Not even unsubstantiated death threats could keep Mike Tyson's adoring fans -- including
Puff Daddy P. Diddy Sean Combs Diddy -- away from Broadway's Longacre Theater last night, where the former Heavyweight Champion of the World performed his one-man show, Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth. The influence of director Spike Lee could be felt here and there: the ultra-loud pre-show mix of rap classics, spun by D.J. Clark Kent, called to mind the opening montage of Lee's film "Do the Right Thing," as did the banners featuring names of Brooklyn neighborhoods from "Bed Stuy Do or Die" to, oddly enough, Park Slope. Once the show began, the overwhelmingly male, mostly white audience cheered every time Tyson referenced his legendary boxing career -- and guffawed in a way that probably would have made Dave Chappelle squirm every time he said the word "motherfucker." (He said it a lot.) But maybe they were just glad to hear words they recognized, since much of what the champ said was impossible to understand, thanks to his famous lisp and tendency to mumble.
Still, there was something compelling about Tyson's performance. He's a guy you can love and/or hate, but indifference isn't really an option. And the script, written by Tyson's third wife, Kiki, includes a number of notable gems. Here are some favorites:
On respecting the audience:
"I promise you'll all leave here with two ears tonight."
On his own troubled youth:
"The juvenile detention center was like Cheers. Everybody knew my name."
On discovering his prowess as a street fighter at age 10:
"It was love at first fight."
On being inspired by his first trainer, Cus D'Amato:
"This old man made me hunger for glory like a mad dog."
On Cus's advice to a young Mike Tyson:
"The way you fight your fight is the way you live your life."
On Brad "The Shit" Pitt's relationship with Tyson's ex Robin Givens:
"Don't they look like a broke, bootleg version of Robert Redford and Pearl Bailey?"
On Givens and her mother, Ruth Roper:
"They tag-teamed me more than Hulk Hogan and Mr. T."
(He also calls Givens "a black tramp with white tendencies.")
On his rationale for getting into a street brawl with boxer Mitch Green, who had been taunting him:
"I don't have to take this shit. I'm Mike Tyson."
On his street-fighting tactics:
"I'll bite a motherfucker."
On the urban legend that boxers abstain from sex before big fights:
"Abstinence? Shit, I can't even say the word."
On why he was convicted on felony rape charges, despite what he claims is his innocence:
"I had a tax attorney for my defense attorney."
On the "blessing" of going to prison for three years:
"It was the first time I was able to be still.... [but] I'm not recommending anyone go to jail to be free."
On his approach to prison life:
"I couldn't wait to show these sociopaths that I was just as homicidal as these motherfuckers, if not moreso."
On life after bankruptcy:
"I was homeless and ho-less."
On the hit his reputation took after bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear during a match:
"I went from the 10th-most hated man in the world to numero uno."
To see images of Tyson in action, check out this slideshow below: