Mike Tyson's one-man stage show "Undisputed Truth" opened at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas over the weekend and runs through Wednesday. The ex-champ then hopes to play Broadway and London. Here are excerpts of how the press weighed in on his performance:
Las Vegas Sun:
It is impossible to resist the temptation to liken the experience to a fight, and there were very few power punches landed as Tyson squared off with his past.
Tyson did all he could, too, to knock us dizzy. He continually set the audience up for the knockout by swearing and attempting to shock with repeated use of the "N" word. Instead, he won the night with a frequently methodical decision. It was jab, jab, jab, for about 2 hours.
Tyson was alternately playful and somber in reciting his remarks from the text written by his wife, Kiki, and screenwriter Randy Johnson. That approach kept Tyson on task and allowed him to convey his thoughts in an organized, chronological manner. But disappointingly, there was not sufficient video or photo footage of Tyson's life and career to sustain the narrative. One telling example was when Tyson enthusiastically recalled the roiling series of knockouts he recorded early in his career. As he talked of "knocking those (expletives) OUT," he sang Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" while his five-piece backing band (which stayed onstage throughout the show) cranked out the song."
The bigger problem is tone. Tyson gets a good run of emotion going, only to have the spell broken by a song, or worse: Him joining in on it.
But that's part of the undisputed truth too: He wants to be funny now, almost as much as he wants us to like him. "I'm doing this show so you guys better understand me," he says at the beginning.
"I hope you leave here with a better understanding of me," he said again in the clumsy finale, adding "Before you get yourself into a mess, think twice and think about what happened to me."
Consider that battle for understanding a tongue-twisted TKO. It might not have been pretty, but a win is a win.
The name of Tyson's show, "Undisputed Truth," likely had its producers thinking the former champ would have to deal with his stormy and violent marriage to Robin Givens and his 1992 conviction in the rape of Desiree Washington, which landed him in prison.
Yet during the show, Tyson repeatedly called them "bitches" and blamed them for his failings. Such a cliched reaction from anyone with a history of abuse is more likely to draw resentment than inspire sympathy from an audience.
The Daily Mail:
Occasionally Tyson even managed a strange kind of poetry when he talked about what he called 'my dark dreams and shadows.'
Among his parting words to the audience were: 'Before you get yourself into a mess, think twice and think about what happened to me.'
Tyson's six-show run began on Friday and after that he hopes to take his show to Broadway and possibly London's West End.
The former baddest man on the planet once made opponents and anyone who came into his path shake with fear. On this night, though, it was all I could do not to run up on stage and give him a big hug.
Surely a lot of those gathered in a hotel theater just down the hall from where Tyson had some of his biggest fights felt the same way. How could they not after watching him bare his soul for assorted VIP's and anyone willing to pay $117.49 to hear his story?
It was billed as "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" and there's still time to catch it if you have the cash and can get to the MGM Grand hotel before Wednesday's final performance. Beware, though, because this is more about Tyson's greatest misses than it is about his greatest hits.
"Many of you wondered what the hell Mike Tyson was going to do on stage tonight," Tyson said at the beginning of the show. "I was wondering the same thing."
Actually, I had a good idea because I've been listening to it for years. So did Tyson, because the show is mostly scripted -- credit is given to wife Kiki -- and he knows the subject material because he's lived it.
That he's still alive at the age of 45 after all that living is remarkable enough, a fact Tyson himself acknowledged on stage. Any combination of the women, the fights, the drinking and the heavy cocaine use could have done him in at any time.
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