Mike Epps kept it fun and totally crude in his debut Middle East gig. The 46-year-old American stand-up comic and actor hit the Al Raha Beach Theatre – which was three quarters packed – to a bawdy set ranging from old fashioned comic chestnuts such as relationships to more spirited socially conscious material.
In a nod to the violent race demonstrations that occurred in Charlottesville last week, Epps wearily declared that “it’s good to be the hell up out of there.”
While Epps has plenty of material, his defining quality is his delivery which is both jittery and conversational. It is as if Epps is excitedly telling you a fun anecdote over dinner. Unfortunately, he seemed to rush through a lot of his material. While it kept the show rolling along, Epps seemed to be in hurry to move into the next pun and in turn, leaving some promising material undercooked.
One example was the bit about his failed television sitcom Uncle Buck. Epps sets it up to be a broader discussion on the fleeting nature of show business only to deliver a mediocre punch line about how the news scuppered his chances of buying a dream car.
Also, despite some providing memorably funny characters of his family members, his observations about “growing up in the hood” were more facile than revelatory.
Despite some of the well-worn material, Epps seemed genuinely excited to be performing in Abu Dhabi and for most of the show his enthusiasm was infectious.