The manic, diminutive comedian performed to a crowd of 4,070 at the University of South Florida's Sun Dome in Tampa Saturday night.
Willliams' best moments had him commanding the stage and showing off his knack for flailing like a mad man with exaggerated, animated gestures and other spasms of physical comedy — like his cartoonish imitation of basketball player Dikembe Motumbo blocking shots in a Geico commercial.
He confessed his love of "redneck" TV shows like Swamp People and
riffed on his rap sheet, saying he was charged with 36 offenses. He questioned if the cops started to make up charges to add to the ridiculously long list, and admitted to doing time in a mental health facility, re-enacting the loopy side effects of Seroquel.
The comedian's stubborn insistence that he isn't homophobic while defending his less politically correct beliefs about gays and atheists weighed down his act. A joke about NFL's first gay quarterback was a lame cliche and even beneath him at his low-to-the-ground stature.
The crowd related more to his rant about corrupt leaders and law enforcement — "cops are on some different shit," he said. In a cheeky aside, he made mock-reverential exceptions for the many cops working the show. (The TPD presence on campus was unusually heavy, which added some strange tension to the event.)
Williams' act ended abruptly on a pubic hair joke that was more gross than funny. I wondered if he ended the show early because his joke bombed, but, then gain, abruptness in any sense isn't out of character for the outspoken comic.
While he had started out strong and had some truly clever moments, Williams lacked his usual sharpness and knack for descriptive storytelling. He needs something new to fire him up that isn't in powder or amphetamine form.
T hree strong openers — Richie Redding, Ashima Franklin and Red Grant — did an admirable job of warming up the crowd and didn't overstay their welcome.
Redding served as the pre-show emcee, performing between acts. He won the crowd over with a joke about cassette tapes and that awful moment you have to wheel the ribbon back in with a pencil.
Red Grant was bouncy and offered broad humor, emasculating T.I. and mimicking the rapper dancing with Robin Thicke in the "Blurred Lines" video. He also elicited some fun audience participation. Franklin was bluer than them all and the funniest of the night (yes, funnier than Williams too), spouting off about her camel toe and awkward cell phone selfies during sex chats.
After a slew of embarrassing arrests, outbursts, fights and bizarre confrontations, Katt Williams is back on the road with his Growth Spurts tour to show fans that he's a survivor and he's still got it.