Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I went to DC last weekend to see Chris Rock on the No Apologies tour. This was my first time seeing him perform live!
Add that to Bill Cosby and Jim Gaffigan, and 2008 is shaping up nicely.
Something that’s not shaping up nicely is my artificial baby bump. You don't see what I'm talking about? here's a better view.
Just say no to Empire waists ladies.
The tickets were an early birthday present from my lovely Sis. Readers, you only have one month left to prepare for my surprise, Middle-Eastern-themed birthday celebration. Order your camels now!
Constitution Hall is shaped like a rectangle with rounded corners--I believe the correct term is rhombuzoid--so everyone gets a good view of the stage. They also allow drinks, and have drains strategically placed along the floor. Unfortunately, the Central Air wasn’t pumping, so the room got warm and felt like a Southern court house scene from a movie about racial injustice. This is in contrast to the night I froze at NBC Studios watching Saturday Night Live. Either way, it made the moment memorable.
The two screens that flanked the stage showed a slide show of vintage covers of popular black magazines. This was followed by black portraits in history, and then contemporary paintings by black artists all with a soundtrack of mainstream pop music. Maybe I’ve seen too many Black History month specials, but I am used to montages being accompanied by Negro spirtuals and Motown beats. Using Fiona Apple and Radiohead is like getting a French director to film Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.
Mario Joyner opened and did a half-hour set. The ceilings are very high, and the walls behind the stage are tall and white, which dwarf the performer. This didn’t matter to Mario because, as he said, his performance was just so the camera people could check the focus and color that appeared on the screens. He talked about wearing glasses, living the life of a bachelor and the criminal records that define his siblings. He walked out with no frills, very calm, and like a magician, took the audience from rumbling with chatter to attentive and chuckling on cue.
There was a 20 minute intermission, then the white walls were covered with green lights that blazed Rock’s initials.
He came out in a shimmery, teal green suit (homage to early years as a comic in the '90s?), got a standing ovation and began pacing. A loud cheer came from the upper section and he said, “That’s Baltimore up there.” Hahahaa. That IS Baltimore. I didn't know why I laughed. I think I was excited to see him.
It's hard for me to enjoy a stand-up performance as an audience member because I study it too closely. I watched how he held the mic cord, the faces he made, the way he circled back to his original idea. No Apologies is the perfect name for this tour. As soon as we were laughing at general celebrity commentary, he started in with the really strong opinions. He's a long way from the video footage Luke has of him in the 80s, sporting a leather jacket, a box Afro and a habit for pounding the mic after a punch line. But even back then when the crowd didn't know how to laugh at his joke he leaned forward and reminded them, "I DON'T GIVE A F***!"
He gave a two hour performance, and only part of it sounded familiar, towards the end. Most of the statements he made just made me want to clap, and I had to try to laugh instead of nodding and saying, "That's SO TRUE." One of the best parts of the whole show was during one joke when he said, “…that’s like a man with no arms saying, ‘Let’s all go to the MALL!’” (split-second of confused chuckles) “well I f***ed that joke up!” (huge laugh) “I’m supposed to say, that’s like a man with no arms saying, ‘Let’s all go SWIMMING!’” (giant “Ahaaa” and then big applause). Watching him stop and get real for a minute made the whole show even better.