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Movie Review

The Original Kings of Comedy

MPAA Rating: R for language and sex related humor

Reviewed by: Hillari Hunter

Extremely Offensive
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1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley and Steve Harvey in “The Original Kings of Comedy”
Featuring: D L Hughley, Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac
Director: Spike Lee
Producer: Walter Latham
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Director Spike Lee presents one of the most profitable comedy concerts, filmed during a performance in North Carolina. Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric The Entertainer and Bernie Mac are popular on the African-American comedy circuit, but they are not well-known to mainstream audiences as stand-up comedians.

Harvey begins the show, and he also serves as the host. One of his best bits happens when he takes the coat of an audience member who makes the mistake of leaving his seat. When the man returns, Harvey launches a heap of insults on him, but tops it off with a smile. Hughley, who also targets unsuspecting audience members as part of his act, tosses off some verbal barbs. Cedric does funny monologues about the habits of cigarette smokers and car drivers. Mac brings up the rear with a story about discipline problems he’s had with his niece and nephews.

The comedy sets are interspersed with segments that show the performers offstage. However, I strongly caution Christian audiences about this film. These comedians appear on fairly clean television programs when they are not on the road. Harvey and Cedric co-star on “The Steve Harvey Show.” Hughley is the head of the house hold on “The Hughleys.” Mac has appeared semi-regularly on “Moesha” as the title character’s uncle. However, the comedians aren’t restricted by the censors in “The Original Kings of Comedy”. When this concert came to my city, I understood that tickets were only for those who were 21 years and older. The foul language and sexual references are definitely NOT for sensitive or young ears. Many of the jokes are also racial in nature. Each of these comedians are very talented, and if you don’t mind graphic language (numbering in the hundreds) you may appreciate this hard-edged comedic documentary. But for most, “The Original Kings of Comedy” will be too edgy.

Viewer Comments
“Original Kings of Comedy”, like many of Director Spike Lee’s films, is laced with both extremely disturbing and raw, insightful moments. This film is to be seen on a couple of levels. On one hand, it’s a stand-up comedy concert film. Most of what is said is extremely offensive—sexually perverse and Bernie Mac’s take on child rearing is extremely troubling. Still, Lee is clearly one of the best contemporary film makers, and this disturbing speech is no accident, I suspect. As a White person, I am shown that there remains much bitterness and anger in the Black community. But there’s humor to match—humor that is clearly a mechanism for processing some of this rage. Bernie Mac’s segment shows much love, I believe, below the anger. And I believe there is some reverence for Jesus there as well—but it was both a funny and painful experience. Do not allow anyone under 18 to view this movie, because the subtle undercurrents will be lost, and the harsh, almost pornographic performance will be what shows through—and that’s probably not what the film makers intend. My Ratings: [1/4½]
—Richard Schmitz, age 44
While “The Original Kings of Comedy” is loaded with profanity and scatological humor I don’t think that it is as bad as it could have been and there are some things that do redeem it. The comedians are very talented and while the comedy is R-rated it isn’t X-rated like many comedians. Not as much of the films’ humor is as raunchy as one would expect; in fact most of the comedy is humorous observations about the difference between black people and white people that I as a white person did not find offensive. Steve Harvey is the funniest of the bunch and if his comments on James Cameron’s “Titanic” and rap music vs. old school doesn’t have you laughing than you may need to get your funnybone checked. It is noteworthy that Steve Harvey attributed his success to God, states that murder is done by ignorant people, and states that sex without love is absolutely worthless. D.L. Hughley is also hilarious. Cedric the Entertainer is also very funny. My only complaint was Bernie Mac—the final comedian. Mac’s routine was mean-spirited and although he claimed he was only kidding still came across as an attack. While he did have his moments he was too angry and stayed on subjects for too long to be funny. There was in my opinion no need to insult his drug-addicted sister’s kids he is raising although he should be commended for that good deed. Overall, I laughed a lot as these kings of comedy and had a good time at the film. My Ratings: [2/4]
—Andrew, age 24
Movie Critics
…Profanity occurs throughout the entire film and consists of nearly 200 “f” words and literally hundreds of other expletives, along with plenty of graphic, colorful phrases…
…consistently hilarious assemblage of highlights…
—Scott Foundas, Variety
…the Kings tell stories: they draw from their families and childhoods or observations of friends and folks on the street, all embellished by the impressively foul language that kids find so titillating…
—Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters
…relentlessly obsessed with the different ways that black people and white people experience the world that the jokes ultimately pile up into an orgy of racial generalities…
—Steve Harvey, Entertainment Weekly