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Celebrity Drive: Comedian Godfrey Danchimah

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 7/28/2015 K.S. Wang

Quick Stats: Godfrey, comedian and cohost of Fox's "Bullseye"
Daily Driver: 2012 Fiat 500 (Godfrey's rating: 7 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Favorite road trip: Chicago to New York
Car he learned to drive in: 1984 Buick Regal
First car bought: 1984 Ford Escort

While some people move to midtown Manhattan and get rid of their cars, Godfrey Danchimah, known as Godfrey, a comedian and the cohost on Fox's "Bullseye," bought a 2012 Fiat 500 so he could drive to gigs in nearby states.

He initially needed the car to help with errands when he and his girlfriend lived in a house, but now that he lives in an apartment he realizes it's a "luxury and a half" to have a car in the heart of New York City.

"We first rented a car because we needed to do a bunch of things and we needed a car for it," Godfrey says. "So we rented a Fiat. It was like, 'You know what? I think that would be the move.' I used to live by Yankee Stadium in the Bronx in a house, so we would always go to Home Depot, so the car was useful. I decided parking is really easy, gas is really cheap, and sometimes I drive to D.C. or Virginia, states that are close by. For 4 to 6 hours, I drive out of town for gigs. I don't have to get in an airplane, so it's really convenient."

In a crowded city where parking is an issue, fitting into a tight space is a cinch for the Fiat. "Most people will be like, 'I can't fit,' Yeah, well, I can," he says, laughing. "It's like the pug car. It looks like a pug, those dogs. And I'm a really good parallel parker. I've always been a really good driver because my father taught me how to drive when I was 14.

Celebrity Drive Godfrey Danchimah© Provided by MotorTrend Celebrity Drive Godfrey Danchimah "New York is all about timing. You don't want to drive too often in the daytime because you can get a lot of tickets, you can get towed. So after the nighttime when I have to do my gigs in New York, I drive.

When Godfrey first got his Fiat, his car was one of the few he'd see around. "A lot of people are getting Fiats now. A lot of people are downsizing to those sized cars. It's just like in Europe—they drive small cars."

Godfrey gives the Fiat a 7 out of 10 because it's not sturdy enough for the pothole-riddled streets of New York City, which he says cause the hubcaps to fall off. He sometimes catches it in time, so he can pull over and pick up the hubcap, but other times he's had to get replacement ones.

"The roads in New York are kind of crappy and it's not built that strong. I want to get a Mini Cooper because it's built stronger," he says. "It's all right when it's a smooth road. You don't want to drive too hard when they're doing construction or on bumpy roads. You want to be very careful with that."

But the Fiat does get a lot of looks and compliments from people. "They're always like, 'Nice car, hey, how's that car run? Do you like that car? I'm thinking about getting one,'" he says.

Godfrey frequently gets asked are whether he likes the Fiat and what is the gas mileage. "Old Latin men love it too, especially the Cuban ones. They say it reminds them of the old cars in Cuba where Fidel Castro didn't let anybody change anything. So they're always going crazy over that car," he says.

Celebrity Drive Godfrey Danchimah© Provided by MotorTrend Celebrity Drive Godfrey Danchimah Godfrey notices that while the Big Apple is a major melting pot of cultures, it's also a crazy mix when it comes to drivers and the cultural driving habits they bring with them. "New York is an immigrant-based city. New York is another country because everybody speaks different languages. There are so many different immigrants. There are so many cabs in New York, it's just a sea of yellow when you're driving and they drive like they're in their country. Psychopaths. I'm West African so I know. I'm Nigerian. When I was in Nigeria, the traffic was senile. They drove like maniacs."

When he drove in Nigeria he says no one paid attention to traffic lights and there was always gridlock because of overpopualtion. There were a lot of drivers from India, Pakistan, and the Arab countries as well, and they drove the same way.

"They drive like there are no lines on the road and then they get mad at each other," he says. "They don't believe in yielding, because in driving, yielding is part of driving, giving people the chance to go. They don't believe in that. They think that you're trying to outdo them. If you ask them, 'Hey can I go ahead of you?' 'No! No!'

"Then you learn to drive crazy," he says. "Even though they drive very crazy in New York, there are not a lot of accidents. There are, but not a lot. They know how to drive in a small space. But a lot of times they like to drive and hug both lanes, it's real silly. It's real crazy."

Car he learned to drive in

Godfrey grew up in Chicago, where his dad taught him to drive in a 1984 or 1985 two-door Buick Regal when he was just 14 years old. Father and son would wake up at 4:30 a.m. to practice driving.

"He took me to this park, it was over by Lake Michigan. I lived on the Northside, so we lived by the lake and he would take me to an open parking lot at 5 in the morning, no one was there, and teach me how to reverse, how to park, how to do three-point turns. He would drill the hell out of me every weekend," he says. His dad wanted his kids to be prepared in life so by the time Godfrey took Driver's Ed in high school, he already knew how to drive. "I went to the biggest high school in Chicago, which is Lane Tech High school. We had a driving (course) at our school, so I got my permit on my high school campus. That's how big our school is."

But Godfrey was still nervous when it came time to take his driver's test. "You're nervous because you're taking a test and you want to get your license. Thank God my father did that even though you're like, 'Oh, I don't feel like getting up 4:30 in the morning.' But it ended up working out."

One of the main reasons his dad wanted him to know how to drive earlier than usual, was in case of emergencies. "My father was always about, in case someone is hurt, in case someone needs to go to the hospital, you need to learn how to drive."

