Chris Tucker‘s 90-minute stand-up set Friday at Austin’s Bass Concert Hall – one of his first comedy dates since re-launching his career in 2011 and his first in the United States this year – showcased exactly why he became such a hit comedy actor in his “Rush Hour” movies from 1998 to 2007. Even though Chis Tucker performed to a sold-out audience, he chose to front-load his set with jokes relating to his wealth and tax troubles. It has been reported that he owed almost $12 million to the IRS. By poking fun at himself, he cleverly blew up the barrier between the audience and himself as a formerly rich movie star and create a more relatable persona.
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Beyond the IRS and financial shtick, Chris Tucker deepened his bond with the audience with colorful, relatable stories about his childhood. Through vivid physical comedy, Tucker instantly transformed himself into his precocious childhood self, his brother, his melodramatic uncle “John”, his take-no-prisoners mother and other relatives, swiftly switching personas through an impeccable shift of body language and vocal transformation.
Most impressive was how Tucker transformed into Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson. He is genuinely skilled at impersonations and his exaggerated imitation of the president Clinton’s mannerisms, walk, and talk drew some great laughs from the audience. Tucker easily slipped into the voice of Michael Jackson, and did an excellent impersonation of Jackson singing and dancing, reminiscing about their times together in Neverland, singing with Barry Gibbs, and a funny car ride where Michael broke out into 50 Cent’s sexually crude, bass-thumping ‘In Da Club.’
Regardless of what happens next in both his movie and stand-up career, it’s evident that Chris Tucker is a funny man worthy of being on stage and on screen.
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