Rickey Smiley has a lot under his belt. A nationally syndicated radio show called “The Rickey Smiley Morning Show,” and a reality TV show about his family life that he served as the executive producer of in the form of “Rickey Smiley for Real”. But the comedian blew up more than two decades ago as a rising comic on BET’s “ComicView.” And the star credits one of his stage characters in particular for making him a household name.
“My big break was when I went on BET that time — everybody know it — and did: ‘My name Lil Darryl.’ Took my career to a whole ’nother level,” he tells Atlanta Black Star.
“It’s funny, because every line that came out — whether you was pledging Zeta Phi Beta or Alpha Phi Alpha or Omega Psi Phi — everybody had a Lil Darryl on they line on every campus, every chapter. It was absolutely amazing that Lil Darryl became such a hit. So that was my big break.”
Smiley owes fellow comedian and “The Orignal Kings of Comedy” star Cedric the Entertainer some credit for urging him to perform as Lil Darryl, a 7-year-old special education student.
“We was laughing so hard, I had to pull the car over,” Smiley recalled to TVOne’s “Unsung Hollywood” of a life-changing car ride with Cedric, who told him to perform it on stage. “If you ever do Lil Darryl on stage, it’s gon’ change your life,” Smiley remembered Cedric saying.
Smiley explained the crowd went wild for the character, who sang at the church modeling show, “I didn’t come right here to stay, all I came to say Happy Easter Day!” It resulted in a major income boost for the star’s stand-up income, which went from $150 to $5,000 in two weeks.
After Smiley’s stand-up routine as Lil Darryl took off, he landed two separate gigs hosting “ComicView” from 2000 to 2001 and again in 2004.
Smiley also appeared on other staple Black comedy shows of the 1990s like HBO’s “Snaps” and “Def Comedy Jam” as well as “The Uptown Comedy Club.” Plus, Smiley was one of the many stars to take his talents to “Showtime At The Apollo.”
“Those were my big breaks and my staple moments in standup comedy. And I’m proud and I’m still here,” he says.