Preach on, Mr. David Alan Grier. We are still listening.
And when we say preach, we mean it just as figuratively as we do literally. The comedic legend still owns the stage like a minister owns the pulpit, beckoning laughter from his congregation with the same assured cadence of a trusted leader of men, each punchline delivered with that You-Got-to-RISE-UP exclamation point.
Yes, Grier, or DAG as he’s bizarrely known in some circles, has had a tough couple of years, recently divorced for a second time and working through the cancellation of the short-lived Chocolate News on Comedy Central. But onstage, the Church of David Alan Grier is strong as ever, evidenced by a tour de force performance over the weekend at Cobb’s. It might have been one of the best shows of the year in a venue that regularly brings in the country’s top talent.
Grier looked a youthful 56 years old–even hip, with shaved bald head and denim jacket. And, to be sure, he showed no signs of slowing down. He’s just as quick and sharp as he was during his In Living Color days, shooting rapid-fire anecdotes from the hip, deflecting crowd interruptions with ease, never hesitating. It was the work of a virtuoso soloist at the top of his game.
He touched on various pop culture icons such as Tiger Woods (“These white ladies (banged) the talent out of him!”), Mel Gibson and President Obama (“I voted for a black president; lately he’s just been beige. I wanted him to be the guy who you close your windows and lock your doors when he’s coming down the street. Fear and intimidation!”). But the lion’s share of his stand-up was a wise man’s take on relationships — and the difference between marriage and the single life. Having been through his fair share of both, Grier addressed the young men in the audience: “Are you listening? I’m trying to help! You gotta listen to me like I’m Oprah with a (penis).”
He talked about those first days in a relationship when there’s no hassles, just rose petals and sex, all day every day. “Should I tell them what happens?” he asked the more experienced couples (identifying them, then recognizing their yells — “I know that scream, like a prisoner who one day dreams of freedom!”). “Should I spoil the surprise?” he asked again.
And Grier spoiled the surprise and then some, acting out the scenes of everyday married life like Will Smith acting out the life of Muhammad Ali, fighting for every last word. He eventually summarized: “I ruined two perfectly good whores with matrimony and devotion."
Grier, never one to shy away from theatrics, again proved himself quite the physical comedian. He pantomimed (and beatboxed) his way through a single dude’s typical night at the club as well as the hunt for intimacy with one’s wife with equal zeal. And he recounted his own sobering realization at the club, when an old bathroom attendant — so old he looked like he could have been a “runaway slave” — said he’d been watching Grier his whole life and would love an autograph. “Whole life? What does that mean for me?”
What it really means is Grier has had a career anyone could call complete, but let’s hope he’s nowhere near the finale. Let us pray that Minister DAG is just getting started.
Feature act Hugh Moore, another known entity from Chocolate News, warned the crowd that “I'll be doing a lot of complaining tonight,” but it never seemed like the work of an old curmudgeon, but a fresh voice on the rise. He had a great bit about not liking women who smoke weed — “you know they get that weed-smoker voice — ‘You know I be pregnant right?’ ” Moore also pointed out the inordinate amount of crazy people in San Francisco, but that it’s not the ones who are talking to themselves who are really crazy, it’s the ones who listen to themselves, nodding silently to themselves as if they’re getting directions from a possessor. Come to think of it, he’s right, and often.