‘Danny Ray’ combines standup comedy and sports commentary

Graschelle Hipolito, Editor-in-Chief

In today’s golden age of comedy and technology, it can be daunting to project material and gain a following. Danny Ray, a Bear Creek class of 2006 alumnus, adds his own personal flare to his work with a satirical and comedic take on actual sports topics and commentary by his alter ego character in his new Youtube web show “The Raybound.”

Ray has been performing stand up and improv comedy to develop his comedic skills, but his ultimate goal is to host his own television show. Instead of waiting years to be discovered and showcase his talents on camera, Ray took matters into his own hands and created his own web show to gain experience and preparation for when a bigger opportunity presents itself.

“Thankfully, we live in an era where all the tools you need to create a show are accessible and relatively cheap,” Ray said. “You can definitely start your own show by yourself; you don’t have to wait around anymore for someone to make one for you.”

Ray grew up in Stockton and graduated from University of the Pacific in 2010. In 2014, he took up comedy in New Orleans — stand up comedy, improv and sketch. He currently lives in Chicago, performing stand up around town and taking comedy classes at comedy theaters Second City and the Annoyance Theater.

Having grown up watching comedy news shows such as “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” since elementary school, Ray took inspiration from each of the show’s structure.

“I love the format of it all: providing information to the viewer in a humorous way, appearing to look credible and sounding professional but saying silly things,” Ray said.

In developing his own show, Ray interwove his sports fanatic side with his comedic skills to create his own character with his own storyline and motivations for being a sports commentator. His on-screen personality mocks egotistical sports commentators who, as Ray claims, have never played sports but think they know everything about them.

“[Actual sports commentators] tend to take sports very seriously and fixate on issues that are pretty irrelevant in modern day life,” Ray said. “So it’s fun to mock that, to exaggerate their concern on these mundane topics.”

His character, who takes his actual name “Danny Ray,” is the son of a legendary sports broadcaster named Al Ray; he grew up around the sports media elite in the shadow of his famous father. He was hired by ESPN as a sideline reporter at the age of 11, but could not handle the fame and was eventually fired because of his troublemaker ego.

Ray’s character comes across as narcissistic and self-serving; he tries to be best friends with all the athletes in an attempt to put himself into the limelight once again and “rebound” to his former glory with his new web show.

Each episode ranges from 5-10 minutes in length and covers the news in sports of that week, drawing ideas from what actual sports commentators are complaining about during the week, interpreted from Ray’s character’s point of view. There’s also a segment in each episode where Ray attends certain sporting events and conducts interviews. In the first episode, Ray ventures to an auto show; in later episodes, he will attend the Chicago Cubs opening day festivities and the NFL draft in Chicago.

“My main goal is to write and create something I’m proud of, and hope that the quality of it grows over time into something even better,” Ray said.

Ray said that he takes after his father, Alan Ray, who was a stand up comedian in his 20s and 30s and wrote jokes for radio DJs across the country for 30 years. In high school and college, Ray’s love for attention translated into being hosts for events like talent shows and homecoming rallies. Never truly fulfilled by his corporate jobs after college, Ray quit his advertising job in San Francisco and travelled to New Orleans to perform stand up comedy.

“I loved it and knew immediately that this is what I wanted to do,” Ray said.

Although Ray mocks journalists in his show, his experience in the field — particularly as a former editor-in-chief for Bear Creek’s “Bruin Voice” and an intern writing articles on the Stockton Ports for an Oakland A’s scouting website — helped form his show and character. He majored in communication with an emphasis in media production, where he learned how to produce and edit TV shows, and became the station manager for the campus’ radio and TV stations.

“At the time, I was just doing those things because I was interested in them, I never had an agenda for them,” Ray said. “I think that’s a good piece of advice for people trying to figure out what they want to do for a career: just start doing different things and see what sticks, you’ll filter out what you don’t want to do and seek more of the aspects you enjoyed.”