“I’d rather go up against armed gunmen than an angry black crowd,” says Sgt. Gill.
We’ve been talking a lot on the show recently about police and policing. It’s an incredibly serious topic that hits at the core of public safety and the trust between communities and the people serving to protect them.
But when Michigan State Police Sgt. Dwayne Gill isn’t in uniform he sets out to find the lighter side of policing. Gill is a Detroit native who’s been making audiences laugh for more than 20 years as a comedian.
He joins Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to talk about growing up in Detroit and how he makes his day job funny on stage.
“It is not (funny),” says Gill. “One of the reasons I got into stand-up is because when I was in the academy they told us you need to find an activity outside of police work so that you don’t become so jaded about dealing with the bad in society all of the time… Some people like to do hunting, some people fish. I like to get on stage at night and tell jokes.”
Gill says although his job is a serious one he still finds ways to draw humor from it. He gives the example of being assigned early in his career to Ionia, a rural community between Lansing and Grand Rapids. He says he was one of the only African Americans in the community.
“Whenever I would take my patrol car out, they always would call 9-1-1 and say, ‘Hey man, somebody stole one of your cars,’” he jokes. “But the funniest thing that happened there was the very first investigation I got, which was a stolen John Deere tractor, and the farmer laughed when I asked him what color it was.”
He says he’s been a state trooper for 23 years.
“I’ve done everything in the State Police,” he says. ”I worked undercover, rode the motorcycle, governor bodyguard, legislative liaison, and now I’m in recruiting. And I’m responsible for helping to ensure that the Michigan State Police is very diverse, like the community we serve.”
Between patrolling the streets and performing in front of a crowd, Gill says the latter is more frightening.
“I’d rather go up against armed gunmen than an angry black crowd,” he says.
Gill is performing Friday and Saturday night in Brighton. And he’ll perform on Saturday at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, which will raise money to benefit the Law Enforcement Torch Run for people with intellectual disabilities.
To hear the full conversation, click on the audio link above.
Here’s a video of Sgt. Gill performing stand-up: