Starz Entertainment Group (SEG) recently threw its hat in the ring in black comedic stand-up programming. The show “1st Amendment Stand-Up” debuted on ‘Starz in Black’ on Oct. 14. It will run on the network every Friday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
The show proudly proclaims to have been shot before a live audience at the Eleven50 Club in Atlanta, Ga. where all 13 episodes were filmed.
“We looked at several markets, including New Orleans before Katrina, but we chose Atlanta and were welcomed with open arms,” said Chelsye J. Burrows, executive director of Corporate Communications for the Starz Entertainment. “We are optimistic it will be
picked up next season after the current 13-episode run.”
Well, I hate to break up this congenial gathering of free speech advocates, but doesn’t this show just mimic the exact same format as HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and BET’s “Comicview” before it?
Among the comics featured in the first 13 episodes: Tommy Chunn (“I Got the Hook Up”), Joey Diaz (“The Longest Yard”) and Thea Vidale (“Thea”).
The series is also hosted by comedian Doug Williams (“Premium Blend”) and is produced and directed by Mike Bohusz. Music is provided by recording artist
and on-air personality DJ Nab.
One of the problems with the show is that its comedians rely far too much on the lowest common denominator to gain its laughs. Foul language replaces a genuine philosophy, and only vague observations about life are made.
For example, in episode one, comedian Gary Owens, who is white, is talking about recently getting married to a black woman from Oakland. He’s the first white guy she has ever been with so in the bedroom…I think you know where this is going.
“When we are in the bedroom, I wonder if I’m putting it down like a brother would.” Owens “jokes.”
I object not to the use of such a blatant and obvious stereotype so much as for the lack of imagination from which it must resurface. Aren’t there funnier things to be said about interracial romance in the new millennium?
Then there’s comedian Griff’s uninspired spiel on “how white’s do things differently than blacks” in episode two. This is a passable, if unoriginal comedic premise, but he segues into it by saying, “When whites lose their pets they put up signs and go door to door to find them with a reward. When blacks lose their dogs we get another one.” That may be true, but where’s the social commentary, keen sense of timing and observation that rises to a level of truly cutting edge?
Some of the most brilliant comics of recent years ?” Chris Rock, Bill Hicks, and George Carlin ?” have dealt with taboo words and concepts. But they also brought an insight to them that helped us see how we regard them. “1st amendment Stand-up” may eventually transcend beyond its juvenile mocking and negative stereotyping but for now, its revolution has yet to be televised.