The Original Kings of Comedy (2000)

THE ORIGINAL KINGS OF COMEDY, Spike Lee's second stab at documen-
tary filmmaking after 1997's FOUR LITTLE BLACK GIRLS, presents two 
concise, crowd-pleasing, and Very Black (VB) hours of a Charlotte
(NC) stadium-sized comedy concert.  'Twas two nights on the cross-
country "Kings of Comedy" tour that, this year, teamed sitcom star 
Steve Harvey, the show's emcee, with three other popular (and also 
TV-appearing) black comedians, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertain-
er, and Bernie Mac.  (In order, "The Hughleys," "The Steve Harvey 
Show," and "Moesha.")  Collectively, they crack jokes along simi-
lar lines-- black people are funny versus white people are funny, 
female orgasms versus male orgasms, "old school" music versus hip-
hop, etc.  (The musical thread is so prominent, in fact, that, at 
one point, Harvey leads the audience in a mass appreciation of 
several soul classics.  Alas, for those *not* enamored with Earth, 
Wind, and Fire et al, it's also the movie's most tedious stretch.)
The comic quartet differs in delivery.  Cedric's fast-talking ver-
sus Harvey's lengthy pauses.  Hughley's faster-talking than Ced-
ric's fast-talking.  Or Big Mac's near-incomprehensible mumbling 
compared to everyone else.  

Obviously, viewer familiarity is gonna go a long way with this 
one.  I missed a good *third* of the jokes, I'm sure, because I 
couldn't full understand either the speakers or their oft-utilized 
slang.  (The most frequent, non-profane term thrown around?  Prob-
ably a tie between "dawg" and "big momma.")  If Steve Harvey is 
the most skilled orator of the lot-- and thus the easiest comic to 
comprehend-- Bernie Mac is the most *engaging.*  Wisely saved for 
last, he gives the film a good goosing.  And he's truly an unfor-
gettable presence-- those big, bright, white eyes under the barest 
of arched eyebrows; a high-cheekbone half-smile as he mutters 
"summamabitch" in-between assorted rants.  (Raising his brother's
pain-in-the-ass kids, being "tired of sex" and everything that 
goes along with, and, in a sequence alone worth the price of ad-
mission, telling the story of-- and impersonating!-- a stuttering 
child.)  Like the other three comics, Mac's outrage is far closer 
to friendly frustration than any raw, channeled anger.  Thus, the 
documentary film is never *once* uncomfortable to watch.  Unless, 
of course, you find explicit humor and repeated usage of the noun 
"motherf*cker" upsetting.  Now, having the cultural familarity to 
*laugh* at each and every joke is another matter entirely!  (Rated 
"R"/113 min.)

Grade: B

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: But Bernie Mac Makes The Show

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros