Scoring the perfect comic mix on a single bill is a bit art and a bit magic. Tampa Bay is getting a lot of practice these days.
We're fresh off the Funny or Die Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival, which brought the likes of Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari through town. The punch lines will continue this weekend with Wild 94.1's Shut Up and Laugh, which comes to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Friday with a smaller but still strong lineup of jesters.
Mike Epps headlines the three-comic roster. Film fans know him from hits like The Hangover and stinkers like Sparkle, but lately he has been in talks to star in a Richard Pryor biopic. His comedy is brash, raunchy sex talk delivered with a signature husk and megawatt grin. Listen for any nods to tabloid drama, from Epps' beef with Kevin Hart to his alleged brawl with comic Lavar Walker.
Epps joins Michael Che, a marvelously dry jokester who manages to be wholly self-depreciating and wise to the world at the same time. The New Yorker recently landed a correspondent gig on the Daily Show With Jon Stewart, where he delivered a painfully straightforward report from "Syria" that left Stewart agape.
Jo Koy, who built his stock telling meandering, animated stories about his family, especially his young son and his Filipino mom, rounds out the cast. Still not sold? Here's a sample joke from each comedian to get you in the mood.
"I couldn't find a job and hold one. I'm the type of dude that will call in on Friday and still come get my check. 'Yeah, I was sick this morning. I got better around 3:30. Where the checks at?' "
"You ever listen to Biggie's Juicy? It's like the greatest song of inspiration ever, you know? It's weird, though. It's not the same song as when I heard it when I was like, 12. Cause there's a line in there when he goes, 'Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, when I was dead broke, man, I couldn't picture this.' That's like $300 worth of merchandise. It's not a lot of money, man. I've been dead broke my whole life and I've had a Sega Genesis. I didn't have a Super Nintendo, but I could picture it."
"Here's the weird thing about my mom. She's been living in this country for 37 years and her accent got thicker. How does that happen?"
Contact Stephanie Hayes at email@example.com or (727) 893-8716. Follow @stephhayes.