Even with a late start to the night, five all-star comedians – DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, Charlie Murphy and George Lopez – entertained a crowd of thousands with their "Comedy Get Down" stand-up show in First Niagara Center Saturday night.
Usually, comedians fight the last battle of political correctness, and several of those who performed were ready to take up the mantle with jokes about sex, politics, gender identity and more. Even the crowd was not immune to jokes from the comics, with the show starting 45 minutes late as people were still filing in a half-hour after the advertised showtime.
“You people are later than Mexicans,” said Lopez. “Next year I’m going to tell (you the show starts at) 4:15 so we can get started at 8:30.”
Each comedian performed for a half-hour on a square stage in the middle of First Niagara Center. But one of the biggest stars of the night wasn’t even there. The comedians dedicated the show to Prince, a musical legend who died Thursday. The show opened with Prince’s “Pop Life” to the roar of the approving crowd, and the comics all came out to songs from the purple one’s catalog.
One of the highlights of the night was Griffin, clad in a purple sweat suit to honor Prince. He offered a high-energy and fast-paced set that kept the crowd laughing throughout, and he wasn’t afraid to tackle every potential hot-button topic. He opened his set with a spirited defense of Bill Cosby, noting that “they” will do anything to take down black entertainers like Prince, Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson and Tiger Woods.
Griffin stood defiant as he theorized “they” would come after him, with anything they would have to ruin him: “I’ll tell you first. ‘Eddie Griffin drinks.’ Sure do, doing it right now! ‘He smokes!’ Not just cigarettes!”
The Cosby defense wasn’t the only high-wire bit of the night. At one point in his set, Murphy knowingly walked up to the line of homophobia before walking it back to make a general point about AIDS. But transphobic jokes? Totally on the table. Both Lopez and Murphy had extended bits at the expense of transsexuals.
It’s certainly in their rights to say these jokes. Another frequent target of the night was Donald Trump. Several comics mocked the Republican front-runner for attacking disenfranchised groups like Mexicans and Muslims. But wouldn’t transsexuals qualify as a disenfranchised group?
The comics poked fun at many of the presidential candidates still standing, but Trump suffered the worst beating at their hands.
Because of the late start and an early deadline, I didn’t get a chance to see Hughley or Cedric perform.