Reviewer: Denyse Shannon
Venue: The Temple Theatre
What better way to warm up for opening night of the Saginaw Spirit at the Dow Event Center, than with comedian Kevin James at the Temple Theatre. The 5 p.m. show saw a fairly packed house of fans who know James from his stints as Doug Heffernan in King of Queens, and Kevin Gable in Kevin Can Wait. In fact, a few times during the show attention seeking fans yelled “We love you, Doug!” from the back of the house.
Before Kevin took the stage, though, his Kevin Can Wait compadre, Chris Roach entertained as the warm up act. As much a professional comedian as James, in the 20 minutes he was on stage garnered as many laughs as James did in his full hour. With similar styles, Roach and James drew their routines from their life experiences living in New York, and through lenses that keep them from taking life too seriously.
While they both poked fun at themselves, James had more time to fill. With an hourlong show, James spent the first 30 minutes on a story that encompassed his eating disorder and the love affair he has with food; namely a trip to Wendy’s that came across more like he was cheating on his wife with a lover.
While he wound his way through the tale, from the lies he told his wife and the person at the drive through window, he took pains to keep the story clean. There were a few times during his monologue where it appeared he caught the f-word as it was about to fly, pulling it back into his mouth, and changing adjectives mid-breath.
Despite his description of food flying about the inside of the car as though with were orchestrated by the wizard in Fantasia, about 10 minutes into the sketch was enough to get the gist of the story. He tried to take a humorous look at an addiction, but it was painfully obvious that he was euphorically headed for a food bender.
After the half-hour long account of his clandestine binge, that concluded with another lie to his wife, James turned from fear of not having enough to eat to fear of owls, fear of elderly people, and other fears, including the belt as a child. Though it moved a lot quicker, it seemed to take awkward twists, and turns until he landed on the “when I was growing up,” tack toward the end of the show, which seemed like a recap of a Facebook meme. “I don’t need sanitizer – I drank from the garden hose.” But, with comedic timing, there were so many in the audience who could relate, especially, post pandemic.
Despite the slog through his food addiction at the beginning, James picked up the pace in the second half, giving the audience much of what we expected from the seasoned comedian. Throughout the stand-up routine, I could hear Leah Remini’s voice in the background, or imagine her – from the sitcom King of Queens, rolling her eyes at him, as his TV wife. Though the venue has changed, and he’s on stage by himself, the comedy remains the same; glimpses of everyday life, with a twist.