A Q&A with comedian Ron Sexton about his alter-ego Donnie Baker and his friend Tim Wilson

Jun 18, 2015 at 5:56 pm
A Q&A with comedian Ron Sexton about his alter-ego Donnie Baker and his friend Tim Wilson

Donnie Baker is a rude, wacked-out, overzealous nitwit — and he’s the brain child of comedian Ron Sexton. The character of Donnie was hatched as a series of phone calls on “The BOB & Tom Show,” but proved so popular with audience members, they eventually took him to the stage. Sexton will be be bringing Donnie Baker to The Laughing Derby this weekend, and he took a few minutes to chat with us about Louisville and his old friend Tim Wilson.

LEO: Is Donnie based on anyone you know? Ron Sexton: I don’t know why it always struck me as funny, but I thought it would be funny if someone was on the phone on a radio show, and then rudely started yelling at someone off to the side. When we went out on the road, people were convinced he was real, and I was a little afraid that being out there like that, it might lose its charm. And I thought he was the type of person that would like wolves, so he needed lots of shirts with different wolves on them, and he would have an opinion on all of them.

LEO: You’ve been through Louisville many times. Are you ready to get back? RS: For me personally, I was friends with Tim Wilson and this was kind of his home club — so I always kind of feel Tim’s presence. I didn’t go (to this club) until Tim had passed. I always worked other rooms in Louisville like The Brown Theater or 4th Street Live. But Tim lived in The Highlands, so the first time I drove around through that part of town on my own, I was like, wow, I see why Tim loved not only the club but the area so much.

LEO: Is there room onstage with a character like Donnie to adjust if an audience isn’t into it that night? RS: Yeah, I kind of take the temperature of the crowd each night. That’s one of the things Tim taught me: Every comedy crowd is different. Just because a dog looks happy and is wagging his tail, doesn’t mean he won’t bite you. So I have a few Donnie jokes I tell early on that let me know which way I should take the show each night.

LEO: Tim was such a loss to the comedy community. Was he someone you looked up to when you started? RS: Well, it’s funny. I never intended Donnie Baker to hit the way it did. I thought it was kind of a throwaway character that might last a few phone calls on ‘Bob & Tom,’ and that would be it. I just had an idea about this guy that was self-confident for all of the wrong reasons, and I thought, “Aw, heck, I’ll try it.” But it wasn’t until he kind of blew up and I was taking him out on the road for the first time, and that’s when I got Tim’s stamp of approval that I thought Donnie might actually be something. It’s funny Tim wasn’t a big fan of Larry the Cable Guy at all, but he loved Donnie Baker; that was all I needed for validation. To this day that means the world to me, and I miss him dearly. Donnie Baker June 18-20 The Laughing Derby laughingderby.com $20; Times vary