A funny thing happened in Waukegan last Thursday night! Well, actually a lot of “funny things happened”! We arrived at The Genesee Theatre for the one night only Ralphie May concert in plenty of time. The block seemed very dark in comparison to the rest of downtown Waukegan. Turns out the power at the beautiful Genesee was “down”. Having driven up to the theater and being told the power would be back on around show-time, we went down the street to one of the local watering holes and had a touch of the local flavored beverages. The theater called us to advise that the power was back on and that the show would start soon. This is a credit to the staff at this venue, making sure that we were up to snuff on the going-ons.
As we walked into the theatre we noticed just how big a following this comedian had. I was not familiar with his work, and was just assigned to cover this for “Around The Town”. My wife, Kim is familiar with his work, so of course, I asked her to join me for the evening. As the show began, Ralphie wanted to apologize to us for the delay in getting the show up and running. He also showed his sincerity at how his gracious fans remained in the area (a boon for local businesses) to wait for him to get on stage, and because of our loyalty was giving us the FULL show that was triple the amount of time we would have had. WOW! and DOUBLE WOW!!
The connection between this comic and his audience was amazing. In fact, universal ,as the wild audience was composed of all races and creeds, young and old, who all has a night to remember. He began his evening by attacking the well known chocolate cake served at Portillo’s. Mr. May is a large man, who evidently has the sweetest of teeth. Chicago’s restaurants offer great food and huge portions which for a guy like Ralphie May is dangerous. I must tell you, I was hysterical over the “food” bits as I also have had some problems with weight in my life and there is nothing like a good piece of chocolate cake to get me going!.
For those of you who know Ralphie May, his humor is a bit on the vulgar side, BUT that being said, it is funny and hits home for many of us. subjects that he touched upon are being politically correct and better yet, NOT being politically correct. He takes racial slurs and converts them into comedy bits, and of course, makes a stand on Trump possibly being our next President and how he will rid the United States of the illegal Mexican population which brings up the questions as to who will pick the tomatoes and fruit over the farms in the United States, who will clear the tables at our favorite restaurant? Who will mow our lawns? and ensure that our flower gardens make our property look beautiful.
Of course, reaching into the headlines of today, he also hits on a very sexually charged bit. He had invited a mom and her two sons (Justin, 14 and Dillon, 17) to sit in the first row so he could interact with them comparing the world of sex as he was growing up to today, and offering them advise which was much more comical that realistic. Or was it? I will say this- his material is uncensored, so be aware that if you are protective of your teens, this may not be a place you want to be, with them or even without! Ralphie May’s “do’s and don’ts” might be better off left to those with a more open mind.
I did appreciate his sincerity as he talked to us about his celebrating 25 years in show business; from his humble beginnings in Arkansas ( yes, he might be considered a “Redneck”), his life growing up, a major car accident. causing medical issues that had an impact on his life, having some mental issues and how PTSD has effected him and his lifestyle. He is also very PRO Veterans Benefits and his concerts and appearances are for him a type of fund-raiser where he takes a percentage of the profits and gives back to support groups and organizations that help these heroes find homes, jobs and get educated. Bravo to Ralphie May!
All in all, the evening was much more fun than I had anticipated and even though the show was one night. I am pretty sure based on the audience reaction that he will return. By the way, The Genesee, a beautiful historical landmark just west of the lake in Waukegan has a pretty solid schedule of shows- different types for different folks and it is just a short ride from Chicago and the Northern suburbs (as well as Milwaukee from the other side)- there are some places for drinks in the area and as you head toward the lake on Grand Ave (132) or Washington Street, you will see some spots as well. You will also find that parking is easier and far less expensive than heading into the city. To see what is coming up, visit www.GeneseeTheatre.com or call the box office at 847-263-6300. You can also check with Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com