TV and radio personality Rickey Smiley brought his own unique brand of humor to the Durham Performing Arts Center on August 24th, after two previous sellouts at the venue. He also brought his friends, who brought their friends, who brought their friends, giving him yet another sellout. The popular comedian, star of “The Rickey Smiley Show, ” a sitcom loosely based on his own life, and host of “The Rickey Smiley Morning Show,” a morning radio show based in Atlanta, took the stage at 8:15 p.m. and entertained the crowd until even he had to note that people had “stayed up past their bedtimes.”
Taking the stage in a red beret and bow tie, the Alabama-born Smiley surprised the audience and set the tone for the evening, announcing that he was on first because he’d be acting as host but that he’d be performing in the times between his friends’ sets. As a nationally-syndicated radio personality, Smiley has become accustomed to introducing others and simply providing the comic relief, but he took it to another level at DPAC, interspersing his own brand of everyday characters (like “Mrs. Bernice Jenkins” and “Beauford”) into his portion of the evening’s acts.
Like most good comedians, Smiley also knows how to use his audience. The theater’s front row was populated with women who talked directly to Smiley and also stood up and danced to the music used to introduce each act. Their antics produced as many hoots and hollers as Smiley’s routines.
Though the promotional materials for Rickey Smiley & Friends listed two other comedians scheduled to join Smiley, he actually introduced three, giving the audience their money’s worth with a full show of comedy that ran almost three hours with no interission — a fact that pleased some but dismayed most. Audience members are used to having a break to stretch their legs and partake in some concessions, and comments overheard after leaving the event ranged from those who enjoyed Smiley and his “friends,” while others stated that the show was too long and uneven, sometimes painfully stretched with repeats of jokes already used in earlier portions of the show.
Smiley’s “friends” included Jaylyn Bishop, a dynamic young mother whose routine about the differences between Los Angeles and Durham hit home with the Durhamites who recognized her references to Dame’s Chicken and Waffles (a popular restaurant on Main Street) and the “healthy” size of the people in North Carolina as compared to the skeletons she sees on the streets of Los Angeles. Her energetic and fast-paced routine ranged from bits that exposed the pains of Brazilian waxes to the way her African mother keeps out of any type of conflict.
Ronnie Jordan, another of Smiley’s “friends,” has shared the stage with Smiley before, and has been touted as one of the country’s most popular stand-up comedians. A regular on the college circuit, Jordan does a spot-on imitation of “American Idol” winner Reuben Studdard, as well as routines about being overweight, hot dogs, and his final routine: making love to a sticky bun.
Comedian Marvin Hunter set the crowd rocking when he talked about the way people get paid and who keeps money in their pockets (asking the audience to make some noise if they have money in their pockets). That led into a routine about how older people offer him money to give them rides to/from doctor’s appointments and other errands, but when they give him the “little bit” they promised him, they do it with a cupped hand, as if the money is a big secret. Another native of Atlanta, Hunter credits Smiley with getting him on the comic map.
Rickey Smiley finished the show with a full band and some of the trademark songs that the crowd sang along with so loudly that he just pointed the mike in their direction. Inviting some of his “Q Dawg” fraternity brothers to the stage to dance with them, he challenged them to various steps, finally throwing down a mixture of hip-hop and old school that none of them could quite match and setting the audience into hysterics.
Though it’s obvious from the extensive routines and energy Smiley has that he can fill a venue the size of DPAC and keep everyone entertained, it might be a good idea for future shows to incorporate an intermission as well as to organize the show to keep it within a certain time parameter. No matter how good a comedian is, sooner or later the audience’s energy can’t keep up with the performers; and this show was a perfect example.
RICKEY SMILEY & FRIENDS, with special guests Jaylyn Bishop, Ronnie Jordan, and Marvin Hunter (Durham Performing Arts Center, Aug 24th).
VIDEO PREVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yIHOybMCMA.
NEWS RELEASE: http://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/rickey-smiley-returns-to-dpac-august-24.
Rickey Smiley (standup-comedian, actor, and broadcaster): http://www.rickeysmiley.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rickey_Smiley (Wikipedia).
Jaylyn Bishop a.k.a. “Just Jay” (comedian): http://jaylynbishop.com/JaylynBishop/Home.html (official website).
Ronnie Jordan (comedian): http://www.ronniejordan.net/ (official website).
Marvin Hunter (comedian): http://comedyhouse.us/marvin-hunter/ (Comedy House bio).
[RUN HAS CONCLUDED.]
Dawn Reno Langley is a Durham, NC-based author who writes novels, poetry, children’s books, and nonfiction books on many subjects, as well as theater reviews. She is also Dean of General Education and Developmental Studies at Piedmont Community College in Roxboro, where she oversees the theater program at the Kirby Cultural Arts Complex, and a member of the Person County Arts Council. To read all of Dawn Langley’s Triangle Review reviews online at Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/dawn-reno-langle/. To read more of her writings, click http://dawnrenolangley.blogspot.com/ and http://poetryandgardening.blogspot.com/.
This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Review, a FREE weekly e-mail entertainment newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill performing-arts events than all of the other news media combined. To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.
To read all of Dawn Reno Langley’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/dawn-reno-langle/.