Mike Epps amusing, but often classless, at Milwaukee Theatre
Mike Epps, of Next Friday and The Hangover, does his impressions well, but hits sour notes when he gets personal.
Mike Epps, the comedic actor of Next Friday and The Hangover fame, showed off his funny bone to a packed house at the Milwaukee Theatre on Friday when he stopped in the city for a one-night-only show.
Epps got the audience laughing before he even took to the mic, when he rode a silver unicycle to the open stage, which boasted a glittering eponymous backdrop befitting of a rap superstar. Standing in a pimped-out Milwaukee Bucks letterman jacket, Epps wasted no time getting right to the jokes, a set of targeted comedic attacks on everything from overly skinny strippers to presidents past and present.
Among his most hilarious character assassinations: the “Mr. Charles” types in the audience – the (decidedly creepy) men who pair up with young women to “take them to a nice show,” then throw a fit when their debutante wants her bills paid without ever wanting to take their friendship to the bedroom.
“I know some of y’all sitting in here with Mr. Charles right now,” Epps laughed. “Don’t lie.”
One memorable stretch dragged celebrities into the mix, a subject that played well with an already howling audience. Epps took jabs at soul singer Stevie Wonder’s disappearing hairline, suggesting his “braids are halfway back, [he] looks like Homie the Clown.” He also ribbed pint-sized comedian Kat Williams for a purported confrontation with rappers Young Jeezy, 2 Chainz and Rick Ross, segueing into a funny, food-filled rap that mimicked the latter, heavy-set rapper’s raspy flow. Epps even got personal, disparaging fellow comedian Kevin Hart, the other half of a fight sparked online via Twitter a few days prior.
Unfortunately, getting personal wasn’t always as classy a move on Epps’ part, especially when he began to bring his private life into the public sphere. Much of the audience was likely aware that Epps’ 18-year-old daughter and her mother had recently released audio of the comedian threatening her over a tuition dispute, but when Epps brought it up on stage, calling his daughter a bitch and that her mother resembled James Brown, it came off as bitter and classless.
The harangue of cheap shots didn’t end there, creating an atmosphere that varied between sad and boring. His repeated references to marijuana grew tiresome and old (although people continued to laugh — likely a signal that they were his targeted audience), and some of his imitations, including crack addicts, pimps and the mentally ill, just made the audience uncomfortable. His nonchalance about it didn’t help either. “Y’all think I’m going to hell?” he challenged the audience. “Okay, I’m going to do it again.”
Epps certainly has a penchant for characterization, and while his content isn’t meant for the sensitive (these are jokes, after all) he remains a talented impressionist and storyteller. Yet somehow I expected more from the seasoned actor. Maybe like his breakout character from Next Friday, he was just having a rough “day-day.”