If you go
Comedian Orlando Jones
Where: Off the Hook Comedy Club, 599 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island
When: 9 p.m. Thursday,May 3, Friday, May 4 and Sunday, May 6; and 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, May 5
Admission: $20, plus $2 convenience fee
Reservations: 239-389-6900 or www.captbriens.com/off-the-hook-comedy-club
The comedy stage for years was sacred ground, a place where comedians could take shots at society with few repercussions.
Orlando Jones says that has changed. Now, the comic actor explains, comedians are expected to apologize for what they say and people who are supposed to be serious — such as political pundits on cable TV news shows — can say whatever they want with no repercussions.
Jones performs at 9 p.m. today, Friday and Sunday and 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday at Capt. Brien's Seafood and Raw Bar, home of the Off the Hook Comedy Club, 599 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island.
"The weird part about it is, somewhere along the way, we lost our way for civil discourse," he says.
Jones, 44, can speak from experience. Last fall, he came under fire from some when he wrote on Twitter: "Libyan Rebels kill Gaddafi, if American liberals want respect they better stop listening to Aretha & kill Sarah Palin."
And he pointed to controversial remarks made in recent years by fellow comedians Bill Maher and Tracy Morgan, who last year remarked that he would stab his son to death if he ever discovered he was gay. Morgan later apologized.
"Their intention is to make you laugh at the world," Jones said. "But when you ask people who stand on that stage to apologize, we're a little out of sorts. I find that hilarious."
Jones hit the national stage in the 1990s, when he was cast in Fox's sketch comedy show "MADtv," and later, as the national pitchman in the "Make 7-Up Yours" soft drink campaign. He also had small roles in movies including "Office Space" and "Magnolia" and had a starring role in Barry Levinson's "Liberty Heights" in 1999.
Jones says he doesn't include politics in his stand-up because he finds it less relevant.
"The pundits have covered those topics to the point that I don't think those topics are interesting anymore," he says. "There's plenty of stuff to talk about these days."
He focuses on other parts of society. A popular target is TV reality show celebrity Kim Kardashian, who's among the worst possible role models for women, Jones says. It used to be that a woman who was promiscuous would damage her career. With women like Kardashian, Jones says, it actually has helped them.
"I'm not sure that switch is better or for worse, but that has happened," he says.
Jones, the father of a 21-month-old girl, says he plans convey such concerns to her when he she grows up.
"As a father, I'm going to draw that line for my daughter," he says. "That's my job to make it clear."
Jones also enjoys discussing race during his show.
"It's never been more heated than 2012," he says. "If you bring up race to a black person, we're too angry and emotional. If you bring up race to a white person, they're too busy trying to move it out of the way. They don't want to have the conversation.
"That is bizarre to me, as this country is a melting pot."
He's also fascinated with Twitter and Facebook.
"There's no point in human history where everybody could talk to everyone in the room and everyone outside the room," Jones says.
"To me that's a 21st-century comedic world. That's not something Richard Pryor or Moms Mabley was dealing with."
Jones lists Pryor and Mabley — both comedic pioneers — among his heroes growing up, and listened to his father's comedy records as a child. Other role models include comedians Shelley Berman and W.C. Fields, he says.
"My interest in them was as writers and storytellers," Jones says. "My interest in comedy was the same as the interest in drama."
Jones says he's dabbled in everything from movies and TV to comedy, but it's comedy he enjoys because comedians love communicating with people.
"Part of the job is to talk about the insanity that we're living in and find a way to laugh at it and shine a light on it," he says. "Just telling jokes is a lot of fun, but frankly, it's easier."