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Case Number 08415: Small Claims Court

Buy The Big Black Comedy Show: Volume 2 at Amazon

The Big Black Comedy Show: Volume 2

Fox // 2004 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // January 20th, 2006

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All Rise...

Though he was all ready to get his laugh on, Judge Bill Gibron discovered that at least a third of this DVD's title is blatantly false.

The Charge

Someone forgot to include the laughs.

The Case

Over the last decade, specifically since the incapacitation of Richard Pryor and the ongoing exodus of his protégés to attempted big-screen success, ethnic comedy has been locked in a quagmire of concerning archetypal elements. Instead of learning from their mentors and mimicking what worked best, many African-American, Hispanic, or Asian comedians have determined that shock and sex is where the snickers are. Blue doesn't begin to describe the sort of language used and, without Master Pryor's social commentary and cultural graces, the cursing and cussing become the centerpiece of the routine. Reproductive attributes, funky odors, and the typical race-baiting verbiage make the entire performance as non-PC as possible, while still arguing that such strangled sentiments "keep it real."

The good thing about The Big Black Comedy Show is that it really tries to balance this explosive equation out. For every humping and whoring example of comedy crudeness, it offers up intelligent, even thought provoking, humor that has something vital to say to its mainly black demographic. It may be outrageous, but it's outspoken as well. Still, for all the validity that comes with such an approach, the comedy is kind of weak. Actually, the vast majority of this 90-minute excursion into stand-up is not funny at all. Between the five acts featured and the interview breaks presented by "co-host" Rodney Perry, there is perhaps 10 solid minutes of amusement. The rest is just incomprehensible chatter, outright revolting gynecological diatribes, and the standard "black men got big penis" jokes. Taken together, there may be some who enjoy this scatological sludge, but for a title promising big laughs, the lack of same is very unsettling.

Perhaps the best way to determine your intent toward this title is to break down the five comics standing, and see if anything they have to offer stirs your funny—or philosophical—bone. Let's begin with:

Mo' Nique: Miss Thang has made a living out of being large and in charge, channeling the inner angst that comes with obesity into a strong statement about security and sexiness. Sure, and Starr Jones said the same thing before she turned into a bulimic bullfrog. Still, she's got a wonderful style about her, an unforced freshness that allows us to buy her bounty of foul language. She does a particularly scathing routine about her older sister's druggie past—with the sibling right in the audience. Such bravery translates across the screen. Too bad she is nothing more than a glorified presenter.

Sexy Marlo: The so-called "sexy" Ms. M is "ghetto." She's a hood rat. She's so straight out of Compton that NWA owes her royalties. At least, that's what the derelict diva wants us to think. She repeats it over, and over, and over, and over again. Trying so hard to establish her proto-poverty roots leaves her very little time for humor, and that should really be counted as a blessing. Most of her quips could be categorized as "random thoughts on smelly vaginas/buttocks." Though the crowd loves her lewd takes on personal hygiene, it seems to be the sole note of her routine—well, that, and how she likes to *$&@! By the time she's finished, we know more about Marlo's bedroom antics than those of R. Kelly, Tommy Lee, and Rob Lowe combined.

Rodman: This may sound incredibly harsh, but Rodman's routine is like one of those hopelessly racist vaudeville acts from the 1920s. As he shuffles across the stage and runs his mouth in a non-stop slur of malapropisms and Southern sloppiness (he's announced as hailing from Atlanta), we get the impression of a less-than-intelligent man being given a chance to speak aloud his innermost retarded thoughts. For the first 10 minutes of his act, there is barely a giggle from the crowd. Then he gets into a riff about wanting curls in his hair (Jeri first, and then some "S" waves) and suddenly he starts to make sense. The audience rewards him with some polite wit recognition. Too bad he slips back into buffoon mode before he leaves the stage.

Vince Morris: As the most intellectually interesting comic in the set, Vince has his work cut out for him. He eschews hip-hop, the need for bad language, and the constant references toward "ghetto" and "thug" life (guess Ms. Marlo won't be knockin' boots with this brother any time soon). Instead, he goes for the socially relevant and culturally incorrect. He's more of a motivational or inspirational speaker than a stand-up comic, as his "jokes" get more applause than laughs. By the time he is finished deconstructing the entire black experience in America for the last 50 years, you expect him to receive some manner of standing ovation. He gets it, but it's more in sheepish recognition of his logic than his rib-tickling tendencies.

Ralphie May: Leave it to the fat white kid to bring down the house, doing everything his black counterparts wouldn't dare. If you've seen Mr. May on TV, then you haven't seen Ralphie's true comic strengths. He is a post-millennial Don Rickles without his Ritalin, an insult comic who doesn't believe in being politically correct, just "correct." In essence, Ralphie takes the typical stereotypes (Mexicans pile too many people into a car, blacks are violent and shiftless) and turns them into extremes of near-surreal silliness. He is race-baiting for sure, playing up every canard that has been used to keep minorities down over the generations while arguing that he's merely telling the "truth," but by the time he takes on the homosexuals and their "theft" of the rainbow, he has the crowd in the palm of his pudgy hand. They love Ralphie and greet his exit with the loudest applause of the entire evening.

That's it—five comedians (really four-and-a-half since Ms. 'Nique does not get her own showcase) and a limited amount of chortles. Ralphie May does indeed steal the show and Vince Morris provides enough food for thought to keep his audience full for a while, but the rest of this mediocre mess is like a substrata version of BET's classic Comic View. In one hour of that TV treat, you will laugh more readily and reliably than during most of The Big Black Comedy Show. The DVD is nothing special, either. There are no bonus features and the 1.33:1 full-screen transfer is all digital-to-film fuzziness (not a lot of sharpness in this image). About the only decent technical aspect is the crystal clear (and occasionally pumpin') Dolby Digital Stereo. For a live concert, there is an intimacy to the performance that's captured expertly here.

If you're looking for something to tickle your ribs or bust your gut, The Big Black Comedy Show: Volume 2 will definitely come up short in the sidesplitting department. It's further proof of the sorry state of ethnic humor. Here's hoping that Sir Richard is reincarnated as a young and hungry comic sometime soon. His art form desperately needs him.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Performance

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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