ONAMIA -- Sinbad, who can't go 10 seconds without breaking into his famous ear-to-ear grin, seems too young to be on the casino circuit. Then again, during a nearly two-hour set Friday night at Grand Casino Mille Lacs north of Onamia, he effortlessly won over the crowd like a tried-and-true veteran.
The 48-year-old comedian had a few topics he wanted to touch on, such as reality TV (he'd be the first fat "Survivor" contestant), the Michael Jackson trial (the parents should be locked up, too) and that old standby, parent-child relations (how to get your kid to move out: Walk around the house naked).
But mostly he seemed to be holding a conversation with the audience.
For starters, Sinbad wanted to know where the heck he was. The crowd told him Onamia (close enough). When asking for directions in the Twin Cities, he was told, "There ain't no city that starts with an 'O.'" And on the drive up, he worried if his vehicle broke down, no one would know until they found his body; he obviously beat the weekend rush to the lakes.
Then he asked, "Where's the nearest city that has stuff?" The crowd said Brainerd (close enough), but Sinbad said, "Wasn't that in a movie?" and became suspicious of the town as portrayed in "Fargo."
He was also amusingly baffled by ice fishing: "Now there's a guy who hates his wife," he said of ice fishermen. He brought back zingers involving ice augers at least three more times during the set.
It wasn't that Sinbad's jokes were extremely original, it was that he was having a blast on stage. That transferred to the crowd: The comedian hardly had to finish a sentence before people ate it up. This wasn't classic punch-line comedy, it was closer to a one-man improv show. I saw the 6 p.m. set, and I assume the 9 p.m. version was completely different.
During the last chunk of the set, in fact, he wanted to hear from audience members who hated their jobs, then he doled out advice. To a waiter who hated customers who ask for extras, he said, "Here's what you do" and mimed digging pickles out of his pockets.
On Friday, Sinbad didn't have to dig too deep for laughs.
JOHN HANSEN, entertainment editor, can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5863.
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