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Review: Adam Carolla, Dennis Prager kick off a star-studded Republican National Convention week at Tampa's Straz Center




Sunday was supposed to be the first star-studded day of the Republican National Convention, with performances by Lynyrd Skynyrd in downtown Tampa and Rodney Atkins at Tropicana Field. But with Hurricane Isaac throwing the GOP’s schedule into the air, the weekend’s celebrity spotlight fell on two conservative stars at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts: Comic and podcaster Adam Carolla and radio host and columnist Dennis Prager.

The duo’s onstage conversation, audience Q&A and post-show cigar smoker was not affiliated with the RNC – aside from the fact that Prager will here be in Tampa covering it all week – but their casual, comedic back-and-forth made for an attractive Saturday-night entertainment option for delegates who arrived in Tampa early. For more than two hours, including a VIP meet-and-greet, Carolla and Prager engaged in an affable chat about conservatism, political correctness and gender politics.

Unlike many who will speak at the RNC, Carolla and Prager were not merely preaching to the choir. Judging by applause from the audience, there were more than a few liberals in the crowd, including plenty of Carolla's old Loveline fans. But that did not stop them from hitting most major Republican talking points.

Though the course of political discussion was mostly dictated by Prager, both men agreed with each other on nearly every issue, espousing the benefits of small government (Carolla: “All you have to do is get out of the way, and we run ourselves pretty damn well”), the pitfalls of Obamacare (Prager: “If we should have nationalized health care, why not nationalized everything?”) and the value of self-reliance (Prager: “The guy who earns a Chevrolet is much happier than the guy who is bequeathed a $360,000 Lexus”).

Prager asked Carolla: If you could become President Obama for 60 seconds, what would you say to win over conservative voters?

“Look at the economy as a jar of pickles,” Carolla said. “I was loosening the lid for the first four years; now this baby’s getting ready to pop. Who wants a pickle?”

“You got my vote,” Prager replied.

Carolla, who admitted he’s grown more conservative with age, was at his best when he does what he does on his podcast – just let the conversation flow while weaving in stories from his life. He told several just from the previous 24 hours, including taking his family out to dinner on Friday night. And when prompted by the audience, he was more than willing to complain about techno music, life in California and the overhydration of children.

Other political topics of discussion:

Gun control might be a lost cause… “There’s so many handguns and firearms in circulation at this point that the horses will never get back in the barn,” Carolla said.

…But so might opposing gay marriage. “It is basically here,” Carolla said. “I have bigger fish to fry than this.” On this point, Prager disagreed with Carolla, although he did say protesting Chik-fil-A was just as stupid as protesting, say, Ben & Jerry’s.

There’s a reason for all this security in downtown Tampa. When an audience member asked what they thought about all the fences and police presence in their city, Prager said: “I think this is the price we are paying for Islamic terrorism. Every time I take my shoes off at the airport, I think of ‘Allahu Akbar,'" referring to the Arabic phrase that translates to “God is great,” reportedly used by the 9/11 terrorists and other extremists.

Don’t praise children. Okay, that one might not be part of the official Republican platform. But Carolla and Prager lamented the over-boosterism of children at every turn. “Think of the people with the finest character in your life – friend, relative or acquaintance,” Prager said, “and I want you to ask them, ‘Did you have high self-esteem as a child?’ I bet you none of them did.”

Todd Akin is an “idiot.” Prager made a point of calling out the much-criticized Missouri Congressman and his "legitimate rape" comments. “It’s a statement of idiocy, and a conservative has to announce, ‘Even one of my own can be an idiot.’”

There were no such Akinisms or Daniel Toshisms at Saturday’s show, although the evening did not entirely unfold without, as Carolla might say, a light dusting of rape jokes.

Prager began the show by effusively praising Tampa, saying, “I think this is the friendliest city in the United States of America.”

Carolla waited a beat before chiming in: “I was brutally raped at the airport.”

Laughter. “But not by a Tampan,” Prager pointed out.

“No, these guys were from Phoenix.”

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Sunday, August 26, 2012 1:36am]


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