It was late last week, while practicing his stand-up comedy routine in the shower, that Metta World Peace knew he’d developed some really good race jokes. Gay jokes, too. The type of jokes that could get an NBA player in trouble, but are nevertheless true to the unfiltered nature of the Lakers forward.
“Fans like me as the ‘emperor who wears no clothes,’” World Peace offers.
The big-hearted but ever-controversial World Peace will be exposing himself, so to speak, on Sept. 20 when he hosts a “Comedy Slam Dunk,” a charity-driven night of stand-up at L.A.’s legendary Laugh Factory. Between acts by yet-to-be-named professional comedians, the evening’s abnormally tall emcee will push the comedic envelope -- and, perhaps, try the patience of his employers -- with jokes that sit on the precipice of prejudice and other topics ranging from sports to politics.
“I’m definitely going to roast President Obama,” he says, “and I’m gonna roast the new guys, too: I have a cool joke about the new Lakers rock stars, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, and about Kobe a little bit. And I have a couple of gay jokes that I’m going to say.”
Wait, Metta ... are you sure you wanna go there?
“No, you can tell gay jokes -- you just have to be funny,” he counters. “It’s like telling black or white jokes. And I do have a couple of racist jokes -- you gotta throw out some racist jokes. There’s a difference between being racist and telling a racist joke. Every comedian does it. There’s no way around it. Gotta talk about your own race, obviously -- I’m going to stereotype black people. You gotta stereotype everybody. Females, too.
“Hopefully people like it, and people laugh.”
By now, World Peace knows what tickles our funny bone. He's already something of a comedian, and not just on Twitter, having hit comedy clubs on three occasions for last summer's “Ultimate Comedy Tour.” Still, his current routine might be his boldest drive through the stand-up lane yet.
“People like to hear my crazy stories and the crazy stuff that’s going through my brain, and they like to hear it with no filter whatsoever,” World Peace explains. “It’s fun, showing the side that I can’t show corporate America -- my flaws, when I’m happy, when I’m sad, not just how you are on national TV.”
Proceeds from the event’s ticket sales will benefit World Peace’s non-profit, Xcel University, and The Metta Center for Non-Violence. This could help in stemming any negative blowback from the Lakers' front office and the NBA’s no-nonsense commissioner. David Stern, we can only assume, doesn’t like racy jokes. I’m not entirely sure he likes jokes, at all.
But World Peace isn’t hearing all that. As his outmatched handlers will attest, the baller formerly known as Ron Artest is his own boss. He calls the shots, and then pursues them with unparalleled passion. And nothing (except maybe tidal waves) scares him. Fear fears him. Mr. Metta will stare directly at the sun, thank you very much, and then he’ll wait for its apology. Chuck Norris wants no part of World Peace.
And Metta, who is also a budding thespian, says his foray into comedy is no joke.
“I’ve been practicing every night in the bathroom,” he says. “I definitely want to do comedy long-term. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s good training for movies. The best actors are comedians, ya know?”
And what about that Lakers joke he’s planning to tell?
“It’s like a story,” he says, “about something I had a dream of recently. It goes something like this ...
“Just imagine we’re all on the court, our starting five: me, Nash, Dwight, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol. And I’m just chilling, and doing everything I’m not supposed to be doing. I’m disrupting the game, not running the plays, taking a beer break. Drinking a beer while Dwight’s shooting free throws ..."
Uh-huh. And the punchline, Metta?
“There’s more. I’m still working on that one.”