April 11, 2011
Continuing a lifelong love of evoking laughter that has elicited smiles from the likes of Yao Ming(notes) and Craig Sager, Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest(notes) announced via Twitter on Friday afternoon that he will be hosting a comedy tour this summer. This is great, because it gives us all something to look forward to over the next couple of months, when nothing of real consequence is scheduled to happen or command our attention. (Oh. Right.)
The cleverly named "Ron Artest: The Ultimate Comedy Tour" has only two stops scheduled at the moment — a pair of two-night, four-show July stands at Caroline's on Broadway in Artest's hometown of New York and the Brea Improv in Brea, Calif., about 40 minutes outside Los Angeles. Tickets for the New York shows, scheduled for July 15-16, will run you $41 apiece, while the end-of-the-month Brea gigs are going for $30 each.
No performers have yet been named, but since the description on the Caroline's site says the shows will feature "the country's best comedians and special guests," it's pretty safe to assume you'll be seeing a lot of Mark Curry. You remember him, right? Mr. Cooper? Oh, never mind.
It's not clear as yet whether Artest will simply be hosting the shows or if he'll elect to perform at them. The nature of his involvement isn't explicitly stated in the shows' descriptions, but the Queensbridge native choosing to try his hand on stage is noted as a possibility by Sean L. McCarthy of the fantastic comedy blog The Comic's Comic.
One potential path noted by J.E. Skeets of The Basketball Jones could be for Artest to read/perform some of his tweets, an idea that has some on-stage precedent at events like "A Night of 140 Tweets" and in the "tweet-off" segment of Comedy Central's "The Benson Interruption." That could work — Artest's brand of nonsense plays pretty well in 140-character bitlets — and, as Skeets noted, it's likely to be safer and more interesting than whatever Charlie Sheen's doing on his traveling creepshow.
Like that festival of sadness, though, this could also, of course, be very weird and not great. Whenever someone gets on stage, grabs a mic and faces an audience in a live setting, there's always the chance for something dicey to happen — your material or stage patter might not work, the crowd might get a little too loud, or drunk, or both, the heckling could get a little too hectic, etc.
And when someone who's not an experienced stand-up well-versed in shutting down a heckler and getting back to the business of entertaining has to deal with those sorts of situations, the results can be disastrous and unpredictable. Let's all be glad that the 31-year-old, calmed-down, mental-health-advocate version of Artest doesn't have nearly the same makeup/issues with crowds as his 25-year-old antecedent.
Given the way an audience can turn if they're not getting what they wanted, it's probably good that Ron recently spent some time honing his crowdwork skills on Twitter:
Granted, they're not exactly "I don't come down to where you work and knock the broom out of your hand," but hey, what is? That one's a classic.