Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Funny Black People... Or Something Like That

Last night, I was able to feast my eyes and ears on 2 preview episodes of Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-Up, which premieres tonight at 10PM ET/PT on the Starz cable TV network.

I've never watched the show during any of its previous seasons. I wasn't even aware that it was in its 3rd year, which shows just how connected I am to events like these.

It's a 30-minute program, with host Doug Williams, featuring at least 3 different comics hoping to thrill the live audience with their individual stand-up comedy routines.

Nothing new to see here. I've seen enough of these Def Comedy Jam replicas that every new upstart, regardless of who's name is on the marquee (P Diddy dabbled in this arena as well), feels rather dated.

The jokes haven't changed - we are subject to an onslaught of the usual graphic "dick/pussy/fuck" jokes, with a sprinkle of "let's make fun of the white people in the audience" triteness thrown in, and the occasional, usually crass "fat people" humor. Some comedians get their jollies by simply insulting other groups of people, as one did in the previews I watched last night, chosing Mexicans as the target of his insensitive cracks! I could only shake my head and sigh.

Are we running out of source material? I certainly hope not!

Not that the jokes aren't funny. Some are; but most are not!

I haven't been to a comedy club in years, even though my hometown, New York City, is bursting with them. So, maybe I'm just not in the proverbial loop of things, possibly made even more evident by the fact that the live audiences on both preview shows I watched erupted in laughter, applause and other physicalities after almost every joke. All I could muster was maybe a grin.

There might be something to a friend's suggestion that being physically present with each live audience could have made for a completely different experience, as there might be something contagious about that kind of mass exhilaration! Maybe... but I doubt it. I just didn't think most of the jokes were particularly fresh. One or two crude "dick/pussy/fuck" jokes could be funny, but that shit gets old quickly! And, while I'm certainly not averse to the use of foul language, the careless, repeated utterance of the "N" word did make me cringe a little.

So, we can probably gather from all I've said that I'm probably not the target audience for shows like this. Clearly there's an audience for them, as indicated by what looked like sold-out seats at each recording.

The man behind the curtain, Martin Lawrence, was present, although he didn't perform as some may have hoped he would, instead choosing to enjoy preferred box seating, with the occasional reference by the host, followed by a director's camera close-up of his spectacled, smiling grille, waving to the camera. He thankfully doesn't adopt Russell Simmons's usual, expected send-off at the end of each recording of Def Comedy Jam ("thank you all for coming out; God bless and good night"), nor are there any pre and post-show dancers, so I suppose I should give him some "freshness" points for that.

All kiding aside, I should give the man credit for giving a group of mostly unknown black comics a shot at potential stardom!

See it if you must! The show premieres tonight at 10PM ET/PT on the Starz cable TV network. Find out more here:
Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-Up.


  1. Undercover Black Man said...

    I didn't even feel like checking out the second preview ep., Tambay. Seems like ain't a damn thing changed in 15 years since "Def Comedy Jam" started.

    Same ol' jokes, same ol' style.

  2. Anonymous said...

    Three words: "under the influence". One thing I have discovered on my numerous treks to comedy clubs is that there is always a bar. Half the people in the audience are buzzed or wasted before the headliner goes on. Needless to say everything seems funnier with a few cocktails in your

    - P

  3. The Obenson Report said...

    Oh, so that's what's I'm missing. I'll get liquered up and watch them again :o)

  4. Anonymous said...

    I went to the taping of the first one three years ago (Martin's name was not on it then.) They tell you to exaggerate the laughter because you have a better chance of getting on camera. So we laughed at things that were clearly not funny. One of my co-workers saw me cracking up in the audience when the first installment aired. I was ashamed of myself. Oh, and admission to the first one was free. So don't let the crowded theater fool you.

  5. Undercover Black Man said...

    They tell you to exaggerate the laughter because you have a better chance of getting on camera. So we laughed at things that were clearly not funny.

    Ahhh! So that's how they do.

    I just figured a lot of people are easy to please.

    Where are the young ones doing it like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle? (Or Franklyn Ajaye?)

  6. The Obenson Report said...

    *GASP* you mean to tell me it's all a fraud? Haha! I'm being facetious.

    But that's rather sad though - that they feel it's necessary to do that.

  7. Invisible Woman said...

    You are funny TAO :-) I totally feel you.

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