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Comedian Rawlings feels right at home in a crowd


A few days ago, comedian Donnell Rawlings performed standup in front of 6,000 fans with his old buddy Dave Chappelle in Radio City Music Hall. But 6,000 people was a breeze, because Rawlings and Chappelle played to a crowd of 23,000 last year.

What’s it like, telling jokes in front of 23,000 people?

“I was nervous as (expletive),” Rawlings told me. “You don’t hear laughter. You hear, ‘Hhhh.’ It’s like ocean waves. And you gotta wait for that wave to slow down (to tell the next joke). It’s a whole different timing than doing nightclubs or theaters.”

Rawlings steadied his nerves by telling himself, “The material you’ve been working in front of 50 people or 500 people or 1,000 people, it’s the same material you’re working here. You’re the same person.”

On Saturday, Rawlings will headline two nighttime shows at Aliante casino with comics Jeff Dye, Tanisha Long and Esther Ku from Rawlings’ buzzy MTV2 show, “Guy Code” and its companion show “Girl Code.”

Rawlings’ two MTV shows, “Guy Code” and “Guy Court,” have given him a renewed sense that he’s relevant.

Rawlings was very relevant eight years ago when he was on Comedy Central’s “Chappelle’s Show.” He played Ashy Larry, who was so ashy, when he blew air into his palms, baby powder erupted into the air. His ubiquitous catchphrase, combined with Chappelle’s image, swept the young nation: “I’m rich, (expletive).”

Chappelle famously quit that show in 2006, leaving behind a paycheck of more than $50 million, and he later told Oprah Winfrey he killed the show over creative control, stress and exploitation.

Fans don’t want to accept that explanation. I asked Rawlings if people will ever stop asking him why Chappelle quit?

“No,” Rawlings. “And the reason is there’s no type of closure on it. If there was closure, then I could see people toning down. But when it’s open-ended like that, there’s always going to be questions.”

Rawlings doesn’t mind.

“That show gave me a platform to do what I’ve been doing for years, so I don’t have a problem with people asking me the same questions.”

On “Guy Court,” Rawlings serves as a judge in cases where people have broken certain “guy codes.”

“You know, the funny thing about that is, I have a brother who went to Brown University and Georgetown Law. So for like 13 Thanksgivings in a row, he was the man.

“I couldn’t wait to wear my (‘Guy Court’) judge robe and bring my gavel to Thanksgiving,” Rawlings said. “But he got a 1390 on the SAT, and 90 percentile on the LSAT, so he still wins at the end of the day.”

Rawlings can’t wait to return to Vegas.

“The last time I was in Vegas, I got a permanent scar on my forehead. I thought I was fighting somebody, but somebody told me I was fighting the carpet.”

SANTANA WORLD CUP

House of Blues Las Vegas headliner Carlos Santana will perform “Dar um Jeito (We Will Find A Way)” with Vegas DJ Avicii, Wyclef Jean and Alexandre Pires during closing ceremonies of the World Cup.

I hope everyone realizes that feeling sorry for Brazil soccer fans is as silly as feeling sorry for Boston sports fans.

SIGHTINGS

Dwayne Wade partied Tuesday at 1 Oak nightclub in the Mirage while in town for fellow Miami Heat free agent LeBron James’ basketball camp and James’ next decision on where to play ball next season. Don’t you wish we had an NBA team here so Vegas could be in the mix? I mean, the extra traffic would suck, but still.

TWEETING VEGAS

@sportsyelling: BREAKING: #SOURCES CONFIRM THAT LEBRON JAMES HAD A SAVORY CREPE FOR BREAKFAST IN LAS VEGAS. WE BREAK DOWN WHAT THAT MEANS FOR CLEVELAND NEXT

Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.