By Keith Hernandez
For years, Aries Spears used his preternatural ability to imitate celebrities on Fox’s Mad TV. From Michael Jackson to Jesse Jackson, Spears delivers amazingly deft impersonations of some of America’s most incendiary stars. So it’s no surprise that the most rewarding and comical part of Spears’ double CD I Ain’t Scared comes when the comedian recasts Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the mobster drama Heat, taking over Al Pacino and Robert De Niro’s famous roles.
Spears’ delivery is pitch-perfect and cuts through the absurdity of Stallone and Schwarzenegger trying to act. Spears has a real joy in his voice when he does these characters — a passion and playfulness that exude through the impersonations. His calm presence and smooth demeanor is also solid during his Snoop Dogg, DMX and LL Cool J medley.
Unfortunately, the rest of the CD is lackluster and devoid of the same blunt humor that works so well in the Heat scene. The first disc is filled with uninspired musings about race, sex and sports – the usual commentary at a comedy show. Spears doesn’t say anything that would skew from the norm.
The most controversial punch line comes when he jokes about Arabs and how they’ve taken the pressure off blacks: “Arabs are the new nigger.” Though witty and insightful, it’s a bit dated. While his jokes are delivered with a polish and persuasiveness that make it difficult not to laugh, the first disc leaves you craving for more.
And that’s what the second CD should be for. Sadly, though, it falls a bit flat. It’s full of Jerky Boys-style prank calls, during which Spears exhibits his impressive breadth of voices. The calls, however, are too long and there seems to be little tension between Spears and his victims.