The right to offend

Rodney Carrington’s “Here Comes the Truth” at Victoria

By Don Hurst

Photo: Rodney Carrington performs on Feb. 19 at the Victoria Theatre; photo: Laura Goldstein

“You have offended about everyone on the planet. When people leave your show they have to go home and scrub their whole skin down with a wire brush and go talk to a preacher because you’re that damn awful,” Rodney Carrington reads a review written by someone less than impressed with his brand of humor.

The review chastises him for making fun of Muslims, Mexicans, black people, women and just about everybody else who walks this earth. Then it shames him for being a disgusting, nose-picking fatty. Finally it closes with a passionate plea for Carrington to quit performing because his career is finished.

Carrington smiles at the end of the post and admits it’s pretty funny. Twenty-seven years of offending and entertaining audiences around the world has familiarized him with negative reviews. As his “Here Comes the Truth” tour rolls into the Victoria Theater on Feb. 19, don’t expect him to pull any punches.

Even edgy comedians pay homage to political correctness. Celebrities spend about as much time defending errant tweets taking out of context as they do promoting their work. Carrington does not allow that atmosphere to influence his work. He tells his story and his truth the way he sees it.

“My act isn’t for sissies,” Carrington says. Nothing is off limits.

Male anatomy occupies a prominent place in Carrington’s oeuvre. “Letter to My Penis” is the number one song from his debut album Hangin’ with Rodney. His follow up recording Mornin’ Wood certified gold in the U.S. During his last televised special Laughter is Good he sang a heartfelt country duet with his aging and inactive member.

Sure, dick jokes are lowbrow entertainment, but they are truly universal across all cultures and times in history. Even Shakespeare wrote dick jokes. Just because they are in iambic pentameter doesn’t make them any less raunchy.

Completely ignoring political correctness and good taste has not endeared Carrington to the critics. “Beer for My Horses,” a comedy movie he co-starred and co-wrote, received a zero percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Variety wrote that the film was “aimed at folks who felt intellectually challenged by the complex narrative stratagems of The Dukes of Hazzard and The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo.”

The lack of critical accolades has not interfered with Carrington’s success. Laughter is Good just celebrated its 63rd week on Billboards’ Top Ten Comedy Albums list. He has sold over three million copies of his recordings. He routinely performs in front of sold out audiences all over the country. Even “Beer for My Horses” earned a higher audience approval on Rotten Tomatoes than Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq” and Bill Murray’s latest offering “Rock the Kasbah.”

Carrington says his fans respond to him so well because “I’m the same as they are. Just trying to do my best in life, day by day. And I tell them the truth.”

Truth is Carrington’s religion. There is no room for politically correct falsehoods. Truth can be offensive. It can hurt. But it can also set you free if you acknowledge it.

Rednecks can be stupid. Muslims can be scary. Spouses can get fat. If we can’t acknowledge our thoughts and fears, especially the ugly ones, then we can’t grow.

Every performance, Carrington examines the hard truth about his life. He bares his soul, blemishes and tragedies in front of the audience in a way that makes people laugh. Sharing his individual pain, Rodney has created something universal.

On the surface, his songs are about penises, beer and boobs. Underneath all of that is a deeper message about a guy trying to find love, acceptance and his place in this world. Carrington traces his story from his younger days drinking his way through some good ol’ boy hedonism to the trials and joys of manhood.

Carrington is at his best when he explores the challenges of a long marriage. Desperation men feel when the spark fades and stomachs sag drives much of his humor. Eighteen years of matrimony taught Carrington many important lessons that are applicable to all long-time husbands. Be happy with your scoop of vanilla and don’t go after the double scoop of chocolate you see your buddy licking. When spooning in bed never ever grab your wife’s belly. There will come a time when you both are too disgusted to look at each other so you might as well enjoy each other now.

His recent divorce also taught him lessons he shares with the audience. On stage, he hashes out how he picked up the pieces when his world crumbled around him. How do you stay funny and positive when your heart is broken? The answer, the truth, is that laughter is good. It’ll get you through the downs of life.

Even if you’re offended by Carrington’s jokes and his worldview, his heart is in the right place. He connects to the audience by baring everything, every fault and blemish. The audience roots for him because he is in the same trenches with them, just trying to figure out how to make sense of the world.

Rodney Carrington performs at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19 at the Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St. in Dayton. Tickets are $30-$44.75. A VIP meet and greet ticket is available for $179.75. Two dollars of every ticket goes to benefit the Rodney Carrington Foundation. The show is recommended for mature audiences only. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit rodneycarrington.com or my.ticketcenterstage.com.

 

Don Hurst is a combat vet and a former police officer. He now lives in Dayton where he writes novels and plays. Reach DCP freelance writer Don Hurst at DonHurst@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

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Don Hurst is a combat vet and a former police officer. He now lives in Dayton where he writes novels and plays. Reach DCP freelance writer Don Hurst at DonHurst@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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