The Return of the (often reluctant) Undisputed King of Comedy
Netflix just released a new special celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Def Comedy Jam (which was a show aired on HBO who must have been really gracious to share the clips).
I won’t lie, I watched every episode of every season of Def Comedy Jam when it was still on television. Russell Simmons might be a bit of a complicated guy but he has been singularly responsible for getting me into Hip-Hop in the 80’s (Run DMC, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J., and many more) and the producer of my favorite comedy show ever (aka Def Comedy Jam).
Yes, DCJ was sometimes (always) inappropriate, anything but politically correct, and often extremely homophobic (which did bother me a great deal then and now). But it also always featured brutally honest comedy from comedians with no pretenses and it was always really funny. I can’t think of many American comedians of color today who are famous but were never on DCJ (Eddie Murphy was famous before DCJ).
There were a TON of funny moments and it was amazing to see Martin Lawrence, Adele Givens (who also absolutely killed it), Joe Tory, and Sheryl Underwood (and cut-aways to other DCJ stalwarts like Earthquake). Eddie Griffin had one of the best single moments of the night (with a great subtle Michael Jackson joke) and the ‘women of DCJ’ clip package/roundtable was outstanding as well.
I Probably should give Katt Williams some credit too because he managed to boil our current President down to his very ‘essence’ in less than 30 seconds.
There was also a well-deserved short tribute to the late great Bernie Mac (and If you haven’t seen The Original Kings of Comedy movie, I would strongly suggest you at least watch Bernie closing the show RIP).
But there was only one king of the evening and his name was Dave Chappelle:
There was what looked like it was supposed to be a 2 minute scripted bit between DL Hughley and Dave that went off the rails in the best possible way. If you have not seen the special yet make sure you watch Dave go on what ended up being a ten minute brilliant freestyle routine about Charlottesville, speech, and protest.
There are very few people in the world who can, in a room full of comedians, destroy a house like Chappelle did (on the Netflix version watcb at least from the point where Kid Capri busts in until the very end of the bit):
Seriously, if you only watch this one bit, you will be glad you did. Dave might have been a bit drunk but he was so funny that by the end he had the whole room singing along to his rendition of Schoolhouse Rock.
Let us not forget that Dave Chappelle, before he decided to do his vanishing act, was responsible for two of the best Comedy specials ever produced, one of the funniest two seasons of a sketch show in history, and recently hosted one of the best and most dangerous episodes of Saturday Night Live in recent memory.
I am not going to pretend that his recent Netflix specials were anything but uneven, but they were occasionally VERY funny and after this appearance, I suspect the best is yet to come.
Dave is still the only comedian I know of who can create his own shot and still bring the house down (as much as I love Chris Rock and Louis CK, their style of comedy relies entirely on careful construction and establishing rhythm).
All Hail The King!
Thank you for coming out, God bless you, goodnight.
Josh is a blogger and freelance writer who writes about television, movies, music, politics, ethics, and whatever else is of interest coming across his feed.