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Published on July 8th, 2008 | by Erich Becker


1st Amendment Stand-up (03×01)

It seems Martin Lawrence has finally realized where the money is in Hollywood: producing. Anytime are Lawrence is involved in a project, it’s hit or miss as to whether or not it’ll be a winner. In this case, Martin Lawrence’s First Amendment Stand Up has a lot of the same qualities as a Premium Blend, or Friday Night Standup, but it’s refreshing to see him take such risks on putting so many relatively green comics on such a show.

In the premiere episode of the show’s second season, Doug Williams, host of the show, has the obligatory job of warming the crowd up with a short bit, and unlike the usually underwhelming dusted off material of once greats like Tommy Davidson or Damon Wayans when they have MC duties, Doug hits some great notes with a bit about how relationships are like a football game, with you as starting QB, your girl as head coach, and a guy sittin’ on the bench ready to get into the game. Funny stuff, and he seems to get the ball rolling.

The first comic up is Don “D.C.” Curry; an older comic who’s been a staple in black comedy circles and mainstream clubs for decades. He shows a real understanding of the crowd he’s playing to (which in this case is a 98% black Washington D.C. audience, fitting with his D.C. nickname). He’s able to get some weird mix of topical humor, including pop culture references like when Alec Baldwin cussed out his kid a year or so ago, and put it in the normal “here’s how white people act, and here’s how black folk would handle it” motif.

The second of the two comics showcased for this episode is Rickey Smiley, someone who seems like a relative newcomer, but doesn’t cater to the lowest common denominator that a lot of the younger generation of black comics seem to. His delivery is stories, but interesting in that they are tragedy laden and he delivers them with a relatively serious delivery, admonishing the crowd jokingly for some of their reactions to stories that shouldn’t be funny, but are. It’s an interesting, unique and fresh twist on story telling comedy, and works pretty successfully.

The show itself isn’t going to be groundbreaking. As an outlet for black comics, it’s good that Martin Lawrence is taking risks with putting some relatively unseen talent outside of the black community on a big stage, and he has made some pretty intelligent choices for the show. For one, he’s at each of these episodes in the balcony, so he’s able to really show support for what this program is about. He also only has a few comics in each episode, so unlike other mainstream comedy “specials” on Comedy Central and the like, these comics are able to actually show you more than a two minute snippet of their material.

As a white guy who has watched standup my whole life, I’m able to watch niche comics like black or Hispanic comics, older, younger, etc., and be able to appreciate the whole spectrum of material. If they want a largely black audience, I think that’s what they’re going to get and they should be happy that they’ve nailed the demo. However, if they’re wanting to encourage a large demographic for the show, they have to either have some more diverse comics on the program, or at least encourage material that’s going to translate to wide audiences.


About the Author

Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!

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