Home to some of the world’s best comedy, Chicago seemingly can’t escape talk of its gun violence even at comedy shows.
The multi-talented Nick Cannon and the cast of his popular MTV show “Wild ‘N Out” have hit the road in a cross-country tour for the first time.
The slimmed-down cast of “Wild ‘N Out Live!” reprised a few of the show’s most popular games Saturday night at the UIC Pavilion, including “Pick Up and Kill It,” “Family Reunion” and “Wildstyle.” Superstar rappers Waka Flocka Flame and Rich Homie Quan joined the crew, setting an electric pace and a comfortable balance between comedy and hip-hop.
Met by a raucous crowd in the Windy City — the third stop on the tour — the cast couldn’t blow past the city’s gun violence. In the night’s sold-out back-to-back shows, the comedians made light of the issue while coming close to overstepping a line between joking and shaming on a handful of occasions.
“Please don’t shoot me, I just wanna get home safe,” social media superstar Emmanuel Hudson quipped at the start. “Smelling like gunpowder and unsolved murders in here,” he later added. “What, you thought I wasn’t gonna talk about that?”
Cannon shut him down, saying, “Don’t believe that b——. Chicago is family right here.”
But Cannon, the former “America’s Got Talent” host and star of Spike Lee’s controversial movie “Chi-Raq,” couldn’t stop the rest of the cast from spewing similar jokes.
“Forget the police, y’all need the Power Rangers in Chicago,” said one of the show’s biggest stars, Anthony “Chico Bean” Bean.
The cast also took time to encourage Chicagoans to “enjoy life” and “party” while working to put down the guns.
The two native Chicagoans in the cast didn’t make a single mention of gun violence. Rip Michaels (who worked with Cannon to organize the tour) and comedian Blair Christian battle rapped, leaving the commentary to the rest of the lineup.
The crowd also was treated to electric performances from Rich Homie and Waka, who jumped off the stage and into the crowd, shaking his dreadlocks in the faces of overjoyed fans.
Despite its few misses Wild ‘N Out Live! proved to be a hit. Cannon’s cast added special surprises, including stand-up comedy sets from Bean and former “Last Comic Standing” contestant Karlous Miller. Yet they stayed true to the “Wild” DNA that helped the show reach a peak many didn’t think possible. It’s come a long way since a roller-coaster four seasons on MTV beginning in 2005, a six-year hiatus and a triumphant return in 2013, this time on MTV2. The season five premiere pulled in 1.1 million viewers — making it the highest-rated telecast in MTV2 history; it was back on MTV by 2016.
Wild ‘N Out Live! didn’t just give comedy and rap to the crowd; it gave fans a truly good time. The show translated into a live performance better than expected, and its continued success shouldn’t surprise any who experience it.