Material matters: Loni Love’s fun personality can’t elevate her tired jokes

Jason Harris

Two stars

Loni Love August 15, Venetian.

If likability is 50 percent of what makes a comedian great, Loni Love is halfway there before she sets foot onstage. If writing and telling well-crafted, intelligent jokes is the other 50 percent, however, Love is still only halfway there.

That might sound harsh, but consider this: Within the first five minutes of Love’s Saturday-night set at the Venetian, she engaged the crowd with this played-out call and response technique, “Where my black people at?” Black people clap in obligatory fashion. “Fried-chicken-eating asses ...” This was followed by the bombshells that Hispanics enjoy tacos and white people love mayonnaise!

That’s Page 1 of the Urban Comedy Playbook, and more of the same followed on other subjects. On her being plus-size: “I just want skinny people to leave fat people alone. ‘You gonna eat all of that?’ Yes, I am. And when I finish I’m gonna eat yours, too.”

From there it was Paula Dean loves butter, Caitlyn confuses me because she looks like a woman but sounds like a man and Donald Trump is orange and has bad hair.

The frustrating part isn’t that Love is taking on so many familiar subjects, but that she has nothing to say about them. Love can get away with putting on kid gloves before she throws punches on the assorted talk and clip shows from which most people know her. But onstage, there needs to be more honesty and craftsmanship.

Not that Love didn’t have opportunities. She mentioned that she grew up without a father, and the man who played Cliff Huxtable was her TV surrogate. This would have been a perfect time to explain how Bill Cosby’s troubles have confused and disappointed her, learning things she doesn’t want to know about her fictional father figure. What is it like to see the person you most admire fall so far? Instead, she called him “Pill Cosby.”

During one joke, Love proved she could do more. On Mary Magdalene and everybody pointing out she was a prostitute: “When Christ was on that cross, who was the only person there? We couldn’t find Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It was Mary Magdalene. Who went to the tomb for three days? Not the boys. It was Mary Magdalene. So she may have been a ho, but she was the first ride-or-die ho.”

It was just too little, too late.

  • The singer-songwriter, who performs three shows at Encore Theater, hasn’t played a concert here since 2010.

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