His dad wanted his kids to know how to drive as well as swim early on, just in case they needed to know how. "He made us swim at 3, 4 years old. 'You're going to learn to swim because the earth is 75 percent water and you never know.' We were swimming in nine feet of water at 6 years old. My father was always a cautionary dude. He didn't like to travel with the whole family all the time. He always felt only travel with some of us, in case something happens. We don't want to lose everybody."

Godfrey recalls those early mornings learning how to drive. At first his dad was a tough teacher. "He would be kind of grumpy and frustrated. I'm like, 'Hey, I don't know how to drive, dude!' And it was the automatic, where the thing was at the steering wheel, like an old truck," he says. "When I started getting better I was happy, but when he started getting mad at me, I was like, 'Dude! It's my first day!'"

When it came time to drive on the highway, that was new territory to get used to. "He explained to me that highway driving is easier than local driving. He took me on the highway but he made sure we went when it was really, really, really empty," he says. "He goes, 'This is the acceleration ramp, so don't forget, acceleration ramp, not deceleration. You have to accelerate. Look at your side mirror, look at your back mirror, make sure there aren't coming cars, make sure your lane is clear and then you accelerate.' Then eventually you're like, oh, highway driving is easier because you're not really stopping and going. It's just constantly going."

Photo courtesy of Innovative Comedy© Provided by MotorTrend Photo courtesy of Innovative Comedy

First car bought

Godfrey bought a used 1984 Ford Escort blue at a used car lot in Chicago. "It was horrible. I got it for so cheap and I remember they were laughing when I was driving it off the lot," he says, laughing. "It was the only car I could afford. I was so happy to get something. I got a lemon and it was a Ford Escort, a blue one."

He needed the car for standup gigs. "I booked a McDonald's commercial and I got some money so I was able to get an apartment and I said, 'Ooh, I should get a used car, man!' Haha!" he says. "I could get to gigs faster if I got a car. But when you get a crappy car, haha! You're like, 'Oh boy, my car is smoking on the road. I've got to get it fixed again.'"

Godfrey only had the car for two years. "It smoked a lot, it always conked out on me. I'd be on the side while it smoked and had to wait for it too cool down," he says, laughing. "It was a jalopy. Then I got a 1986 or 1987 Mercury Cougar. It was a white Cougar with power windows, tinted. And that gave me trouble because the doors would lock itself and I couldn't get in the car. It was pretty cool. I'm not a big fan of white cars, but it was one I could afford."

After a couple of months Godfrey got tired of the Mercury Cougar and got a "tiny" turquoise Geo Storm. He drove it to New York City when he moved there in 1997.

One day when it got towed away, Godfrey went to retrieve it and decided to sell it to whoever he saw there. "I was so sick of the car. I saw a guy and said, 'Hey man, do you want a car for some money?' He goes, 'I only have $200 bucks.' 'Yeah, thanks, you can have it.' I walked off and got on a train."

Godfrey would like buy a Porsche one day. "I just want to get to that point where I have money to do that. I spent money on the house where I was living. It was a money pit. It was just too much work. I always wanted a Porsche," he says. "I like Range Rovers as far as SUVs."

Favorite road trip

When Godfrey moved to New York, he initially drove the Geo, but he later went back to Chicago to move more stuff and rented a truck, taking turns driving with a friend.

"My final drive was in a U-Haul truck for 20 hours. That was a cool trip because I actually was moving away from my city to a new city. It wasn't that bad. We took turns driving a truck," he says. "I'd never driven a truck across the country. It was really fun. We stopped at places. It was a pretty cool drive. I was hoping the truck wouldn't break down, and you don't want to crash. My friend was moving to New York too. She was going to fly and then she goes, 'Yo, I was thinking about flying, but hell, I can save money, we'll just share gas and let's do it!'"

What made that final drive to New York a great road trip was mostly the anticipation of a new life and the prospect of making it there as a comedian. "It was like, 'Wow, I'm actually moving to New York' and 'Wow, I'm finally doing it, I'm out of Chicago! I can't believe it! My new address is going to be a New York address!' You're taking a chance. I had a new manager and an agent and they were like, 'You've got to move to New York.'"

He's happy he made the move to New York despite how life can be as a standup comic. "It's up and downs in this business, but I chose it. It's all narcissism. I chose it; I thought I was awesome. I've been doing it for over 20 years and like, 'Wow, I'm still doing what I'm doing.' It's a long journey. The person that's on top today, may not be. It changes so much."

Gotham Comedy Club July 31 to August 2

While he's been in movies including "Zoolander," and will be in the upcoming indie "Three Days in Vegas" opposite Nicolas Cage, Godfrey has been busy doing a lot of television lately. He has been co-host on Fox's summer hit "Bullseye." The unscripted challenge show just had its season finale last week.

Photo courtesy of Innovative Comedy© Provided by MotorTrend Photo courtesy of Innovative Comedy "I'll be a recurring character in a new series, a Denis Leary series in October called 'Benders' on IFC," he says. "It's a hockey comedy about a crappy hockey team and I play a goalie on that."

Godfrey also recently had a one-hour comedy special on Comedy Central "Godfrey: Black by Accident," as well as a recurring role on FX's "Louie." He can regularly be seen on "Shaquille O'Neal's Upload" on TruTV.

He's doing some new standup material as well as preparing material for a new one-hour special to be filmed in Chicago in September. You can see Godfrey at the Gotham Comedy Club July 31 to Aug. 2. Visit and for more information.

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Photo courtesy of Innovative Comedy© Provided by MotorTrend Photo courtesy of Innovative Comedy

Celebrity Drive Godfrey Danchimah© Provided by MotorTrend Celebrity Drive Godfrey Danchimah

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