Reviews of Penn & Teller at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, FL on 1/31/2013 and the Orlando Comedy Festival at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center in Orlando, FL on 2/1/2013.

Penn & Teller ticket.
I’ve seen Penn & Teller (P&T) live once before at the same venue almost exactly 2 years ago. With that much time having passed, I was under the impression that the show would be different but there were only a few new acts. Almost everything else was the same (except where I was sitting). I got my ticket at the box office a few days before the show to avoid Ticketmaster fees. On the same day, I swung by the Amway Center box office to get a ticket for the festival. I was already out running errands so I figured I’d take care of them both. The Festival was originally called the Orlando Comedy Jam which was more appropriate because having festival in the name implies that it’s something big. It was just a regular show with some stand-up comedians. When buying that ticket, the cashier said there was a second show right after the first one because the first one was damn near sold out. I chose the first show because I didn’t wanna be out too late. We’re all getting older, ain’t we?

All they had left were balcony seats. I knew a long time ago I wanted to go to the show but didn’t buy my ticket in advance. Not that I had a bad seat, center balcony, but I really wanted to sit in the orchestra. I was happy with my ticket for the Festival. For P&T, there were very limited seats available. The cashier told me 2nd row center came open that same day. SOLD! For my new readers, you’re probably asking yourself why I only bought one ticket. That’s just how I roll most times and to be honest, I just wanted some me time after spending the better part of the previous week working with other people. I wasn’t trying to meet anyone new, wasn’t trying to score chicks, I just wanted to go out by myself and have a good time and dammit, that’s exactly what I had on both nights.

Universal Studios ain’t far from my house so I walked to the Hard Rock. One hour each way taking my sweet time. 5 miles in total. It was some good and welcome exercise. And being chilly that night, it helped. I don’t like walking for exercise when it’s warm or hot. I arrived just before showtime and the security line didn’t take long to get through for a change. The show didn’t start right on time so I had time to surf on my phone. My 4G was working great. The seat next to me was empty so whoever the couple is that gave up those seats, thanks. That gave me room to spread my legs. Being one of the few black people in attendance, and sitting right up front, and being by myself, I got a lot of stares as if I was someone famous. The usher treated me like gold so it was a good experience.

The air temperature inside was just right. My only complaint was the sound quality. When Penn spoke, he didn’t resonate well where I was seated. It was almost as if his mic was off. I still heard everything clearly, just not as clearly as I feel it should’ve been. As I said before, the acts weren’t much different than the last time I saw them. It started with a few new things, like the ‘escape from the helium-filled garbage bag’ and the ‘cell phone inside the fish’ tricks but I realized quickly that I was seeing the same show as before, just with different audience members. I’d say the tricks from the last show were better. What was missing this time was the levitation trick, the ‘torn-to-pieces newspaper made whole again’ trick, and the knife throwing.

During the rings trick (a new one), Penn was borderline molesting the chick pulled from the audience with all the touching and brushing her hair to the side. I can only imagine the boyfriend wasn’t too pleased because there’s nothing he could do about it. Just the thought of his potential jealousy was funny and that may be by design, I suspect. Some repeat tricks were the ‘suddenly appearing goldfish in the water tank’ trick, the ‘bleeding flower’ trick, the mentalist trick, the ‘cigarette sleight of hand’ trick, needle swallowing, the ‘video camera’ trick, and fire swallowing. During the cigarette trick, they weren’t smoking real cigarettes. I think they were electronic cigarettes. At the end, when they say cigarettes make you look cool, I don’t think those were real either. They burned like real ones but it wasn’t the same smell as real cigarettes. I’d know because that shit makes me nauseous and I was just fine being so close to them.

For obvious reasons, I can’t get too in-depth about the show because a lot of it deals with magic and how it’s done. I don’t wanna ruin your sense of wonder when P&T will do that for you by deconstructing everything that they do onstage. I recommend seeing them live whenever you get the chance and I want you to be surprised by what you see. It’s worth it. The show was kind of short, not even an hour and a half, and most of it was what I’ve already seen so, for me, I can’t say I got my money’s worth. I was fully expecting a totally new show. It’s been 2 years after all. I know they have more up their sleeves but I assume they save that for the Vegas show and do what they do on the road mainly to attract newer fans. It couldn’t be for fans who’ve seen them before because they’ll be disappointed like I was. It was a good time but not as good of a time as I wanted to experience.

You can’t beat where I was seated but if you have neck problems, don’t sit so close because you have to look up at them onstage and that’s an unnatural neck position to be in for that length of time. Like the Festival, there is no intermission. If you’ve never seen them live before, then go see them. It’s a fun and interactive show and you never know, you could literally be a part of it somehow. If you wanna be onstage, you probably wanna get seats closer to it. Just like last time, when the show was done, they ran offstage to be outside to take pics with fans. There’s mild vulgarity during the show but Penn’s vocabulary is so damn big that most of what he says would probably fly over a child’s head. They’d enjoy the visual but not the verbal aspects of the show. If you’re an adult idiot, same applies to you, too.

