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With: Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Bernie Mac
Written by: Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Bernie Mac
Directed by: Spike Lee
MPAA Rating: R for language and sex related humor
Running Time: 115
Date: 08/10/2000

The Original Kings of Comedy (2000)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Funny Throne

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Original Kings of Comedy marks Lee's second attempt at documentary filmmaking (his first was the unforgettable 4 Little Girls from 1997). This time, though, the subject matter offers laughs instead of tears. Covering the most successful touring comedy show of all time, Lee presents the Kings of Comedy: D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac, and emcee Steve Harvey, filmed over a two-day period in Charlotte, North Carolina. Lee shoots the film in a fluid style, giving plenty of coverage to the animated, appreciative audience (directly the opposite of Jonathan Demme's approach on "Stop Making Sense"). All four comics got me giggling, but Hughley was the only one who tickled me till I was out of breath. I can't really say why, though his line about taking a shower with his wife and standing freezing in the back hit home. The film offers more than just yuks, however. As in Lee's best work, the film intelligently discusses race and race relations, though this time through the guise of humor.

Over the course of the film, Lee brings us backstage for a few quick scenes, which really don't add up to much. The spiffy-looking new DVD, however, is another story. It includes several outtakes of both onstage comedy and backstage conversation. A long scene where all four comics discuss their histories and backgrounds is most interesting and illuminating. The package also includes the usual music video and trailer, neither of which is as interesting as the extra footage.

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