What you see is what you get when it comes to Mike Epps doing standup comedy. On October 10 and 11, 2014, Epps performed for DC audiences his brand of “comedy for the grown and sexy” in his After Dark Tour at The Warner Theatre.
The underrated comedian/actor/producer is best known for his work as Day-Day in Next Friday and the sequel-to-the-sequel, Friday After Next, the second and third installment of the Friday series, and as a Black Doug in the Hangover movies. Epps was also host of HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and several HBO comedy specials.
Mike Epps has recently generated a great amount of buzz when it was announced in August that has been cast to play Richard Pryor in an upcoming biopic directed by Lee Daniels. The film will also include Oprah Winfrey playing Pryor’s abusive grandmother Marie Carter.
Two extraordinary talents – Antoine Blackman and Henry Welch – joined Epps on his After Dark Tour at The Warner making this concert a complete, fully satisfying experience. The D.C. based opening act, Blackman “representing Southeast DC” joked about relationships, Hood Rats, and he enthusiastically checked the crowd on their knowledge of infamous “DCisms.” He knows how to set a concert off and get the audience fired up.
Henry Welch might be dressed like a school teacher, but he calls himself the “most feared man in comedy,” and has the makings of a comedian with his own comedy special in the future. Welch just about steals the show – he’s REALLY funny. His observant, quick wit had me doubled over several times during his 25 minutes as the middle act, and there wasn’t a moment when I wasn’t laughing from his cutting edge jokes that he told the audience “Y’all ain’t ready for me.” There was no topic off guard for the rapid-fire verbal unleashing of Henry Welch. He spared little expense for late patrons and “old theater ushers,” and his jokes about the Redskins, and the “rachid Atlanta reality shows” where he currently lives “are intended to offend,” he said. “That’s right, I said it.”
All of that was a great warm up and set the stage for the Headliner and man of the hour Mike Epps. In the spirit of a “grown and sexy” atmosphere, the stage was groomed with an upscale club setting transformed into a sophisticated set with red curtains with a urban cityscape backdrop. Before he took the stage, a video short played with “Playa,” with Mike Epps in the lead that did little for me in terms of comedy but it was a nice, original touch.
Once Epps takes the stage the hilarious evening of comedy continues.
Mike Epps immediately taking command, wasted no time with a crowd favorite topic: women and relationships. What is as funny as Epps’ humor about these relatable topics is how much he is entertained at his own jokes, laughing and hitting the mike twice when he kills with a joke. “I’m just like you, for real,” he cracks.
The flow of topics moved swiftly as talk segued into the differences between white and black strip clubs, jealousies, Ray Rice, parenthood and disciplining your children, ass-whippings by black mothers, and yes, Adrian Peterson. He was no-hold- barred and on-fire. His most memorable moments though are his vocal impressions – especially with President Obama. He sounds just like Obama! It’s a little creepy, and yet so effective in the storytelling. When he uses that voice and jokes about the President “f**king up the White House intruder,” you can’t help but laugh out loud. Then his imitation of an older guy wooing a younger woman – and all the challenges that entails – made my sides ache.
It was enjoyable how Mike Epps took his time enjoying the moment through the concert, entertaining the crowd for over an hour with prepared sketches but also improvising spontaneously to funny happenings and crowd observations. He’s a great standup comic.
The cherry-on-top of an excellent evening of comedy escape was a ‘battle’ between Mike Epps and Henry Welch at the end, who was called back to the stage as they both went at each other “Playing the Dozens.”
Running Time: One hour 45 minutes, with no intermission.