Shaquille O’Neal’s All-Star Comedy Jam



photo courtesy codeblack entertainment

All-Stars Corey Holcomb, DeRay Davis, Michael Blackson and Gary Owen on stage at Humphrey’s in San Diego, CA

by Martina Marosi

What: Shaquille OâÄôNealâÄôs All-Star Comedy Jam

Where: State Theatre,

When: Doors open at 7 p.m.; show at 8 pm, Saturday

Cost: $38 to $48

After an illustrious career of shattering backboards, releasing platinum rap albums and generally ShaqqinâÄô around, Superman has landed to take his hand-picked all-star team of comedians on a sprawling national tour that will come to Minneapolis on Saturday.

The tour is an outpost of the televised Comedy Jams, which were filmed during NBA All-Star weekends and have aired annually since 2009. The Minneapolis Jam will include Corey Holcomb, Gary Owen, Michael Blackson, Capone and host DeRay Davis.

Shaq superfans can wish upon their biggest boombox that the âÄúKazaamâÄù star will make an appearance at the State Theatre, and such a prayer could be answered by the big man himself. Comedian Owen, who has been featured in almost every Jam tour show since it kicked off in early September, alludes to the possibility of a Big Shaqtus in the audience.

âÄúWe never know when heâÄôs going to show up,âÄù Owen said.

Owen was deemed, at one point in his career, the funniest black comedian in America. However, like âÄúfirst black presidentâÄù Bill Clinton, Owen is white.

âÄúThat would be like Brent Barry winning the Dunk Contest, honestly, back in the day,âÄù Owen said.

Owen is the type of comedian who was born to perform in a big theater. His routines orbit around the cultural differences between black and white people, peppered by accessible commentary and observations that never spin out into obscurity. His informal delivery âÄî which lingers on the cross street of âÄúKnow what IâÄôm sayinâÄô?âÄù street and âÄúYou know what IâÄôm talkin about!âÄù avenue âÄî occasionally has glimmers of scream-king Sam Kinison, but is uniquely void of cynicism. This is a quality that lends itself well to the levity with which he approaches his touchy subject matter.

The Caucasian-black comedian often plays to black audiences, and he openly addresses the color line as a naive outsider. One of his best bits outlines his experience attending a black church.

As the story goes on, OwenâÄôs uptight attentiveness quickly unravels after itâÄôs clear the service is far more elaborate than at his âÄúwhite church.âÄù

âÄúItâÄôs 1:30, IâÄôm ready to go home!âÄù Owen shouts. âÄúYou have a step team?! The First Baptist Steppers? Come on itâÄôs 6 oâÄôclock! IâÄôm starving!âÄù

Host Davis is considerably more relaxed in his approach to telling jokes. Davis, who premiered a one-hour comedy special (âÄúPower PlayâÄù) on Showtime last July, has a conversational delivery style that is astonishingly fresh and off-the-cuff.

âÄúI wanna apologize, first off, for not havinâÄô no jokes,âÄù Davis says at the beginning of his set on âÄúThe Big Black Comedy Show.âÄù DavisâÄôs material ranges from stories about growing up on ChicagoâÄôs south side to commentary on everyday social events. Punchlines are not so much tagged onto the end of his jokes as woven throughout them.

 The comedians who make up this âÄúJamâÄù may not necessarily be all stars in everyoneâÄôs eyes, but doggone it, if theyâÄôre good enough for Shaq, theyâÄôre good enough for the average, not- 7-foot Joe.