|Cenac delivers unique show at Weill Hall
With an arsenal of hilarious political, silly, yet impressively thought-provoking and intellectual jokes, comedian Wyatt Cenac on Feb. 15 delivered a show at Weill Hall unlike anything the Sonoma State Green Music Center, still in its infancy, has ever seen before.
Cenac is a part-time writer, part-time actor and full-time funnyman best known for his hand in writing shows like the adult-oriented cartoon “King of the Hill” and the parody newsroom “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” of which he also appeared as a regular co-host alongside fellow writer John Oliver and Stewart himself. Recently, Cenac left the staff of “The Daily Show” after a near four-year run to pursue an independent career in stand-up and comedy.
If his performance at the GMC was anything to preview that new career, we can expect great success for Cenac’s future.
Cenac’s show was perhaps the most casual and relaxed of any put on at Weill Hall; the usual tightly dressed, champagne-holding audience members were replaced with a more subtle audience, both in appearance and in size. The hall itself was free of carefully placed fake snow, fire heaters or blinding spotlights as has been seen in past shows, like when Yo-Yo Ma visited last month.
Instead, the stage was empty with the exception of two stools and a microphone and the lighting a simple, icy blue glow. When Cenac stepped out on stage, a single spotlight did follow him, but a soft, unintimidating one that focused the audience into a casual and intimate atmosphere that lasted the entirety of the show.
Opening for Cenac was Natasha Muse, who promised the audience she was reportedly the funniest transsexual in all San Francisco. It was hard to disagree with her; Muse had a lively, if not occasionally awkward personality that was easily swallowed and refreshingly funny. She had a beautiful talent of directing your attention away from yourself as she told fun and cute anecdotes about herself, like telling the audience, “I used to be a boy, but then I got better.”
By the time Muse had finished giving her set, the audience was a sea of smiles and flushed faces, perhaps blushing from the close encounter with some of Muse’s more bodily jokes. Muse bowed, thanked the audience and introduced Cenac to the stage.
Cenac knew the perfect way to reel in his viewers and kick off his show: relate to the audience. With a few short jokes about San Francisco and the Wine Country, Cenac was able to gracefully capture and walk you through the entirety of his performance with your full attention and clutching at your sides in laughter.
Nothing about Cenac’s act seemed sloppy or half-baked, yet nor did it seem planned and structured. With his casual air, tight smirks and brief moments of silence as a form of transition between jokes, you could have fooled yourself into believing Cenac was giving you his stand-up over a friendly dinner instead of at a grand performance hall.
What was most impressive about Cenac’s brand of comedy, though, was his practiced ability to strut along the edge of controversial and offensive without falling over headfirst. Cenac’s smooth, shrugged jokes had a way of turning the gears of your head and leaving you in stitches, like his comparison of the confederacy to that of Batman’s number-one villain, The Joker.
That was perhaps the charm of Cenac’s humor; his ability to relate the complex and uncomfortable with the familiar and likable. He was able to successfully talk about perhaps should-be controversial issues, like politics, the economy and lifestyles and deliver them in unthreatening, even silly packages that you could easily relate to and laugh at.
Cenac’s stand-up show was a refreshingly fun and lively event that left audiences grinning like idiots and probably still cracking up days later. To find out more about the Green Music Center or how you can get tickets to the next event, you can go online to gms.sonoma.edu.