On this day in comedy in 2000 The Original Kings of Comedy was released by Paramount Pictures.
Directed by Spike Lee this game changing comedy concert film stars comedians D. L. Hughley, Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac. Before its premiere three of the four were on TV shows; two self-titled. After the premiere all parties were millionaires, stars and had TV shows.
Shot over two nights (February 26th & 27th 2000) at Charlotte, North Carolina’s Charlotte Coliseum, The Original Kings of Comedy was a culmination of a successful tour (Actually the second leg. The first had Guy Torry as host and no D L Hughley) which had surprised industry types, but left African-American audiences who’d eagerly anticipated this combination in stitches. The performances showed each headlining comic at his best as well as their behind-the-scenes antics back stage, around town and on the basketball court.
Steve Harvey was MC; a role made for his quick wit and grounded style. He curses, pokes fun at audience members and sings. D L Hughley is up next with bits about Black families, the difference of Black people and White people and ghetto games. Cedric the Entertainer talks about the anger of a potential Black president (pre-Barack Obama) regarding sexual indiscretion. He also dives head on into routines about sports, ghetto life, migration, growing up and Jamaican music. The show is topped off by Bernie Mac who riffs on the joys of disciplining children in crude, blunt terms and about his sex life and decreased desire for lengthy sessions. The pivotal bit was one about raising his sister’s kids and how he dealt sternly with them. The truth was Bernie Mac had no sister, but the routine was perfect to build a show around and The Bernie Mac Show was born.
The formula spawned a number of spin-offs: The Queens of Comedy, The Original Latin Kings of Comedy, The Kims of Comedy, The Comedians of Comedy, The Killers of Comedy and The Blue Collar Tour. This brainchild of producer, Walter Latham, The Original Kings of Comedy was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a Chicago Film Critics Association Award. Shot on a budget of $3 million the film grossed $38,182,790 domestically.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton