Rodney Carrington keeps the laughter rolling
Rodney Carrington has been coming to Las Vegas during Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for nearly 20 years. The heartland humorist has a love-hate relationship with the city: he loves performing for the rodeo fans who catch his show every year, but sometimes hated himself a little while taking stock of his recreational activities after his annual 10-day run. “Every time I leave there, I feel like I need to sit near the fireplace in a Christmas sweater and read a children’s book,” he says in a bit captured for his 2014 Netflix special Laughter’s Good.
Carrington’s decadent behavior shifted to food in recent years, though. He’s always been husky, but daily jogs had yet to run off the results of a post-divorce cake dependency by the time he recorded his latest Netflix special, Here Comes the Truth, before a hometown audience in Tulsa, Okla., earlier this year. “Do not adjust your glasses,” he says to the fans at BOK Center for the special’s recording. “I’m this g-----n fat, alright?” Carrington reveals he can no longer reach his feet with his hands, and in a bit of physical comedy demonstrates in his trademark raunchy style how a man can tell if his belly’s gotten too big.
Gaining weight, sex and sex organs, childbirth, the perils of pornography and Toby Keith are just some of the subjects Carrington mines for laughs in Here Comes the Truth. While his gait as he paces onstage in the special was affected by his expanded girth, he delivers his comedy with the effectiveness of a top-ranked boxer revving up the crowd and ends with a 20-minute set on acoustic guitar that includes songs about his favorite body parts, beer and the pleasure and pitfalls of dancing with a partner with no legs.
Carrington’s humor seems to come from a place all its own, although he wouldn’t be out of place sitting in with the boys from The Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Growing up, he liked the madcap humor of Jonathan Winters and insult comedy of Don Rickles. Sam Kinison’s no-boundaries style would be a later influence, and Steve Harvey was one of his early mentors. By the early ’90s, he was paying his dues on the road, living out of a pickup and loving every minute. In 1998, he released his first comedy album, Hangin’ with Rodney, following it up with a series of releases that were each more successful than the previous one until Laughter’s Good hit No. 1 on the comedy charts.
Vegas audiences might be seeing a leaner Rodney Carrington due to the daily 4-mile jogs that have become his habit. Carrington settled permanently in Tulsa after living in L.A. while starring in ABC’s Rodney. There’s less cake nowadays. More time on golf greens and with friends make up for the solitude that came after his kids moved out on their own. His comedy remains as blunt and uncompromising as ever, though—he can still pick out a tune on guitar and sing lyrics that would make members of the congregation at his ex-wife’s church blush.
MGM Grand, 10 p.m. through Dec. 16, starting at $59.99 plus tax and fee. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster