- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Once upon a time in a place not too far away, there were four self-proclaimed kings of comedy.
The four Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric "The Entertainer" and Bernie Mac now extend their monarchy to movie houses with the help of director Spike Lee's "The Original Kings of Comedy." (The film opened Friday at Washington-area theaters.)
Mr. Lee's film delivers a behind-the-scenes look during two raucous shows last February in Charlotte, N.C., also known as the "Queen City" (the city does take some hits in the movie for being "country"). He sets the stage for each king to tell his tales of race, music, sex and, most of all love.
This isn't humor as hard-edged as Richard Pryor, Chris Rock or even Eddie Murphy. It focuses more on family, church, raising kids, marriage, and how white folks react to a situation as compared with blacks.
First up was Mr. Harvey, he of the WB's "Steve Harvey Show," who served double duty as host. One thing about Mr. Harvey: He has heart and passion. His funniest bits came when he compared old-school love songs (complete with snippets including Lenny Williams' "Cause I Love You") with today's rap music. ("Five Temptations needed only one mike. In these rap concerts everybody's got a mike and you can't understand what they're saying.")
To some topics, Mr. Harvey took the common-sense approach as with the movie "Titanic" ("Why in the world did we sit there and watch that movie. Everybody already knows what happens; get to the water.")
Mr. Hughley who has his own show, formerly on ABC, which moves to UPN in the fall wasn't as polished as Mr. Harvey but delivered some of the brightest routines. He shone like a diamond with his view of blacks and the workplace ("Oh Lord, I gotta go to work again.") and race relations. Mr. Lee would cut to white members of the audience when Mr. Hughley's barbs were fired their way.
Cedric "The Entertainer," a regular on "The Steve Harvey Show," went straight to the dirt. He, too, focused on black music but reggae instead of rap and the future. ("White people think they gonna leave us to head to the moon. We gon' be right behind them driving the space shuttle.")
Cedric also jumped on the difference-between-white-and-black-people bandwagon. On folks sitting in the wrong seats at a concert, Cedric noted that white people hope ('Oh, I hope there isn't any trouble').
Blacks, on the other hand, wish (I wish somebody would be sitting in these seats I paid $38 … ).
Of the four, Bernie Mac, who's a regular on UPN's "Moesha," was the most hard-hitting. With wide-stretched eyes and menacing growls, he looked ready to club the audience into submission. He included bits on smart-alecky kids, black culture and the workplace. ("When white people break, they go eat their cheese sandwich and they are back at their desks; when black people break, they break.")
Judging by audience reaction out of their seats, in the aisles, standing up, swaying to the music, howling in recognition of material that hit home these kings rule.

Three and 1/2 out of four stars
TITLE: "The Original Kings of Comedy"
RATING: R (adult subject matter)
CREDITS: Directed by Spike Lee
RUNNING TIME: 1 hour, 57 minutes

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