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Monday, March 7, 2011

Aries Spears' Equal Opportunity Derision Finds Its Target at Cobb's -- with One Exception

Posted By on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 7:30 AM

"I work out two days a week then take four months off."
  • "I work out two days a week then take four months off."

Aries Spears is a virtuoso of the impersonation, his voice box a rental unit for any character worth parodying. He first came on the national scene as a cast member on Fox's sketch comedy show MadTV, and then reminded the internet who we was in this Live 105 appearance a few years back, karaoke-izing some of the rap game's finest.

He's also quite adept at mimicking accents from all over the world and sending up certain celebrity Governators and other public figures, as he demonstrated during his appearance over the weekend at Cobb's Comedy Club. No group is spared; Spears takes equal opportunity riffing on black people, white people, Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, Brits, Arabs, Native Americans, Africans, Mexicans, and, like any good comic, himself.

Race is still relevant, he insisted throughout the night, largely to cheers and laughs.

So why then, after a very winning 45 minutes or so of Charlie Sheen-less comedy (it is possible, apparently), did his mockery of homosexuals come across as painfully small-minded and unfunny? Even after he hedged and told us he does believe that gays should be entitled to the same rights as everyone else and professed his respect for their cause, a five-minute rant on how "unnatural" male-on-male sex seems to Spears came across as remarkably taboo.

  • Chris Trenchard

Admittedly, he says this comes from his own "ignorance," that despite being surrounded by a melting pot of friends, gays aren't among them, so he just doesn't know the, um, ins and outs. But his curiosity got him in even more trouble as he polled the audience to find out who was gay, and put one such person on the spot with sex-life-related questions.

"Bring on the angry letters," he said, realizing he may have picked the wrong battle in San Francisco.

But maybe it was us. Perhaps we're so caught up with the politically correct narrative in S.F. that we can't take the issue lightly when such subjects come up. Perhaps this is our last sacred cow, the last frontier of comfortable stereotyping. Or, again, maybe jokes about butt sex and how it relates to gay people's posture just aren't that clever.

But, to be sure, much of what we heard came from a place of sharp wit and smooth -- ahem, smoov -- delivery. Spears casually sipped his Patron on the rocks while leaning on his mic stand like he would a close friend.

Jolly would be the word for his build, as if Ma$e and Notorious B.I.G. had spurned the laws of nature and bred through the back door.

"I work out two days a week then take four months off," he joked, or, possibly, stated as fact, adding that given the choice between sex and a cupcake, he might go with the cupcake.

Other than the aforementioned audience member encounter, Spears worked the crowd with cunning charm. He approached a few mixed-race couples before dealing this zinger: "I wear black -- the ladies know why -- it makes you look skinnier. I think that's why you see so many big white girls with black guys."

Spears' best-received bit of the night was his impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger, more of an ode to child-of-the-'80s hero than a harpooning. His impersonation of Arnold's Predator character, which also happened to be basically every other character the Arnold ever played, Spears noted, had Cobb's in stitches.

Opening act:

Dennis Gaxiola hails from these parts and knows San Francisco to be one of the places where a huge event will be topped by an everyday occurrence. Example: Thousands of people were gathering at Fisherman's Wharf one year to watch the Blue Angels fly planes through bridges and perform other utterly astonishing feats during Fleet Week. "But then there she was, 6'6", stiletto heels, walking down the street..."

Age and time weigh heavy on Gaxiola's mind. He's afraid to sleep for fear of pulling another muscle while sleeping, and he's now been married 21 years. "Three wives," he explained, tongue presumably in cheek. He plays with expectations deftly, and we learned to take the Gaxiola statement with pounds of salt.

He won over the women in the crowd for a second saying "everybody's got a trophy wife. But not everyone's got a first place trophy." Some, he says, just get a plaque, or participation medals.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF

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Chris Trenchard


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