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Don't mess with Donnell Rawlings

Hecklers, beware: When comedian Donnell Rawlings performs at the Palm Beach Improv this weekend, he'll be ready with a counterattack.

Known for his roles on "Chappelle's Show," MTV's "Guy Code" and its spinoff, "Guy Court," Rawlings got his start by being the loud guy in the crowd at a Washington, D.C., comedy club he frequented in the early 1990s.

"I would always heckle the comics. And then, one day, the owner told me to try it out," Rawlings says during a recent phone interview. "I think it was his way of trying to push me out of the club."

Lucky for him, Rawlings says, he "ripped it."

Some years later, his jokes caught the attention of Dave Chappelle, who put him on his Comedy Central show, where he made characters such as Ashy Larry and the catchphrase "I'm rich, biatch," famous.

But don't expect Ashy Larry to make a cameo at the Improv. "No one wants to see me ass-naked with dry skin in a comedy club," he says.

Rawlings knows there will always be a heckler in the audience, but he learned a few tricks from the late Bernie Mac.

"At one of Bernie's first shows, he took the stage and yelled, "I ain't scared of you, [expletive]," he recalls. "You can't be nice to hecklers. You have to either ignore or destroy them. I have the mike, and I usually just make a loud noise to shut them up."

Before beginning his comedic career, Rawlings served in the U.S. Air Force, and was stationed in South Korea.

"I'm not fluent in the language, but I can hold a conversation," he says. "The funniest thing is when I'm at a show and there's Koreans in the audience. The look on their faces when they see a black guy speaking their language is like, 'What the hell?' "

Hecklers aside, Rawlings says he loves knowing that he brings joy to his fans – even for one night. "Smokey Robinson had a line in his song 'The Life of the Party,' that says, 'People say I'm the life of the party because I tell a joke or two,'" Rawlings says. "And if I can bring some people happiness, I feel grateful."

Donnell Rawlings will perform 8 p.m. Thursday, July 3; 7 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday, July 5; and 7 p.m. Sunday, July 6, at the Palm Beach Improv,550 S. Rosemary Ave., in West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $20. Go to

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