Friday, May 25, 2018
Stage

Aziz Ansari, Katt Williams, Joan Rivers and Bill Cosby in heavyweight weekend comedy lineup

For fans of standup comedy, this weekend is a fight to the uproarious death. You could put your money on all four comedy heavyweights coming through the region, but that's going to add up fast. We pitted these wildly divergent comics against each other, rating their style, substance and subject matter. The champion? That's all a matter of taste.

Katt Williams

Stats: Age 40. Played Money Mike in Friday After Next, plus roles on My Wife and Kids, Norbit and cartoon The Boondocks. Did improv for three seasons on Nick Cannon's Wild 'n Out.

Style: Frantic, sweaty, flamboyant. Gets physical, rolling around the stage, kicking his stool, pacing. Wears velvet blazers and tuxedos with sneakers and curls his hair into ambitious shapes. Jokes about race, sex, politics and random stuff, like NASA getting more secretive every year.

Dirty fighting: HIGH ALERT, HIGH ALERT. Let's just say it was difficult to find a joke we could publish.

Weakness: Unreliable at best. Arrested five times in four months. Known to storm off stage after getting into it with hecklers. Was a no-show for a 2013 show in Tampa, which the venue blamed on "unforeseen travel issues."

Knockout joke: About the Crocodile Hunter: "If you think he ain't gangsta, go to your neighbors' house and jump on their rottweilers, see how that works out for you." (Then he tackled his stool like it was a crocodile).

Show: Katt Williams' Growth Spurt Tour comes to the University of South Florida Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave. in Tampa, at 8 p.m. Saturday. $48.75-$128.75. Toll-free 1-800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com.

Bill Cosby

Stats: Age 76. Celebrated comedian, writer and TV star. Created Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and spent eight seasons as besweatered dad Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show. Earned a doctorate in education and is outspoken on social issues impacting African-Americans.

Style: Slow, rambling monologues about family life. His Bill Cosby: Himself special from 1983 is one of the most enduring pieces of comedy ever. Everyone knows the monologue about children having brain damage, and the one about giving the kids chocolate cake for breakfast ("Eggs! Eggs are in chocolate cake. And milk!").

Dirty fighting: Wholesome as wholesome gets.

Weakness: His reputation is sentimental. If you're looking for edge, consider this a sphere.

Knockout joke: "My parents never smiled . . . because I had brain damage. My wife and I don't smile because our children are loaded with it. Oh, my parents smile now, whenever they come over to the house and see how much trouble I'm having. Oh, they have a ball! 'Having a lil' trouble, huh, son?' "

Show: Bill Cosby comes to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday. $50-$70. (800) 826-9303. vanwezel.org. Also at the Lakeland Center Youkey Theatre, 701 W Lime St., Lakeland, at 7:30 p.m. Monday. $36-$44. (863) 834-8111.

Aziz Ansari

Stats: Age 31. Started at open mic nights as a college student. Got super famous in 2009 when he was cast as Tom Haverford, the bug-eyed wannabe nightclub impresario on NBC's Parks and Recreation. Catchphrase, "Treat yo self!" has been uttered at countless birthday parties across America. Beloved by millennials. Streamed his second standup special for $5 through his website.

Style: Like your hyperactive nerdy friend with no idea he's a nerd. Jokes come from his life experiences, like trying to talk to rude girls or playing Halo with his little cousin. He's smartly observational about people's weird habits, yet impressed by so much. Like the time he overheard rapper 50 Cent ask why grapefruit soda wasn't purple.

Dirty fighting: Medium cursing, not so much as to be distracting.

Weakness: Full of current pop culture references. Ansari has his finger on the pulse, so be sure you do, too.

Knockout joke: "I heard this guy going around talking about how he was this big rap producer, and he was just going around and boasting and bragging. And in one of those bragging sessions, I heard him just tell somebody, 'Hey, hey — why don't you try making four beats a day for two summers?' What a dangerously specific challenge that is."

Show: Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance tour comes Sunday to the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S. in St. Petersburg. There are shows at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., but the first show is sold out. $38. (727) 892-5767, themahaffey.com.

Joan Rivers

Stats: Age 80. Show business legend with a career spanning more than 50 years. Guest host for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. Appeared on Celebrity Apprentice and Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?. Had second coming as a red carpet fashion commentator and can still be seen on E!'s Fashion Police and In Bed With Joan on YouTube. Has more than 2 million Twitter followers.

Style: Can we talk? Fast and raspy, talks over her own jokes, has been known to take questions from the audience and can respond with a crack on a dime. Dishes on her aging body and bazooms, ("I can now get a pedicure and a mammogram at the same time"), her gay fans, men, love, her family and childhood.

Dirty fighting: Salty! Rivers loves f-bombs and embarrassing the front row.

Weakness: If jokes come off a little old-fashioned, she has been telling some of them for years.

Knockout joke: "My parents hated me, okay? . . . All I ever heard growing up was 'Why can't you be like your cousin Sheila? What can't you be like your cousin Sheila?' Sheila had died at birth."

Show: Joan Rivers comes to the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St. in Clearwater, at 7:30 p.m. Friday. $65-85. (727) 791-7400, rutheckerdhall.com.

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