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REVIEW: Drew Carey gets carried away, drawing lots of Englert laughs

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Diana Nollen  ::   UPDATED: 21 January 2014 | 4:34 pm   ::  

IOWA CITY -- Drew Carey spoke the truth when he said we'd leave his standup show knowing everything about him.

Those of us in his Englert Theatre audience Friday night (10/18/13) now know he was raised Pentecostal in Ohio, has an ex, has a son, feels blessed every moment for his fame and fortune, loves hosting "The Price is Right," will always feel like he's walking in Bob Barker's shadow, has an average-size penis and a potty mouth.

Call me old-fashioned, but that's just a little bit MORE than we need to know. And now you know.

Still, the average-size audience laughed heartily as chameleon Carey regaled us with 70 minutes of insights into what he calls "the best life in the world."

He had me at hello.

"I love it here," he said. "All the way to Iowa, I couldn't get 'The Music Man' out of my head." For the last leg of his journey, he said, "I expected everyone on the plane to say, 'whatayatalk, whatayatalk, whatayataalk.' "

Now that's funny to this theater geek/reporter.

Then he talked about his life-changing 80-pound weight loss, prompted by a teen girl at O'Hare several years ago asking if he was Michael Moore. Now that he's slimmer and trimmer, one of his buddies pointed out that he looks like another celebrity of sorts: "He said I look like Orville Redenbacher's crazy nephew." I can see that.

Because Carey seems to know only one adjective/adverb, and it starts with "f," he did stop and offer this apology up front.

"Pardon my language, by the way, if you're a 'Price is Right' fan. I can't swear on 'The Price is Right,' although I want to,' he said, adding that the higher powers would frown on him saying, "Bitch won a car!"

"When it's gonna be my last show, tune in -- it's gonna be awesome." He said it will be short, "with a lot of weird edits."

He shared quite a lot about his seven-year game-show gig, where he's learned "no matter how high you rise, there's always going to be a person above you who's a (bleeping) idiot." He didn't need a survey to tell him that contestants "get most excited about cars, cash and trips," noting that everyone who hits the stage is disappointed when the prize they can win is a bedroom set.

"I love it when they win a surfboard and live here (in Iowa)," he said to much snickering from the crowd that came in from the cold to see the hot comic. "And I don't know why it's always the old ladies who win motorcycles."

Then he shared some secrets from the game-show realm: "Yes, you have to pay taxes on the prizes." "When you win a spa, we don't install it for you -- you just get a big box on your front lawn," then it costs a fortune to level a spot in the backyard and run all the pipes and utilities needed to actually set it up. "If you win a refrigerator that's too big for your kitchen, we don't care! You'll redo your entire kitchen just because you won an $800 refrigerator."

He segued into religion, saying he knows how Pope Francis feels, having the other pope still living and watching his every move.

With an aw-shucks grin, he quickly added: "Bob Barker's the nicest guy. I feel guilty telling that joke, but it always gets a big laugh."

He talked about a religion he learned about in Hollywood: Scientology, which has holidays and creation stories, just like all other religions. "In the Scientology Christmas, Tom Cruise comes down the chimney and jumps on your couch."

And even Carey, who has Fundamentalist heritage, has incurred the wrath of the Westboro folks. Maybe it's because he believes in marriage equality, although he cautions gays not to join "the hetero unhappy club." "It sounds good on paper, but with gay marriage comes gay divorce," and loss of money and property. "But hey, if Kim Kardashian can get married, gay people should be able to."

The best religion comment he made came in noting how after listening to the evening news, he opens the Bible to the Book of Revelation "and checks (stuff) off."

His final topic explored the realm of being 55 years old. "I'm just three years away from a fanny pack," he said, after pointing out all the stuff he carries in his "old man pockets," including a little baggie of dinner pills, that now empty, he'll take home and put in his baggies drawer.

I stopped taking notes when he started talking about his penis. That's just TMI from the fresh-faced comedian who really does look like Orville Redenbacher's crazy nephew -- with the cutest high-pitched giggle. I just want to hug him and give him some new adjectives.

True to his improv comedy roots, Carey's opening act was the wildly talented duo of Heather & Miles (Campbell and Stroth). She is an alum of Carey's popular "Whose Line is it Anyway" improv show, and together, she and Stroth spun a hilarious 20-minute routine out of an audience suggestion of "pugs that sneeze."

The story grew increasingly outrageous, as a little girl begged her dad for a pug, only to be told no. So she grabbed the dog, ran away from home, hitchhiked her way to a mountain-man's murderous lair and turned into a murderer herself, only to have it all spin back to her dad saying, "And that's what's going to happen if you don't get this dog?"

It takes a special kind of warped genius to carry off improv, and these two are no hitchhikers on Carey’s coattails. They're the real, solid deal.

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