Monday, August 2, 2010

The End of an ERA...

Three years ago, I discovered that one of the funniest comedians I ever saw was regularly hosting a Wednesday night open mic at Jokes & Notes Comedy Club in Bronzeville - LIL REL. I was ecstatic because I couldn't remember his name, and then one day I discovered him on YouTube and from there, my friend Catherine and I became regulars at the southside laugh spot.

The cool thing about Lil Rel is he is a regular dude. He could quite easily have been any number of guys I went to high school with. You know that goofy dude that everybody is cool with and can make anyone laugh. (Maybe I'm the only one who went to school with real funny guys). But the more Cathy and I went to Jokes & Notes, the more I realized my initial impression of him some years earlier was right. He may be a regular guy, but he has an extraordinary talent. It takes God-given talent to make people laugh until their stomachs hurt. To make people feel as if they can't breathe. Undoubtedly, Lil Rel has that talent, and many a "What Dat Do Wednesdays," we got an amazing treat - the gift of undeniable laughter.

So it was with a heavy dose of nostalgia, that we went to Jokes & Notes on Saturday. Just that, in and of itself was telling. He stared off hosting Wednesday's open mic night. He moved up to hosting the weekend with the national acts, and quickly people realized he was funnier than most of the heavyweights who were being flown in for laughs at $20/head, seemingly a long way from the $5 Wednesday nights.

From the moment he stepped on the stage, I knew it would be EPIC! He did not disappoint and when I left, my head was pounding from the constant laughter. I cried laughing throughout each of his sets. It was a full night. Three national acts, with George Wilborn from the Michael Baisdon radio show headlining. However, Rel stood out so much that George Wilborn took it personally. He felt challenged and stated to that effect. A lot of people don't know this, but Rel's does some of the best character comedy I have ever seen. Some people have seen him doing the hoodrats, Mr. Godfrey, Jamo, etc. But, you haven't lived until you have seen him impersonate Lil Wayne, Gucci, Scarface, Crucial Conflict, Do-or-Die and Drake all in the same song. It was absolute GENIUS! I was able to capture bits of it on my phone, but this was one of those times, I wish they had captured this on video, it was that GREAT!

Of course, his sets wouldn't have been right without a little hoodrat done in there. His execution was flawless. Way better than any prior bits he's done on Def Comedy Jam or Bad Boys of Comedy. He has mastered the art of the entire scenario with the rat. He did a bit of a hoodrat belittling a girl having a trunk party before going away to college, compared to them having baby showers! At that point I couldn't breathe. He even mastered the old slick guy that works at the ghetto clothing spot where they like to shop. I certainly hope that he starts touring more, because he has to share these gems with the world.

His last show on Saturday, July 31st marked the end of four years hosting at Jokes & Notes, and it was bittersweet to have something so good taken away from our monthly routine. So as he moves on to bigger and better things, go out and support our boy from the westside of Chicago. I promise, you are going to laugh until you can't laugh anymore. Congratulations Rel!