Devon Walker Brings Lone Star State Laughs to SNL and Moontower Just for Laughs - Walker, Texas Comic

April 13, 2023

Photo Credit

Sam Brooks


Valerie Lopez


Valerie Lopez


2023 Moontower Just For Laughs Comedy Festival Series

The 2023 Moontower Just For Laughs Comedy Festival is blessing us with 2 weeks of comedy, film, live podcast, and afterparties. Comedy Wham is featuring our favorite conversations from this year's festival. Enjoy!

Austin Chronicle

This article was written for and appears in the April 13, 2023 edition of the Austin Chronicle -

In Octo­ber 2016 long­time Austin res­i­dent and new com­ic Devon Walk­er was a guest on my pod­cast, Com­e­dy Wham. Sev­en years lat­er, ahead of his return for Moon­tow­er Just for Laughs Austin, I’m still struck by how age­less and wise Walk­er was at that first meet­ing, brim­ming with poise and charm even as he was just start­ing to run open mics in the (then) small Austin com­e­dy scene. He was part ambi­tious com­ic and part chill friend you hang out with talk­ing about George Strait and the Spurs.

Fast-for­ward to Sep­tem­ber 2022, and the open­ing cred­its of NBC’s Sat­ur­day Night Live. Walk­er sports a charm­ing grin while hold­ing a set of red bal­loons as long­time announc­er (and for­mer cast mem­ber) Dar­ryl Ham­mond bel­lows his name as one of this sea­son’s new fea­tured play­ers. Walk­er is a tall, impos­ing force, but those bal­loons per­fect­ly cap­ture his play­ful per­son­al­i­ty. Like most of the oth­er new fea­tured play­ers, Walk­er is a stand-up com­ic who’s been thrown into the week­ly fire to learn how to write, pitch, rehearse, and per­form sketch­es. Now mil­lions of view­ers are pay­ing atten­tion to him and ask­ing, Who is this kid?”

Born in Wash­ing­ton state and raised Pflugerville, Walked shared that as a young kid, I always want­ed atten­tion.” The class clown, he’d always been told he was fun­ny, and while earn­ing a mas­ter’s degree in orga­ni­za­tion­al devel­op­ment, he turned to com­e­dy and nev­er looked back.

Walk­er’s com­e­dy career began in 2014 with an open mic per­for­mance at the orig­i­nal Cap City Com­e­dy Club where, in a bit of kismet, he met future SNL cast­mate Andrew Dis­mukes. Walk­er took a break to focus on a new rela­tion­ship but returned to the stage in 2015 after the rela­tion­ship end­ed. Of his return to the open mic rig­ma­role, Walk­er says his moti­va­tion was, Let me see if I can be bet­ter.” The tastemak­ers of Austin com­e­dy quick­ly took notice. In 2016, he made his first-ever fes­ti­val appear­ance, at Moon­tow­er, and appeared on Piran­ha, a show cre­at­ed and host­ed by Matt Bear­den where comics deliv­er their sets and a pan­el of celebri­ty judges buys their best jokes. Walk­er’s appear­ance was unique. The judges flipped the script and gave Walk­er mon­ey to keep his mate­r­i­al, telling him no one could tell the jokes the way Walk­er did. Com­pet­ing as a final­ist in the 2017 and 2018 Cap City Com­e­dy Club Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin con­tests, the proof was there. He was get­ting so much bet­ter and itch­ing to get bet­ter in a big­ger com­e­dy mar­ket. After his 2017 appear­ance on Com­e­dy Cen­tral’s Up Next, L.A. and New York took notice, and he gave him­self a year to decide which coast would claim him.

Where you're at is never where you want to be.
Devon Walker (Original 2016 podcast)

Walk­er talks a lot about full cir­cle” moments, and one came on May 5, 2018. Don­ald Glover was slat­ed to host and per­form as the musi­cal guest on SNL. Dis­mukes was a new writer on the show, and Walk­er asked his open mic friend if he could get tick­ets. Between see­ing the show and tak­ing in NYC, his fate was sealed as the Big Apple’s newest res­i­dent, quick­ly land­ing writ­ing jobs at Net­flix’s Big Mouth and FreeFor­m’s Every­thing’s Trash and keep­ing busy dur­ing the pan­dem­ic by cre­at­ing dig­i­tal shorts for Com­e­dy Cen­tral. Walk­er’s demeanor is so laid-back, you don’t sense the high­ly ambi­tious side of him. He gives cred­it to his father for achiev­ing the Amer­i­can dream through hard work and the desire to give his chil­dren a bet­ter life. And now, in under 10 years since his first open mic, he’s a fea­tured play­er on the longest-run­ning TV show in history.

But first he had to get past the audi­tion process: per­form­ing on the main stage with cre­ator and pro­duc­er Lorne Michaels sit­ting in a dark cor­ner. Walk­er was told, No one’s going to laugh, but don’t let that trip you up.” After step­ping on stage, per­form­ing to emp­ty seats, he was shocked and relieved to hear laugh­ter. Walk­er kept the care­ful­ly guard­ed secret that he’d been cast as a fea­tured play­er on the 48th sea­son while the rest of Amer­i­ca (minus Walk­er’s mom – she knew) wait­ed until August for the announce­ment. The 47th sea­son cast went through a large exo­dus, and Walk­er is part of this rebuild­ing year and the show’s most diverse cast to date.

While Michaels has nev­er divulged his mag­ic for­mu­la for tal­ent spot­ting, it appears to have evolved since the show’s 1975 ori­gin. Not only is there a strong Black pres­ence (Ego Nwodim, Punkie John­son, and now Walk­er), there’s Asian rep­re­sen­ta­tion with Bowen Yang, His­pan­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion with Mar­cel­lo Her­nan­dez, and the show’s first-ever non­bi­na­ry cast mem­ber in Mol­ly Kear­ney. The cast looks more and more like the Amer­i­ca that it skew­ers every week.

I'll be a Texan 'til I die.
Devon Walker

Walk­er shared that among favorite sketch­es he co-wrote was Hot Girl Hos­pi­tal” with host Megan Thee Stal­lion and Bap­tist Church” with host Michael B. Jor­dan. He loved being cast in HIV Com­mer­cial” with host Aubrey Plaza, because he was front and cen­ter, and Kenan & Kel­ly” with host Keke Palmer, because he per­formed an impres­sion in the faux Kenan & Kel sketch. That was a dream come true for him.

When I talked to Walk­er in 2016 he shared a phi­los­o­phy of where you’re at is nev­er where you want to be.” If we could pre­dict the future, Walk­er would grad­u­ate to full cast mem­ber for SNLs 50th sea­son, a remark­able mile­stone. And, like his orig­i­nal com­e­dy heroes – Chevy Chase, Chris Rock, Tra­cy Mor­gan, and Will Fer­rell – he’ll become a house­hold name. Oh, and he’d like it known that he’s avail­able to be a court­side fix­ture for San Anto­nio Spurs games. After all, not all dreams are comedy-related.

The 32-year-old feels like an old man when it comes to today’s Austin com­e­dy scene, say­ing, It was bet­ter back in my day,” but he read­i­ly admits peo­ple always think fond­ly of their ear­ly days in com­e­dy. Austin may no longer be home, but when asked if he con­sid­ered him­self a New York­er or a Tex­an, with­out hes­i­ta­tion, Walk­er reached over to show me a neck­lace pen­dant in the shape of Texas. I’ll be a Tex­an til I die.”

Fol­low Devon

Devon can be seen and heard:

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Devon Walker