At thirty-two years of age, and weighing in at 320 pounds, comedian Kevin McPeek proudly claims that "I've been gaining ten pounds a year since the day I was born." The math may be fuzzy, but McPeek's gargantuosity is the heart and soul of his act. This may not seem like any kind of selling point, but I'm here to tell you that in the hands of this New York City-based comic (and former Monroe resident), it all adds up to some plus-size laughter.
It's hard to get anyone to really talk about what it's like to be fat these days. The people who experience this firsthand every day don't tend to make a lot of jokes at their own expense. And the people who don't experience this firsthand every day tend not to make mention of "issues of size" for fear of lawsuits, firings, humiliation, guilt, shame, and the threat of mandatory sensitivity training at one's place of employment. But McPeek's got nothing to hide — nothing. In fact, early in his act, he introduces to the audience the visual concept of himself naked.
| "And so I'm sitting around my house . . . naked. . . ."
"And so I'm driving downtown . . . naked. . . ."
"And so I'm in the tub . . ."
Which in itself is only moderately funny, although the drunk people in the audience with me thought it was the pinnacle of cleverness to yell out "naked" at the expected times. What's funnier is where McPeek goes from these inviting introductions: musings on phone sex, small cars, childhood, how men and women deal with being sore, and just how a 320-pound man manages in the shower when he drops the soap. He punctuates his act with liberal doses of potty humor, which, in the manner of potty humor, is a lot funnier to the pickled masses than to those of us madly scribbling notes on cocktail napkins in the dark. One woman threatened to steal the show with her bizarre, sighing peals of laughter, much like a seagull on Demerol. I don't think I've ever heard anything quite like that. Maybe it's part of the act.
McPeek's a master at getting his crowd on his side, teaching them his signature asides ("buddy," "pal," "dude") and tossing good-natured insults when deserved. A performance-arty experiment with one young man who had to get up and fake-opera-sing while the audience played air violins didn't come off right, but it was funny anyway. To me, though, the high point of the night came early on, with a recollection of McPeek lying around in his hotel room (you got it, naked) watching a tiny spider circumnavigate his girth and then bite him for no reason, thinking, "I can take him."
Kevin McPeek returns to the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase Thursday through Saturday, November 14-16.