ATLANTIC CITY — After staying away from stand-up comedy for 17 years, it would be expected that Rob Schneider would be a little rusty on stage.
The “Saturday Night Live” alumnus is the first to admit that he never really had that one great hour of stand-up comedy that comedians aspire to assemble. And on this tour, he finally felt like he had it.
Let’s just say he needs another 30 minutes.
Schneider, whose film resume includes “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” and a bunch of Adam Sandler movies, including the summer 2010 flick “Grown Ups,” is better known for his goofy character acting than his on-stage antics.
And after witnessing his Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa debut Saturday night, it is obvious why Schneider took so long to get back to the art form that put him on the path to celebrity.
He’s a mediocre comic at best.
Schneider didn’t seem rusty so much as he just didn’t have great material to work with. While he made the audience chuckle throughout the evening, there were few big payoffs despite lots of setup time.
Schneider’s routine is filled with themes that other, better comics have had more fun with in the past. Often relying on ethnic humor that was slightly clever at best, Schneider’s 60-minute routine was hardly inspired.
Racial jokes were the norm, whether talking about his Jewish-Filipino background, his Mexican fiancee, Muslim terrorists or how funny Asians talk, a stereotype-laden bit always seemed handy when he needed a cheap laugh.
On his Filipino-Jewish heritage: “The house smells like soy sauce and the Holocaust.”
He treaded worn territory with easy jokes about Viagra, budget U.S. airlines and Tiger Woods.
“Like on Southworst,” Schneider said in a joke about snacks on airlines. “They hand a basket to you so you can pass it around.”
“It’s not his fault,” he said about Woods. “He has a disease, … or he should have one by now.”
Schneider spent several routines on politics, health care and the economy. While making some occasionally poignant, yet funny points, Schneider often came across as preachy as opposed to humorous, a pitfall other great politically charged comics, such as Lewis Black, seem to avoid.
But he also nicely weaved in some recent material pulled from current events, proving that he isn’t lazily doing the same show every night.
“I guarantee you three of those (Chilean) miners will end up on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” he joked.
The crowd seemed to feed off Schneider’s celebrity, coming to life when he offered impressions of characters such as the “making copies” guy from “SNL” and others from Sandler’s movies, yelling “You can do it!” his famous line from “The Waterboy,” throughout the evening.
The 46-year-old Schneider, whose delivery can be droll at times, was mostly full of energy all night and had good command of the material he offered, but he just never seemed to get on a comedic roll.
Schneider’s stand-up set was very much like most of his movies: funny in places, but less than memorable as a whole.
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