Share this article

print logo

Carey brings crass charm to Seneca stage

NIAGARA FALLS – Beaming Drew Carey brought his “first love” – stand-up comedy – to Niagara Falls on Saturday night, performing to a nearly sold-out Seneca Niagara Events Center. “Under 16 not permitted” advised promotional materials, but no one needed to fear the traumatization of any minors: there was but a handful of young faces amid the very mature audience. The rapt crowd was not too mature, however, to abstain from enjoying the onslaught of ribald barroom humor that followed for the next hour.

Carey bound onstage to a huge ovation, effusing much Midwestern charm and uttering, “Nice to see ya! I’ve never been here before – did you know Niagara Falls is entirely man-made?” He commented on the people he’d seen as he toured the falls, how he “could probably sell barrels to go over the falls for twenty bucks.”

He spoke of his extreme weight loss, and, as someone who feels a responsibility to share his life-changing experience, gave the key to his thinning: “diet and exercise, there are no magic pills.” He ridiculed a doctor who told him to listen to his formerly “fat and friendly” body. “I’m not listening to my body, that’s how I got so fat in the first place.”

Carey’s material was honed over the past year and culled over a lifetime. Humanity, in the world of blue Drew, appears in all its unfettered, crass and primal nakedness. Read: most of his hilarity, and observations, are unprintable. Drew Carey is a Good Time Charlie with a pervasive sweetness, so jokes swerve before careening into deep ruts of vulgarity.

The comic, like a long line of others before him, meandered from comedy club stages to televised sit-coms in the ’90s. Carey’s sitcom resume includes his eponymous show with its censor-pushing, nine-year run. Carey, who has revealed during various hot-seat television interviews, as well as in his bestselling autobiography Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined (proudly created sans ghostwriter), his love of all naughty things in Vegas, is the consummate bad boy.

Even in his role as the emcee of daytime game show “The Price is Right,” he emerges as benevolent pit boss, offering tips to players as he watches over the games of chance to win cash, or other consumer goodies. His offhand comments, and his winning smile, make “The Price Is Right” much more fun to watch since his reign began in 2007. Through the veneer of custom-made suits, bright lights and predictable bursts of winning, he remains the guy who wants to kick back and down a cocktail (or fire one up – pantomimed several times during his show) the second he’s off studio grounds.

He spoke at length during Saturday’s show about his fame and his role in “The Price is Right,” possibly the role for which he is best known right now. It is, as he states, “the best job in the world.”

“Pardon my language if you’re a 'Price is Right’ fan. I can say whatever I want tonight, I can’t swear on ‘Price is Right’ … but I want to: ‘Holy (****) you won a (****) car!” He added: “If you ever read I’m retiring, tune in, it’ll be a show full of weird edits, only 17 minutes long!”

Carey singled out a young audience member near the stage, Sarah, and her boyfriend, Joe, who became fodder for a stream of bawdiness. When Sarah reported that she’s a “dietary assistant,” he asked, “What do you do – cut food for old people?” He’s hilarious, but not mean. And he apologized to Joe: “I’m not flirting with her, I’m old.”

“You learn to be happy with what you’ve got {when you’re older},” said Carey. He went on to muse that at this phase of his life he’s “better looking than Mel Gibson.”

Opening comics Heather and Miles, handpicked by Carey to tour with him after seeing them in Los Angeles, performed a meandering act for 20 brisk minutes. Taking a suggested topic from the audience, “Batman,” they riffed on various vignettes incorporating familiar terrain such as the battle of the sexes, along with curious overworked references to elephants and super heros. There were faltering moments, and Miles relied on too many predictably placed f-words for shock value. They were fairly likable – but not hilarious. That job rested on the shoulders of the much thinner, likeable Mr. Carey.