With a career spanning more than 20 years, Rodney Carrington has the polish of a comic who knows where his laughs are and his smooth, confident delivery helps sell every punch line, but his tired subject matter occasionally falls back on stereotype and cheap laughs. Jokes about family and going to church have potential to be anecdotally amusing, but are undercut by premises like the awkwardness of dealing with filthy prostitutes, nervously spotting an Islamic person in a shopping mall, and how "you can't slap your wife at the Walgreens!"
Carrington talks about the ups and downs of his long marriage and raising his kids, and it is his fatherhood material that works best. He compares his kids' lives to his own childhood and the resulting observations are funny but sweet. By contrast, some jokes about his wife cut very deep and even the audience response in the theatre falters.
Fans of Rodney Carrington know he is famous for his funny songs, and he acquits himself well as a singer and guitarist, but songs about his penis, or his wife screwing the pool boy again feel like shortcuts to easy laughs. Apparently, he has subsequently released more serious songs that have been well received.
Comics censured by political correctness have a valid point when they complain that sensitive audiences undermine the comedian's right to free speech when they place restrictions on what can or cannot be discussed. But that's not why Carrington could benefit from a change of direction in his material. When he talks about his kids, his childhood and his church, there is true nuance and reflection. But tired, off-colour jokes about women, sex, and other cultures feel like cheap shots from an otherwise talented performer. Laughter is good, as the title of his special suggests, so give us more to laugh about.
Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.