Bay Street’s Comedy Club continues tonight, Monday July 23, with the scandalous humor of the versatile Orlando Jones. The actor, TV pitch man and raunchy comic takes the stage at 8 p.m. for what is sure to be a riotous set of taboo violating fun.
Jones began his Hollywood career as a writer on NBC’s “A Different World,” Fox’s “Martin” and writing/producing Fox’s “Roc Live” starring Charles Dutton. Jones later combined his writing and acting talents on Fox’s “Mad TV.” On Broadway he was in the revival of The Wiz and in Los Angeles he performed in August Wilson’s Fences.
Some of Jones’ most popular films include The Replacements and Drumline. Jones has also been a staple on television as a guest star. He has recently been seen on Fox’s hit series “House” and “Necessary Roughness” on the USA network. Other television appearances include “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Pushing Daisies,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Ghost Whisperer” and “Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘N Out” on MTV.
If you don’t know Jones from this wide exposure, perhaps you remember his turn in the 90s cult favorite Office Space, in which he played an out-of-work computer engineer posing as an ex-drug addict selling magazines for an anti-addiction charity. Jones’ willingness to parody ghetto stereotypes made him a standout even in that masterpiece of anti-corporate cynicism.
Indeed, even a cursory examination of Jones’ stand-up routines reveals that his comedy is nourished on bold transgression, taking cues from the continuing coarsening of pop culture. For example, it’s always been funny to take the inane or scandalous lyrics of pop songs out of context – many comedians have tread this ground before. The only difference now is that some pop songs’ lyrics have started to describe activities that were once the sole province of porn. Reciting these lyrics in front of an audience, perhaps especially a well-heeled Bay Street crowd, takes a lot of guts. Orlando Jones goes there.
Perhaps now would be a good time to mention that you must be 18 years or older to be admitted to Orlando Jones’ show at Bay Street.
With all of his transgressive comedy work, Jones has found himself at the center of controversy on occasion. After he posted a joke on Twitter about what liberals should do to a certain vice-presidential candidate from Alaska, some accused Jones of violent rhetoric and a cavalier attitude toward gun violence. Jones, however, made it clear that he feels jokes, whether in good taste or bad, should be protected speech. In fact, he was interviewed prominently in Looking for Lenny, the 2011 documentary about legendary comedian and free-speech icon Lenny Bruce. In the film, Jones discussed earlier, ground-breaking struggles to allow comedians to say what they want.
Jones didn’t start his career as a comedian, and in fact began largely behind the scenes, producing commercials. Perhaps this experience led him to the role that etched his face on the public imagination: that of the funny TV pitch-man for 7 Up – the guy who told viewers to “Make 7 Up Yours.”
A multi-talented actor, Jones has branched out from comedy in recent years to take on roles in dramatic films such as Barry Levinson’s critically acclaimed Liberty Heights, in the horror film From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter and Ivan Reitman’s sci-fi Evolution.
The Comedy Club at Bay Street Theatre will continue in coming weeks with Robert Klein on August 13, Susie Essman on August 20 and Jim Breuer on August 27. These shows are a fantastic opportunity to see some very funny people in a great, intimate setting. Tickets are $60 for members and $67 nonmembers. Visit the website at www.baystreet.org or call the Bay Street box office at 631-725-9500 for all tickets.