Rodney Carrington wasn't as raucous Friday night as he has been on earlier visits to Sioux City.
But the veteran comedian still knew where to find the laughs. Dusting off a few classic stories (including ones about friend Toby Keith and the perils of marriage), he seemed just as impish as ever. Credit those twinkling eyes and that devilish demeanor. Carrington's a charmer, no matter what the situation or how profane the experience.
Keith, he said, got so big in his career, there's nowhere for him to go but down. "I, however, can keep going sideways forever."
Now trying to raise teenagers, Carrington admitted his 17-year-old could beat him up while his middle son can stand in judgment of the songs that keep food on their table.
He offered up several new ones -- including one about someone without legs, which prompted his wife to say, "What is wrong with you?" -- and professed his love for Salma Hayek, the one woman he has loved from afar for years. The upshot? A song that included the line, "if I'm the only one you've ever loved, how come you have so many Mardi Gras beads?"
Carrington's comedy comes from an everyman perspective -- the little guy who dreams big but realizes his limitations. He connected routinely, even though his stories spiraled off into weird dimensions and, sometimes, didn't return. Like Jonathan Winters, he takes flights of fancy that even tickle him.
The mashup? He's part Larry the Cable Guy, part Jerry Seinfeld, part Garth Brooks. Sometimes the humor comes out in song, sometimes it emerges from an unlikely story.
At the Orpheum Friday, he got plenty of laughs from a visit to the Tulsa, Okla., zoo as a chaperone for his son's class. Needless to say, the story involved a monkey who was Carrington's size ("which is big for a monkey but tiny for a man"). The bit gave him ample opportunity to test the audience's taste limits (don't worry) and say things you'd only dream of after a long night at the bar.
In many ways, that's Carrington's gig -- he's the funniest guy you know who only gets better after a few drinks.
While some of his material needs updating (he told the same jokes about Sioux City that he did the last time), he scored with new stuff about the "familiar" years of marriage and his never-ending desire to have sex.
Carrington found new ways to use one specific word and got plenty of mileage out of Tiger Woods' marital woes. While the story tried to veer into one about his mother, he steered it away and found safer ground with his music.
A great singer (he could have had a fairly successful career), Carrington approached every song with great sincerity, even using a fake window to help sell a bit about his penis.
While it's probably time for the comedian to take his standup in a new direction, he can't lose with his attitude. He's the guy who took the risk and made it in the entertainment business. But in the end, he still managed to stay "that guy."