A busy Foxx does his boast
Jamie Foxx is the closest thing to a real Renaissance man we've got in modern hyphenate culture: an actor-musician-comedian who does more than dabble. His comedy roots stretch back to the edgy, early '90s television show "In Living Color." Last year he joined Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Barbra Streisand as the only Academy Award-winning actors to also have a No. 1 album. Currently starring in the blockbuster film "Dreamgirls," and with "Unpredictable" nominated for three Grammy awards, Foxx's show for a sold-out crowd at the Wang Theatre on Saturday felt like a well-deserved victory lap.
Too much like a victory lap, in fact, and not enough like a well-crafted evening of entertainment. Foxx performed a half-hour of comedy followed by an hour of music, and while there's no denying his natural talent, there's also no escaping the nagging sense that Foxx is just too busy to put in the energy required to mastermind either a great set of comedy or a gratifying night of music.
Foxx riffed on the "N" word (a must for black folks, uncool for Kramer), kissing Beyoncé, and partying with O.J. Simpson. The 39-year-old reminisced about the challenges of old-school technology: i.e. changing the cassette tape during sex. Foxx did clever impersonations: Mick Jagger strutting, Paris Hilton stumbling, Eddie Murphy laughing, and (best of all) Oprah during a "Favorite Things" episode lauding a special part of Foxx's anatomy. Mildly amusing? Yes, but tossed-off and hardly hysterical.
Following a cheesy photo/video montage of his career high points, Foxx materialized on a pedestal, yellow leather and black sequins replaced with a natty white suit. He announced that the remaining portion of the show was "for the ladies" and then sang much of "Unpredictable," a collection of super-salacious bedroom jams, backed by a seven-piece band and four singers. Foxx has a smooth, strong voice; plenty of charisma; and (according to his lyrics) a tireless appetite for sex. Pantomimed pumping was the main feature of Foxx's choreography. During "Three Letter Word" he unsuccessfully sought help from a comely professional, who wound up near-naked and writhing on the therapist's couch.
All well and good and par for the R&B course, but Foxx is better than that. His tribute to Ray Charles, performed in costume and in character, and an emotional performance of "Wish U Were Here," accompanied by photos of Foxx's grandmother, were the thrilling exceptions on a night of generic humor, music, and ego. "I'm an Oscar winner," he reminded the audience a dozen times during the show, which closed with footage from last year's Academy Awards telecast. It's surprising that someone as multifaceted as Foxx hasn't figured out that self-aggrandizement sucks the life right out of the celebration.