I recently headed back to Cobb’s Comedy Club to see another all time favorite comedian- the criminally underrated Paul Mooney. All in all, the night was an enjoyable one. I went by myself (self-conscious and massively shy, I am apparently a glutton for
Sure glad you didn’t make things worse, Lady.
Anyway, after hearing her and her guy mumble to each other about women’s lib and “girls now-a-days,” I rolled my eyes turned toward the stage and prepared myself to see the show.
The first opening act (and host) was Nato Green. He referred to himself as the “token white guy,” and turned out to be genuinely funny. Seeing very poor live performances are a huge fear for me, because seeing people falter publicly makes me extremely uncomfortable (unless it’s Sarah Palin… Come to think of it, that’s not true. Even watching Mother Moose struggle in her famed interview with Katie Couric saw my body clenched in nervous anxiety), so I was relieved to realize this.
Green (Jewish himself) broached the topic of the Holocaust, proposing we (they?) look at the event like the horrific tragedy that it was, but instead like “a glass half full sort of situation.” “Think about it,” he said, “Hitler may have been evil, but he was not an idiot. And at the end of the day, he couldn’t wipe us out! We’re stil here! Now these dumb $ss skin heads may be running around the backwoods of America plotting a great coup against the Jews, but let’s face it; they’re idiots. We’re going to be ok.”
He lent a refreshing air to the evening- poking fun at many of the hypocritically “liberal” San Franciscans that were sure to be in the audience. Finally, he ended his short set with the quip: “Thanks a lot guys; I’m Nato Green! If you like me, I’m on Facebook… If you don’t, I’m on MySpace.”
Following (my new bestie) Nato was fellow Bay Area Native, John Austin. This dude had funny moments, but largely just elicited the illest side eye from me. (-_-) He was a hefty Black dude who talked a lot about smoking weed and going to jail. I’m not saying I haven’t laughed about things like this. What I’m saying is, you have to make it really, really funny for me to separate the reality of disproportionately high Black incarceration and recidivism rates, from the fantasy world some comedians are able to create.
Finally, Paul Mooney came out. I’ve been nurturing a mild obsession with him since Chappelle and old Richard Pryor clips first introduced me to him. The man is genuinely laugh out loud funny, and my high opinion of him has nothing to do with the fact that he shares the voice and wide smile of an aunt of mine.
He was wearing a Blue Beanie. A corded Black sweater. Black and White checkered Vans. “This is on purpose” distressed and torn jeans. He looked The.Same. The same as he had in the earliest pictures I’d seen of him. The same as he had in all the recorded stand up videos I’d watched of him, rapt. The same as he did when playing “Negrodamus” and “Ask a Black Dude” on Chappelle’s Show. Just like those Black people who decide to stop aging. Like Gabrielle Union and Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith and Stacey Dash. “Black don’t crack” only goes so far. These beauteous folks have made a deal with the devil, and there’s no two ways about it.
Paul Mooney is the man who can make you laugh about a truth. No matter how uncomfortable. No matter how racy. What follows are a few of my favorites from the night:
“White people name things white. Like near death experiences. What do they say? ‘I saw the white light.’ Close your eyes. What do you see? BLACK!”
On Chelsea Clinton: “She looks like Larry King with a wig on. Did you see the wedding? Veils everywhere!”
On Areetha Franklin: “Titties and Hats! Hats and titties! You think you’re the Queen of Soul? You’re the Dairy Queen now.”
On Janet Jackson and the Super bowl nip-slip “Tiny black titty with nuclear power. Didn’t think one that tiny could have that much power? It erased Justin’s memory!”
On the toll for the bridge to Oakland: “You can go broke trying to cross that bridge! Only in one direction though. Getting into the city. It’s free to go to Oakland though.”
“Turns out you can get the same effects of Viagra, naturally, through watermelon rinds. Yall were making fun of us … Lord works in mysterious ways.”
“Take a good look. I’ve never seen a monkey with nappy hair. It has thin lips/ Straight hair. White guy say ‘Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!’ He knows.”
On the Dave Chappelle show: “That was an incredible show. Wasn’t it? And it was funny! People keep asking me about what happened. I’ve been trying to convince Dave to do a movie about it. “Give me a break. Tell the real thing.” … I’ve been working on him for eight weeks. … I’m running out of weed though…”
In a cab leaving the show (that I had to step in front of and employ the help of nearby policemen to catch; don’t get me started), I heard a sound like rosaries swinging near the front seat. It permeated the still air in the car. The quiet clack-clack-clacking wafted languorously. The majestic tendrils convolved with my thoughts of irritating San Francisco liberal intolerance. Of comedic geniuses. Of the number of years it takes for such genius to be respected. Of the wonderful life that I live, where I can see all my comedic heroes in person. Of the cool breeze now coming in from the window. Of the story I’d have.