Carlos Oscar Is a Lean, Clean Joke Machine

Carlos OscarThis guy is fucking funny.

Incidentally, he’s billed as a “clean” comedian. Which doesn’t obligate me to be a clean writer.  … Aww, what the, uh, heck , I’ll give it a try.

Rarely do I write in billboard blurbs, but Carlos Oscar—who just launched a fill-in residency at LVH’s Shimmer Cabaret on singing group Mo5aic’s off-nights—may be a punch line’s best friend in Vegas.

Motor-mouthed from his first syllable, the New York-reared Oscar’s funniest-friend-at-the-party intimacy with an audience is endearingly cool. Perched on a stool and perpetually leaning in toward the crowd, he comes across less as an “act” than as the guy everyone in the room wants to gather around because he’s got the best stories, hilariously told.

While deploying traditional topics—airport aggravation, relationship exasperation, fast food, body piercing, even hunting Osama bin Laden—Oscar unearths fresh snark:

On airport security officials: “They think they’re cops. They wear patches instead of badges. If you can iron your badge, you’re not a cop.”

On dealing with wives who shop, then brag they saved money on sales: “Buy a car. If she complains, say, ‘I could have bought a plane. Look how much I saved.’”

On a dumb brother-in-law who wants to be an astronaut and land on the sun, then is told he’d be incinerated. “He thought for a moment and said, ‘What if I go at night?’”

On finding bin Laden by issuing a fake credit card in his name, buying stuff, then not paying. “Capital One WOULD NOT STOP.”

Ego often underlines successful comedy and you can sense it in the comic—a kind of self-satisfaction with one’s own wit, frequently expressed in pauses to let the laughter wash over them, and in subtle strutting across the stage. Oscar does none of it, primarily because he’s so furiously paced that he doesn’t allow himself the luxury—I counted only twice when a pause stretched out to a full five seconds.

Even more effective is his clever inside-outing of the crowd, as when he launches into hilarious kvetching about how wives undermine the confidence of their husbands. Giggles bubble up and Oscar feigns protest. “No, no, don’t laugh, let me tell you this, it’s serious!” Sure, it’s carefully crafted manipulation—fake distress at our amusement just amuses us further—and an ingratiating way to lube us up to laugh.

All with a vocabulary that never even approaches the profanity level of h-e-double-toothpicks.

Check out Carlos Oscar for 70 minutes of really good sh … stuff.

STRIP POSTSCRIPT: You can’t keep a good drama queen—make that dancing queen—down. Or out of Vegas. Mamma Mia will hit the reprise button for a new, open-ended run at the Tropicana’s renovated theater in the spring. That’s after the ABBA-fueled musical concluded a successful six-year run at Mandalay Bay in 2008, and after it takes a tour turn at The Smith Center on January 7-12.

Perhaps they should recruit Pierce Brosnan and his tin-plated pipes to resurrect his role from the movie. … May my ears forgive me.

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