Review: Epps entertains, enlightens fans
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / firstname.lastname@example.org
Sex. Relationship tips. Politics. Drugs. The differences between black woman and white women. Dealing with dope fiends. Mike Epps covered all those topics and more on Saturday night, Jan. 25, as he entertained an enthusiastic and respectful crowd for more than 90 minutes at Hawaii Theatre.
Many stand-up comics these days would consider 45 minutes a good night’s work. Epps worked for more than twice that long and never faltered. Sometimes he did straight-forward contemporary comedy, sometimes he shared enlightening insights into life and human nature. Whatever he was doing, Epps made use of every minute. Not a moment was wasted. Even the silent moments had a noticeable amount of dramatic or comic impact.
Epps opened the show with a nod to tradition, a shout-out to the “fat girls” in the house, inviting them to make themselves known. Not many did, despite the fact, Epps said, that he had seen more than a few “buffalo girls” coming into the theater.
Along with the comedy sketches, one-liners that only he could do, and improvised bits, Epps told some jokes that the fans could share later with friends or co-workers. For example, there were a couple of “You know you’re fat if…” jokes, easy to remember, easy to retell, that a lot of folks will probably be re-telling in the next few days. There was also this:
Police Officer (after stopping Epps for speeding): “Why were you driving so fast?”
Epps: “Because I didn’t see you.”
Epps took a break from straight comedy to give some advice on how couples can make their relationship better than the dysfunctional relationships he’d been describing (“Do what you did to get the person you’re with”, he said. “If you don’t, someone else will.”). He talked about life and death, and suggested that it is best to die without regrets because, like it or not, “a lot of people are not going to Heaven.”
He demonstrated his range as comic impressionist with brief sketches on Stevie Wonder, Dennis Rodman, Too Short and an assortment of stock ethnic characters. His impression of President Obama discussing marijuana went over particularly well.
As for the recent behavior of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber? “They need a good (butt) whuppin’!”
Epps moved away from comedy again when he talked more or less seriously about working with Whitney Houston on her final film, “Sparkle,” and about working with Ice Cube on two of the “Friday” films (Epps’ announcement that there is another Friday film on the way was greeted with enthusiastic applause).
As with his one-nighter at the Blaisdell Concert Hall almost exactly two years ago, some of Epps’ most “politically incorrect” material got huge laughs. The crowd went crazy when he explained that as a child he had been classified as “retarded,” and then did his very non-PC impressions of people who are, to use the politically correct term, “challenged” or “differently-abled.”
The crowd went berserk as Epps portrayed various such characters, acknowledged that it was wrong to make fun of them (Y’all think I’m gonna to go to Hell for doing this”) and then did it again.
The applause and laughter got louder each time.
Epps was so on top of it that whether he was talking about the Kardashians or the power women have over men, doing two characters in a sketch inspired by “12 Years a Slave” or telling a story that didn’t seem to be going anywhere, the show never dragged.
Epps’ 90-minute set was an excellent hana hou for his Concert Hall show. The big difference — aside from the fact that he did a much longer show this time — was the audience.
Two years ago there were far too many fools in the audience who either thought they could enhance the show by yelling unintelligibly or who were so inebriated they just didn’t care. This time the audience was more mature, giving Epps the laughter and applause he deserved but not shouting out — except when he asked them to.
Judging by the responses of the audience, it seemed that a majority of the crowd were “80s babies,” although a lot of “70s babies” made themselves known as well.
Epps had a effective opening act in comedian/actor Gary “G-Thang” Johnson. Johnson did a strong 25-minutes of loud and raw contemporary comedy that included his take on why “black women don’t get kidnapped,” why the survival of 50 Cent shows that “(thugs) don’t know how to shoot” and why “Michelle (Obama) is a thug” who doesn’t allow “no Bill Clinton stuff” at the White House.
Lest, that last comment be misunderstood in the context of this review, Johnson made it clear to the audience that he has much respect for the First Lady.
Johnson has a veteran comic’s knack for memorable phrases. He is an expressive physical comedian as well. His physical portrayal of a woman with unusually large breasts had the crowd close to falling on the floor — and the women around where I was seating were laughing louder than the men.
Epps brought him back at the end of the evening for some good-natured oneupsmanship with each cracking jokes about the other. Epps got the best zinger in when he asked the crowd if they didn’t agree that Johnson resembled Grammy Award-winning female recording artist Tracy Chapman.
Judging by the audience response, they agreed with him.
It was an excellent, energizing, and at times enlightening night of comedy.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at email@example.com.