Multi-hyphenate star gets his first stand-up show
Perhaps he could have spent a bit more time preparing.
That he comes out and spends an inordinate amount of time on crowd work (a theme that continues throughout the entire show) was the first bad omen. After declaring himself "America's Safest Negro" in a sarcastic self-introduction, he dives right in on race, honing in on Tammy and Todd, a white couple sitting in the front row. They would become his go-to target as he returns to race again and again, be it his bit about white people's ability to have meetings (which he decides is the black community's main weakness), talking about his youth attempting to be a part of gangs, drugs and crime or his bemused view of drunk white guys. This material was bound to lose me, as I find these types of jokes to be too easy and old-hat at this point, especially his nerdy white people voice, but if that's your cup of tea, Cannon goes for it with real enthusiasm. Unfortunately, he follows up all this material that's rooted in race with a hypocritical call to end racism, which would essentially end his stand-up career.
His other key theme is being famous, which makes sense considering how many famous people he interacts with on a regular basis, particularly his wife Mariah. He mines that relationship for a good chunk of his show, thankfully choosing to go the self-deprecating route rather than be a braggart, downplaying his role in the Eminem/Mariah clash, and portraying his spouse as his pimp, who keeps him in line before red-carpet appearances. Though some of these bits work, like the ones on celebrity kids and how his life has turned out to be a really good game of M.A.S.H., his jokes about his celebrity friends congratulating him on his marriage only provided the opportunity to see Cannon's less-than-impressive impersonations, including Kanye West, Adam Sandler, Dave Chappelle and Denzel Washington. If he hadn't said who he was doing, the extended Washington bit would have just been an odd segment about some guy saying Denzel Washington movie quotes to Nick Cannon.
Where Cannon really succeeds is in his more down-to-earth stories, about growing up without much, talking about bootleg toys and entertaining yourself, or the list of off-brand cereal mascots he knew thanks to having a cheap mom. And though this special barely pre-dates his becoming a father, the topic was definitely on his mind, as he shares his fears about being a dad, thanks to the bad kids in his family, and the role models he's had, good and bad. When you see him being real, and succeeding at it, it makes you think the rest of the show might be inauthentic (and, at 90 minutes, too long) which is why it doesn't quite work. But hey, it's his first crack at stand-up in the spotlight. Practice makes perfect.
The audio is presented via a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that puts you in the middle of the audience, like all good stand-up DVDs, putting Cannon in the center channel, and leaving the surrounds to the audience's reaction, with a touch of echo from Cannon. Everything is captured nicely, and Cannon is clear and free of distortion. It's still just stand-up, but it's handled well.
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