Who needs John Rosemond?
Step aside, oh venerable parenting author. We’ve got George Lopez and Raising Kids 101.
“Your kids couldn’t last a day in your childhood,” Lopez said to his sold-out audience Saturday night in the Seneca Niagara Events Center.
The crowd laughed and cheered their approval as the 53-year-old comedian, actor and talk-show host launched into a lecture on the art of raising kids – albeit an R-rated one – with his razor tongue planted so firmly in cheek that no amount of soap could scrub out the loads of blue material.
Lopez took aim at ubiquitous bicycle helmets, an overload of testing, and the practice of reading to your kids every night with gradually dimming lights.
He skewered Mr. Moms: “Only white people could sell the concept of the stay-at-home dad,” said Lopez. “When I was growing up, they were called bums.”
Lopez railed on “parenting by pill” and pointed out that every time you take your kid to the doctor, something will be wrong.
“That’s how they make money,” he said, then launched into an imitation of a doctor delivering a diagnosis: “ ‘He has ADD, ADHD, PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder, I’m not sure how – and VH1, BET …’ ”
Nut allergies didn’t escape: “When did the peanuts become the enemy of the child?”
Nor did missing child alerts.
“One goes missing, the whole world goes looking,” Lopez said. “If one of us was missing, it was an extra pork chop at dinner.”
That’s just a sampling. Most of Lopez’s material, much of it the funniest and most thought-provoking, is too raw to be quoted or even paraphrased here. He segued from parenting into a deep commentary on body image, touching on weight, hair (all kinds), aging, and offering advice on certain, uh, activities that should be done only when you’re young.
Lopez, who is known for probing race relations and poking fun at his own heritage, sprinkled Hispanic jokes throughout: Chipotle is “Mexican baby food” and, circling back to fatherhood: “A Latino stay-at-home dad? He’s never there!”
President Obama didn’t escape. Lopez, who’s been a White House guest, pointed out that Obama “lives in a house he doesn’t own, spends money he doesn’t have, has his mother-in-law living with him to help take care of the kids, and they want to see his papers …
Lopez’s jokes are clever, and woven masterfully. His deep Hollywood experience is evident in the organization of his show. Lopez drops details to foreshadow, later drilling deeper into his message, and wrapping the salient points into a succinct, gut-busting conclusion.
There’s not a story line, per se, but Lopez is a storyteller, and the material is smart. Between laughs and a few uncomfortable glances at the people nearby, Lopez will make you think: Am I babying my kids too much? Am I being a little too careful about what I eat?
Should I skip Chipotle?
Do I need to enjoy life a little more?
On that latter point, Lopez is especially helpful. His tight content is matched by a highly physical delivery. Lopez moves smoothly in his dark suit and tie, using the microphone to create sound effects (mostly horns and imitations of bodily functions) and employing his wide eyes and large smile to punctuate the beats before a punch line.
Lopez gets credit, too, for employing a real star of an opener, Bryan Kellen. Like his boss, Kellen built his act around material that I can only highlight here. Among it: the absurdities of texting, the experience of being a white guy married to a Mexican woman, and dealing with middle-aged puberty (aka lengthening eyebrow hair).
Kellen, whose website bills him as a “rubber-bodied comedian,” danced, twisted and rolled on stage, and his suit and tie kept impressively in place as the audience erupted.
If this show was lecture time with Professor George Lopez, Kellen was a star teaching assistant. And the students walked out wanting more.