Review: Adam Carolla at the Empire Theater

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Comedian Adam Carolla performing on stage at the Empire Theater in San Antonio on Friday, July 13.

Even before Adam Carolla could say anything at the Empire Theater Friday evening, fans in attendance were already demanding what they expected from the outspoken comedian best known for his stints on TV shows like The Man Show and Loveline.

“Say something sexist!” a guy from the audience yelled over all the hooting and hollering as Carolla took his place center stage.

Weeks before, Carolla, who owns the Guinness Book World Record for the most downloaded podcast in history (adamcarolla.com), was quoted as saying male comedy writers are funnier than female comedy writers. On a scale of controversial things Carolla has said in his career, his comments weren't earth-shatteringly sexist, but female comedy writers slammed him nonetheless via Twitter for the next couple of weeks.

On Friday, it was water under the bridge for Carolla, who didn’t mention the remarks he made or anything else that has caused his critics to raise their eyebrows over the years. In fact, to throw everyone for a loop (especially those who had never seen him on stage before), controversial material wasn’t a big part of the performance overall. Fortunately, Carolla doesn’t have to rely on anti-Semitism and homophobic statements to get his crowds riled up. He is much funnier than that.

“That was some pretty fucking controversial shit I just laid down, so I hope you enjoyed that,” Carolla joked after he had to adlib some material while waiting for stagehands to bring him a working microphone.

The rest of the evening (excluding a malfunctioning laser pointer) went smoothly as Carolla told stories from his new book Not Taco Bell Material and his run ins with celebrities, including Tom Cruise and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks. He’s shared his Dixie Chicks story (a doozy that’s about 20 minutes long) with audiences before, but anyone who hadn’t heard it was in for a great anecdote. Carolla even took a few jabs at comedian Chris Tucker (Rush Hour), who was performing that same evening next door at the Majestic Theater.

After admitting his friend and Loveline co-host Dr. Drew had diagnosed him with “hyper-vigilance,” Carolla went on to a part of the show he called “Shit That Pisses Me Off.” The segment consisted of rants on penis graffiti, car window decals dedicated to dead friends and family members, and ceiling fans manufactured with a super-slow setting (“It takes 45 minutes for one fucking blade to make a complete revolution! Is that doing anyone any good? Why do we need the super-slow-not-affecting-anything speed? It’s like having an oven with a setting that doesn't cook anything!”)

The final 30 minutes of Carolla's set starts slowing down when he acts a little too much like a motivational speaker. The whole point is to let people know they shouldn't give up on their dreams, but without a few fart jokes thrown into the mix, the bit gets heavy-handed.

Nevertheless, Carolla is solid at what he does. He might be kicking ass with his podcast right now, but someone needs to put him back on the radio as soon as possible. And for those who can't stand the man, at least keeping him busy on the radio will save you from having to see him slum it on reality shows like Dancing with the Stars and Celebrity Apprentice.

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