Over the weekend I went to the premiere of the Ron Artest Ultimate Comedy Tour at the Hollywood Improv. Or, rather, the person I was before I saw the Ron Artest Ultimate Comedy Tour did. Because the Ron Artest Ultimate Comedy Tour? It changes people. I’ll try to recreate the whole experience as accurately as possible, but I promise you I will fail.
The audience for the show was unexpectedly sparse, probably because the tickets were 35 dollars plus a two-item minimum. When everyone was seated and the lights went down, Ron was introduced by his “right-hand man,” a person who goes by “S” and looks like a young, unhealthy Lou Gossett, Jr.
S read an introduction off of some notecards that he was obviously seeing for the first time; then Ron joined him onstage, and S asked Ron some questions that had been submitted by the audience. When asked which actor he would have play him in the movie of his life, Ron chose The Game. Ron seemed to be pretty embarrassed by that answer and looked at his feet sheepishly, even as the crowd went completely nuts.
Then Ron excused S from the stage and explained to the audience why he was doing a comedy show. The story basically boils down to this: somebody asked him to do it and he said yes.
The show itself (I did not know this beforehand) was basically just Ron Artest introducing four different standup acts. After the first act was over, Ron told a short and completely untrue story about the time he was pulled over for driving while smoking weed. “I tell the media I don’t smoke,” he said. “But there I was, high as hell.” He mimed putting his hand on a steering wheel and theatrically puffing a joint, then he made siren noises and did the voice of a policeman who arrested him and took him to jail. “Make sure my blunt’s ready when I get out,” he said in the story. That was the punchline. Ultimately, the three most confusing things about the story were A) it wasn’t really crazy enough to be a joke, B) it did not actually happen, and C) it was still the weirdest, funniest story anyone had ever heard, although it was to be surpassed about ten minutes later.
At one point Ron’s phone went off in his pocket. “I’m a black man, so of course my phone’s gonna go off in the middle of a show,” he said, chuckling to himself. At another point he introduced somebody who was not in the show at all, walked off the stage, then bashfully walked back on to introduce the right person.
Nobody was ever not laughing when Ron was talking. He was uncomfortable and giddy and incredibly charming, and he smiled the entire time, except when one of the comics made a disrespectful joke about hos in church. “I do not want my daughters to become whores,” he said afterwards.
By about halfway through the show, everyone had comfortably gotten their money’s worth and was ready to go home and talk about this night forever. But then Ron told a personal story that was…just…let’s go with weird. It was very, very weird.
Here is that story as best I remember it. I wrote it down right after the show, and showed it to a bunch of people who were there, and all parties agree this is very close to what he said minus a lot of swears. Annotations included.
I was eight years old one time (1), and I had my first experience hearing my parents making sex noises. It was like this…(makes sex noises) (2). And so I thought my father was really hitting my mom. My father is a beast. He is a big man.
So I opened the door and saw my mother’s nipple exposed before me (3). And I thought, “Man, that’s a big nipple.” I had never seen a nipple like that before. Or I had, I suppose, because I drank from it. I drank her breast milk as a baby. But then I saw it and I was getting kind of thirsty, so I thought, “Maybe I should drink from my mother’s nipples.” But I didn’t. (4)
I walked up to the bed and pulled the blanket over my mom’s nipples. Then I looked over saw my dad’s taco meat (5). His taco meat was exposed. So I walked over and pulled the blanket over my dad’s taco meat. (6)
There was food everywhere (7), and I saw a frank. And I was hungry. So I grabbed the frank, and I pulled on it (8). And my dad goes “Owwowowow.” Because I had grabbed my dad’s dick.
And he goes, “Don’t be grabbing my dick!” And he punched me. I said, “Don’t punch me! I thought it was a frank. I saw the frank on the bed and I grabbed it.” And he said, “That’s not a frank. That’s my dick!” And he punched me in the head.
And that’s how I got so crazy. (9)
1) Huge laugh from the audience at the phrasing of this. Like everything else, it was impossible to tell whether he meant it as a joke.
2) Ron’s sex noises were very loud deep gulps of air. It was a major departure from any representation of sex I’ve ever heard.
3) An unfortunate thing for you is that you don’t get to hear this story in Ron’s voice. He talks quietly, breathily, and in short bursts, and he emphasizes unexpected syllables. It’s a little Robin Williams, a little Mitch Hedberg, and a lot the asthmatic kid in the wheelchair on Malcolm in the Middle.
4) At this point the room is very quiet except for these little heaves, because everyone has been laughing at full capacity since the beginning of the story and now nobody can breathe anymore.
5) He’s talking about chest hair. I wondered about this for two hours and finally looked it up on Urban Dictionary, but now I’m sort of nostalgic for the time when it was a wonderful mystery what the hell he was talking about.
6) At this point I’m certain I’m not being faithful to his story, because he said “taco meat” at least five times and I can only find room for three times. Ron practices comedy of repetition.
7) He really said this. No explanation provided, ever. He just continued on with his story like nothing was wrong, even though he had just said that his parents had been having sex in a bed where there was food “everywhere.”
8 ) He made a fist and lifted his right arm about five feet across his body to illustrate the frank-pulling.
9) I think I blacked out right after the punchline from being totally overwhelmed by the whole experience. The next thing I remember is waking up in my own bed. I’m not sure how much time had passed, or if any of this actually happened. I hope it did. I truly hope the Ron Artest Ultimate Comedy Tour was real.