"Where we goin' daddy?"
I've been on quite a roll lately when it comes to urban entertainment. It all began a few months back when I reviewed Friday After Next for the site; it was the start of a streak of viewing urban discs, all of which I found enjoyable. After a time, as white as I am, I found myself believing that I was someone who really enjoyed this genre of entertainment, and that I was open enough to get all the jokes. I am sad to report that my streak has ended after viewing this disc, a standup routine from comedian D.L. Hughley. Is it that there are some things I don't get? Is it that I wasn't in the mood for his brand of humor? Is it that he's not a funny comedian? Or is it that I just don't care for his brand of humor? I'm inclined to believe the simplest answer of them all: I just don't care for his type of humor.
Filmed on location in Indianapolis sometime in mid-2002, Hughley goes on a rapid-fire assault of all the hot button news headlines of the day: President Bush, 9/11, Enron, Martha Stewart, the crematorium affair in Georgia, and so on. Joke after joke is thrown at you with nary a breath in between. He attacks each subject and cunningly outlines the differences between blacks and whites in each situation. For example, and I won't even try to tell it as a joke, he reminds us that any black man caught robbing as little as $3.50 from someone will spend time in jail, but the white folks who ran Enron and lost billions of dollars will never see the inside of a jail cell. His entire routine is based on very harsh, urban humor that loves to illustrate the differences between the two cultures. As such, I found much of his humor dark and not accessible, though it's very poignant and occasionally funny. More often than not, I was uncomfortable and not having a good time—even though I've done nothing wrong…but here I am feeling like I need to defend myself. Hughley surrounded himself on stage with pictures of the most famous of black comedians—Redd Foxx, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, and Eddie Murphy—and you can see how his style has evolved from them, some more than others. D.L. mostly follows the Pryor and Murphy school where the humor is more effective when laced with, shall we say, more colorful metaphors. I don't mind cursing, but he seems simply to curse because he can. It's not always used to drive home a point or emphasize part of the joke; it seems he just uses it because those words are as natural to him as the word "the."
This routine, specifically developed by Hughley for the Urbanworks Platinum Comedy Series, is a jarring affair when compared to my previous encounter, Dave Chappelle: Killin' Them Softly. Unlike Chappelle's disc, Hughley's video feels unnatural and staged. It's not smooth, with jokes logically flowing from one to another. Instead, it's an edited mess with disjointed and choppy transitions, which is further compounded by the awkward and frequent pans to the audience. His act doesn't convey the idea that this is a recording of a live, stand up act, but, instead, it appears as a choreographed number.
The video transfer leaves me in a bit of a conundrum, as I'm not completely certain of its ratio. I could not find any information on the packaging, on any online retailer, nor on the studio's website. Thus, I'm inclined to believe it's full frame, like the Chappelle title; however, when viewing it on my widescreen TV, Hughley looked out of proportion so I switched to my "widescreen mode" where he looked "better." Hence, I'm not certain, but I'll stick with full frame. Regardless, the video is quite disappointing with a palette that is too dark and a picture that is too grainy. Also, in the long camera shots, the picture goes slightly out of focus. Additionally, every five minutes or so, an odd pixelization/artifact error pops up near the bottom center of the picture; if I were to squint hard enough, I'd think it said "For Promotional Use Only." For the audio, the 5.1 Dolby Digital track is also a letdown because of the slightly muffled dialogue and completely artificial use of the surrounds. There are a handful of previews for other Platinum Comedy Series titles, if you're so inclined give them a spin.
There was very little for me to enjoy in this disc. I found the transfers lackluster, and I found Hughley's routine not to my taste. As such, I cannot recommend this one for either a rental or a purchase, for I believe there is far better urban entertainment to choose from.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Ventura Distribution
• Previews for Additional Platinum Comedy Series Titles: Bruce Bruce, Eddie Griffin, Cedric II, Steve Harvey, Michael Colyar, Alex Thomas, Shaq II, and Dave Chappelle
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