Jason Skorski: George Wallace: A thinking man's funny man

BY JASON SKORSKI

Published March 16, 2006

Hello friends. How have you been? Thank you for the wonderful flowers and chocolates, but I don't think you'll be goading me into writing a second column. Oh. Nevermind.

Sorry about that last review. It was pretty mean, I know. But that wasn't me. My pet manatee, Jerry, wrote it while drunk and pretending to be me. I hope it didn't offend any of you damn idiots.

So in case some of you think I actually go around tallying banal conversations I hear in lunchrooms, let's remember one thing, chums. Humor lends itself to histrionic hogwash. Normally I wouldn't need to explain this, but then, this isn't Gargoyle Humor Magazine (plug! plug!). And if you'd rather read arguments about political puppet shows written in conventional parlances and stiff-ass journalistic formalities, what are you doing with The Statement? Really.

Today we're going to review popular comedian George Wallace, and his new live show, "I Be Thinkin'." Do you know George Wallace? I just said that he was popular, so if you don't know him, well, that just messes everything up. So Google him.

Oh man. I love you, George Wallace. I was in Las Vegas yesterday, as George would say. Actually, I was there two weeks ago. I witnessed a woman jumping out of magician Lance Burton's stomach and I saw David Copperfield impregnate a woman without physical contact. But even that couldn't prepare me for a front-row-seat view of George Wallace jumping out from behind theater curtains and thrusting his pelvis at the audience from the front row amidst in-your-face music and flashing lights. "We're gonna have a good time!" he roared, his voice booming with the thunderous energy of the mighty Thor. Well, he was right.

Right off the bat, I'll say that Wallace is smart to avoid the usual stand-up hackery of comedians who rely on anecdotes about bad sexual experiences and real-life "humor" that you could hear on any tepid sitcom.

Hey. Stop reading this. Stop, and go stare at a wall for two hours. And clap once in a while. You've just experienced the whole gamut of emotions felt during many stand-up comedy showcases.

Fortunately, there's some laughing to go with the clapping in Wallace's routine, so it would make sense that the man's been hailed as the "Godfather of Comedy", and received the American Comedy Award in 1995. With his infectious energy and quick-thinking quips, George is very nearly indestructible as a comedian. He proves this during the section of the show where audience members throw any topic at him to tackle and he retorts with a joke without hesitation. I'd write them out, but it's the delivery that matters. And nobody says "special delivery" more than George Wallace. Whew, that can be taken so many ways .

After some witty banter with the audience and a declaration of his disapproval of all the states the audience members are from, George announces he's bringing out his 4-year-old son, who wrote a comedy act alllllllllll byyyyy himself! "Aw man," you think, "shameless self-promotion." But then a 33-year-old fast-talking maniac comes out, and you realize this isn't Wallace's kid. It's Chris Tucker! Whoa.

So, for the rest of the show, George Wallace and Chris Tucker play off each other's comedy, dancing around each other's words in a mystical, romantic way. It's oh-so-cute! No, not really. But they're pretty damn hilarious. This fun bonus wasn't even advertised. "You never know what's gonna happen when you see George Wallace," as the man himself says.

So where does Wallace's brilliance come from? Good genes, probably. But other than that, Wallace says his first comedic inspiration actually came from his church pastor, who would always open with a joke before his sermons. He proceeds to tell the joke, which I won't write out. But the punchline is that Jesus didn't own a car. Whew! Oh man! That one always gets me. Rimshot!

You can also win free stuff at George Wallace's show. Like a pack of batteries. And a diamond necklace. And gonorrhea. And a new car. Wait! Pick the one that doesn't belong! You can't advance to the next sentence until you do. Next sentence. Yes, it was gonorrhea. As for the car, it busts out of the wall in the middle of the show and runs over the audience. No, actually they didn't even have a car. But in our post-show conversation, George assured me that they were planning something spectacular with this car giveaway in the near future.

Wallace is one of those live entertainers that you don't have to watch with a patronizing smile as you fidget in your chair and wonder why you wasted $50. On the contrary, he's easily one of the most clever comedians of our time, and the refreshing, interactive nature of his show gives fans the incentive to see it again. And again. You never know what's gonna happen when you see George Wallace. So hop on a bus to Vegas and see this man while he's there. And if you don't like him, hop on another bus that leads straight to hell.

George Wallace: "I Be Thinkin'"

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Jason can be reached by e-mail at jskorski@umich.edu.