Denis Leary | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Denis Leary 

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I'm a bit confused by the widely held notion that comic Denis Leary sits on some Sam Kinison-like id-splotched politically incorrect comedy throne. His vociferous defenses of his personal vices--which on close examination come down to eating meat and smoking--are something less than sociopathic; his saliva-spewing delivery and indignantly raised voice far more often deal with safer subjects like drugs neither he nor his audience are likely to use (on crack: "I would never do a drug named after a part of my own ass"), New York ("There are so many ways to die"), and easy political targets (Ted Kennedy: "A good senator but a bad date"). Leary has put to use a good wit and a hands-on feel for the zeitgeist to become a deserving MTV icon. And that, in keeping with the channel's own zeitgeist, means that you've got to keep your eye on him. (You haven't lived until you've seen a chain-smoking Leary cohost House of Style with Cindy Crawford.) His true colors are shown in a remarkable series of logorrheic MTV shorts, where he speeds through discourses on things like rock 'n' roll pretentiousness, Crawford, and a groovily handled slate of social ills. With this last, particularly, he conjures up, too many times for it to be accidental, casual comic epiphanies (on racism: "I got a two-year-old at home. Know what he hates? Naps. End of list") that outclass anyone else currently working in the form. Monday, 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield; 472-0449.

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