Review: Katt Williams returns to Tampa, talks race, religion and more at the USF Sun Dome
Surprising things happened at Katt Williams' Growth Spurt Tour stop at the University of South Florida Sun Dome Saturday night, and all of them were good.
First and foremost, Katt Williams took the stage and performed. It wasn’t a given, as the crowd of 4,000 was keenly aware. In February 2013, fans were livid when Williams’ show was canceled after his set was supposed to begin because of travel issues that prevented the comedian from arriving in Tampa. Tickets were refunded and there was no talk of rescheduling for a later date.
When Williams finally announced a Tampa tour date, the venue had changed to the Sun Dome and potential ticket buyers were gun shy. Rumors circulated as early as Tuesday that the comedian had already arrived in Tampa, the venue not wanting to take any chances.
Then the show, which was supposed to begin at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, started to run behind. As the DJ set rolled on and on, nervous glances were exchanged. Twenty minutes late, emcee and comedian Richie Redding took the stage and warmed the crowd up for Williams’ two opening acts.
New face Ashima Franklin, a Mobile, Ala.-reared, self-professed baby mama, dove right into the deep end of vulgarity, finding laughs in penis comparisons and sexual humor that elicited claps of glee. Her best work concerned her 5-year-old son’s father, and the responsibility she feels toward him as a former lover.
“My baby’s father can’t even buy a new ringtone around me,” she quipped. “If he gets a new rington I’m taking him to court to get more child support.”
BET Comic View regular Red Grant used current music to bolster his jokes, working in concert with a DJ to rile up the crowd and build up the party atmosphere before Williams’ set. Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines became a running gag because of the effect it has on men of all walks, removing their ability to look cool.
“T.I. is a thug. He got caught with 67 M-16s on some thug s---,” Grant joked. “But when his part comes on this song, he was right there dancing with his arm up.”
Williams came out just after 9:50 p.m. wearing a black, floor-length, hooded fur coat to Schoolboy Q’s Man of the Year. He bounced around the hilariously oversized set, which featured a giant sofa, area rug and lamp, illustrating the inalienable truth that Katt Williams in not a large man.
True to form, the comedian took a few jabs at his size, but the majority of his set was reserved for broad jokes about America’s awesomeness, weed smoking, being arrested frequently and race.
“I’m on a new program now. I call it stay the f--- out of jail,” he deadpanned. “How do you get arrested five times in five days in five different cities?”
During his very public personal failures, which included numerous arrests around the country and a TMZ blow-by-blow of each indiscretion, Williams explained that he was even able to see the laughter in that.
“They even put me in an institution with real crazy people. You might think you’re crazy until you get around some real crazy people,” he said. “You haven’t lived until you try to break up a fight between a motherf----- and hisself.”
Along with the jingoistic overtones, Williams also explored one surprising personal issue, his faith. He talked about being sent death threats from atheists because he often states that he thinks a person should believe in something.
“I’m not scared of your death threats. You don’t even have any backup,” he said. “If you kill me, I’m going straight to Jesus and snitching.”
As quickly as he bopped on stage, Williams speed-walked off, leaving applause -- if not a standing ovation -- in his wake. The set wan’t his funniest material, but the crowd was happy to be present for the time it actually happened. Seeing Williams in the flesh translates much better than trying to make sense of his atmospheric brand of comic in the comfort of your living room. Katt Williams is a group experience, best done in an arena with drink in hand.
-- Robbyn Mitchell, tbt*