This weekend, Paul Mooney brought his trademark brand of in-your-face observational comedy to the Miami Improv. For over an hour and a half, he sat on a stool in front of a mixed crowd of over 200 people and ripped on race relations, celebrities, and our favorite source of comedic inspiration, George Bush. The 60-something Mooney isn't known for walking on eggshells during his routines and he did not disappoint. Fans who've known him since his years as a writer for Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx and fell back in love with him as the black prophet Negrodamus on the Chappelle's Show filled the room, paying 21 bucks to see the man speak.
In previous shows, Mooney has made folks abandon whatever big bucks they paid for their tickets and walk out after a particularly offensive joke. But on Friday night, no rib on a murdered marine, comparison of Barbara Bush to that guy on the Quaker Oats box, or the true definition of "real white people" gave anyone a reason to leave. Maybe it was the super-strict 2-drink minimum the Improv holds over your head or maybe it's the fact that America is ready to laugh at itself, and each other. Mooney's set did have the crowd rolling for most of the night, but a few jokes seemed to suck the air out of the room, and there were more than a few outbursts of "ouch" throughout his show. But in the words of Mooney, "Fuck you, it's funny. And if you die, it'll still be funny." His constant references to race did grow a bit tedious, but the majority of the people in the audience didn't seem to mind. Maybe my own exasperation was due to the fact that I was drinking 100 proof spring water, who knows what I would have thought after a few vodka tonics. -- Raina McLeod