured and visited. Ragland’s future is elevating as more wondrous works await him. He continues to allow God to orchestrate his path.

He recently headlined his first show at Good Night Comedy in Raleigh, NC. Despite his career success, his hometown and college alma mater remain close to his heart. He also carries a special place in his heart for his loved ones who have passed on, especially his best friend, Darius.

His success may have taken him to many places, but he has Fayetteville tattooed on his back, carrying the city with him, which symbolizes that he will never forget home.

Follow Danny Ragland on Instagram at DannyRag and Facebook at Danny Rag.

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