The Original Kings of Comedy

PROGRAM:

Steve Harvey, the star of The Steve Harvey Show, is the master of ceremonies for the show. Unlike his sitcom character, Harvey’s on-stage routines use a significant amount of profanity; as the show’s M.C., Harvey is given three short sets instead of one long one.

The finale of Harvey’s sets finds him heckling a member of the audience by stealing his coat while he is away from his seat, and remarking that the “thuggish”-looking young man couldn’t possibly be in the field of “computer technology” that he claims he is. Harvey also covers his experiences growing up in the church, calling out the ineffectiveness of the typical black church “building fund”, and recollecting his mother’s friend Sister Odelle’s profane language and befuddled attempts to sing a church hymn (interspersed with lyrics from television show theme songs).

Harvey’s first set is followed by D. L. Hughley, the star of The Hughleys. He talks about family, specifically African-American family with roots in the South. He exploits the differences between black people and white people; for example, Hughley notes that black people don’t skydive or do other dangerous physical activities because they experience enough peril just trying to get through an average day. “Bungee jumping,” he says. “That’s too much like lynchin’ for us!” He also talks about “helicopter man”, a game he and his wife play in bed, and some skid-marked undergarments that he tried to hide at the bottom of his dirty clothes.

Cedric the Entertainer (Harvey’s co-star on The Steve Harvey Show) presents himself as the most in-tune with the younger demographic, and goes through a number of topics during his routine. Primary among these is his embellishment of the differences between the “hope factor” and the “wish factor”: white people “hope” that nothing goes wrong, and black people “wish” someone would start trouble so that they can retaliate. Cedric acknowledges that he is now a “grown-ass man”, and can no longer call his friends by their “lil’ nicknames” or engage in other such immature behavior.

He discusses how angry a black president might become if a Monica Lewinsky question were posed at a news conference, and also goes into routines about smoking, black athletes’ expansion into golf, tennis, and other sports, what a “ghetto-ass wedding” would be like, and black people’s eventual migration to the moon. Also his love for Jamaican music and how in their music they solve a simple problem.

Bernie Mac is the most autobiographical of the group. He turns his comedy on himself. He uses short, punchy attacks to make his point about his decreased sex drive and desire for quick sex instead of longer periods of intercourse. Mac’s longest routines involve his hard-nosed style of child-rearing, where he makes no qualms about “fucking a kid up” if he needs to. He goes into an extended routine about the stress of raising his sister’s children for her while she recovers from drugs [he didn’t actually have a sister; it was just part of the routine], and tells of a run-in he had with his two-year-old niece and his effeminate six-year-old nephew, whom he refers to repeatedly as “the faggot” (Mac’s routine about his sister’s kids later became the basis of his Fox Network show The Bernie Mac Show).

He then tells a story about his mentally challenged nephew and his bouts with his bus driver; according to Mac, when the bus would come, his nephew would attempt to ask a question, but would immediately start stuttering, frustrating the bus driver and prompting him to drive off without picking him up. This continues the next few days, and Mac’s aunt confronts the bus driver, asking why he was “denying [her son’s] ‘edumacation.'” The bus driver begins to stutter exactly like Mac’s nephew, then proclaims “he was teasin’ me!”. The set, and the film, are concluded with Mac’s piece on the ubiquity of the swear word “motherfucker”, which he describes as “a noun: a person, place or thing,” and then, as noted by New York Times reviewer Elvis Mitchell, “proceeds to give the heft of an adjective and even transforms it into a split infinitive.”

REVIEW:

There comes a time where you just want to get the taste of some less than stellar films out of your mouth. When these days roll around, I turn to the tried and true genre of stand-up comedy. Enter The Original Kings of Comedy, a concert flick that is sure to have you cracking up from pillar to post.

What is this about?

Director Spike Lee documents the final night of the popular comedy tour featuring four black funnymen — Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley and Bernie Mac — who do their part to revive stand-up comedy’s glory days.

What did I like?

Foreshadowing. There is a scene where Bernie Mac is talking to the camera and he seems to be begging for a TV show since his fellow kings all have had shows. I’m not sure, but I think that after the release of this film they did give him a show, which was actually based on his routine. Not only did they give him a show, but that show went on to win some awards, if I’m not mistaken.

Old school. I love old school r & b. You can blame my parents for that, but I actually thank them for introducing me to good music. Throughout this whole picture, we get lots old school music, such as “Loves Holiday” by Earth, Wind, & Fire, “Turn Off the Lights” by Teddy Pendergrass, etc. The music plays such an important role in this film that Steve Harvey makes it a part of his master of ceremony act.

Funny. From the acts (Cedric the Entertainer was my favorite), to the vignettes, to the interaction with the audience, this film does not skimp on the funny. There are very few films that will have you laughing this much. It is no wonder these guys have gone on to such big careers if they can tickle the audience’s funny bone like this.

What didn’t I like?

Audio. The film proper has no audio issues, but the interspersed audience scenes seem to have a different audio level. How Spike Lee let this slide is beyond me. Thank goodness there weren’t that many of these scenes, but still!

The Original Kings of Comedy is a great little stand-up comedy film. The talents of these four comedians are on full display and aren’t as restricted which allows them to shine in their routines, rather than being held back for television r family film roles. Fans of films like Eddie Murphy Raw and the like are sure to enjoy this. I very highly recommend this flick, so check it out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “The Original Kings of Comedy”

  1. […] is that you don’t really know how live they are. I think about the Steve Harvey segments from The Original Kings of Comedy and wonder if that “confrontation” was truly live or just staged. Nothing like that with […]

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