During the cell phone trick, they encouraged people to turn their cell phones on. Part of that was for the act. The other part was them being sarcastic. Believe it or not, other than the phone being used during the act, not one person’s cell phone rang during the show that I could hear. Now that’s magic! There were way too many people wanting to get a pic with them after the show but it was cold outside and I had a long walk home. I didn’t stick around. The next evening was the Festival. It was chilly out for that too but not as much as it was for P&T. I parked at the Sheraton for free. There was one pedicab driver out that I saw. Not sure if he was making money or not but the joint was sold out. If it was just him, hopefully he did good. I arrived at the Bob Carr about 20 minutes before the show started. Once again, 4G was working so I have to assume Sprint has been working on improving coverage because in the past, the shit was spotty as hell inside certain facilities.

Orlando Comedy Festival ticket.
With black comedy events, or any black event for that matter, music plays a big part. The deejay usually gets things rocking beforehand but that didn’t happen this time. So much for the festival part. Dominique Witten (I had to search online for her last name) was the emcee. Never seen or heard of her before but she was funny. She makes no secret about the fact that she’s a pothead because a lot of her material is about smoking weed. I don’t generally care to hear about people’s recreational vices, particularly from those that are overweight like she is, but she made it funny and didn’t harp on it for too long. Contrary to popular belief, everyone doesn’t smoke weed. When you hear someone say that shit, it’s because everyone that THEY know smokes weed or does whatever else. It’s a sign that they might wanna work on getting higher quality people in their life, if that’s even possible. Guilty by association. It’s a true statement.

I like the way she talks. I love me some cussing, ebonics-speaking black women. It’s a total turn on. I don’t like the yelling, repetitive-speaking black women that Arnez J mocked. I see enough of them on Cheaters. Dominique (she never said or went by her last name at any point during the show) wasn’t cussing on a Mo’Nique level but it was appropriate for her material. Bruce Bruce was after her. Unlike P&T who presented a lot of the same material for their show, I saw Bruce Bruce just over a year ago and this time he did a lot of new material. I disagree with what he said about women keeping some grass around the landing strip. Ladies, you better shave that shit! Funniest thing he said was about a chick who had bad central vision but her peripheral vision was good so she had to drive with her head turned sideways. That shit tore me up. Keep in mind I’ve seen all of the male comedians on ComicView from back in the day but had never seen Arnez J or Earthquake live. All of them talk as if they were extravagant pastors, putting emphasis on the simplest of words, and that makes their routines even funnier. Arnez J does a lot of physical comedy which has always cracked me up.

Arnez is like an episode of Family Guy. He doesn’t discriminate on who or what he makes fun of. I’d say he was the best comedian of the night. Earthquake focused a lot on relationships and gave some good advice, like choosing the right person to have kids with. Whether people picked up on it or not during his routine is unknown. He also talked about being in trouble with the IRS. Whether he really does have tax problems or really does have baby mama drama, who knows. But he incorporated both topics well to make them funny. From top to bottom, it was a good ticket and well worth the money. As always, trying to leave the Bob Carr when a show is done is like trying to navigate I-4 during rush hour in the rain with an accident on the highway. People just move so slowly because there aren’t enough exits in that old ass auditorium.

I’d be out of that place in less than 30 seconds if not for people seemingly rubbernecking at the carpet and wallpaper. Move your asses! I walk the same way that I drive: with purpose! Once outside, there was that convergence of people coming in for the second show and people leaving the first one. The show was about 2 hours and naturally I’d recommend shows like this with this much talent under one roof. The sound quality was good. Air temperature just right. No one farted that I know of because I didn’t smell any funk. Little to no heckling. Very minimal talking amongst people around me. The Festival audience was lit up with cell phones quite a bit, though.

They discouraged cameras at P&T (I didn’t bring mine with me) but you could bring your camera with you to the Festival (obviously I did) yet they discouraged recording as Dominique and Arnez humorously worked a warning into their routines to accompany the warning by the announcer at the start of the show. If you sit right next to the stage, it’s gonna be pretty obvious what you’re doing. I used the viewfinder on my camera so that the screen didn’t light up and bring any unwanted attention to me. I present my video to introduce the performers to a wider audience and if they get new fans out of it, they make more money. You’re welcome. For those of you that don’t know, the discouragement is there because too many people recording (likely with a cell phone) distracts from the enjoyment of the show for people in the audience. It’s just like if you’re at the movies and some jackass near you keeps looking at their phone. Same shit.

Where the Festival had a chocolate crowd with light sprinkles of vanilla, P&T had a vanilla crowd with, from what I saw, one chocolate chip (me) on top of the cream cheese cupcake frosting. No one was acting stupid at the Festival but P&T did have what were clearly some drunk people commenting loudly and making happy drunk noises (you know what they sound like) during the show. At one point, they got shushed by what sounded like the whole section they were in as if it was an opera. Damn alcoholics, can’t go out and have fun without drinking. Just like those potheads, right? They just gotta let people know they’re a pothead like it’s cool (it’s not). I don’t associate with either type of person. By the way, no one farted at P&T either. You think it makes no sense for me to mention that but wait until it happens to you when you’re stuck inside some disrespectful son of a bitch’s gas cloud. Then you’ll know why that shit is important to know!

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