DAR Comedy: 10 Black Standup Comedy Specials Of The 2000s
The 2000s were an interesting decade in many ways, with film and music both having golden years and some less than great years. For comedy, it represented most of the same thing. There were a number of talented comedians making their name known during the decade, appearing in movies or holding their own standup special for the masses. Today, I wanted to take a look back at some of those comedians who released standup specials keeping true to the essence of comedy. Let's take a look at 10 of the most important specials of the 2000's.
*Jamie Foxx- I Might Need Security (2002)
-I'll be honest, Jamie Foxx is a jack of all trades, but sometimes his comedic ability tends to get lost in the scheme of things between the acting and the music. So, it comes as no shock that Jamie would release a special that blends multiple talents of his together. Shot at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, this 2002 special showcases Jamie telling jokes, singing, and engaging the crowd throughout to provide them with the ultimate experience. It is more than just a standup special, it's really an all around performance with a little bit of everything involved. Jamie doesn't have much out there in terms of standup comedy, but this is a great watch that feels a bit all over the place, but still rings as fun.
*The Original Kings Of Comedy (2000)
-I still have fond memories of this film, as it was one of the very few standup specials to actually become a national motion picture, handled by Spike Lee nonetheless. The Original Kings of Comedy took D.L. Hughley, Cedric The Entertainer, Steve Harvey, and Bernie Mac, placed them on tour, and gave the world two hours of some of the best comedy possible. While many of us didn't find D.L. funny and a number of people didn't seem to think Steve or Cedric connected as much, Bernie Mac stole the film, with his classic set elevating the entire experience. All four had their moments however, and this standup film felt like a big moment for black comedy.
*Kevin Hart- I'm A Grown Little Man (2009)
-The random consensus now is that Kevin Hart isn't funny, and it has been that way ever since he's become popular. Well, obviously someone finds him to be hilarious, or else his success wouldn't be as big as it is. With that being said, his 2008 standup is actually one of his best, possibly his best of all, and his most honest in a way. Before Kevin reached the new heights of fame, he would release this standup, which felt like a normal yet laugh out loud hilarious display of a family man who can make jokes at his own expense. The self depreciation humor in this special didn't feel forced, and there are moments where you might shed tears laughing. It is a well put together set by Kevin, although it was also one that he recycled on other standup specials to an extent. Still, this is worth a watch.
*Martin Lawrence- Runteldat (2002)
-After the setback, there is the comeback. For Martin Lawrence, the setback seemed to be strenuous. After a hard fall in the public eye, Martin would come back with a successful standup special that made it to the theaters. Shot in Washington D.C., Martin's official hometown, this was a look into the trials and tribulations that Martin went through and how he's managed to survive. It also provides a bit of social commentary about the world and a mostly larger perspective about everything that is going on at the time. Martin crafts a solid set for the most part in this successful film, which grossed nearly seven times the production cost.
*Eddie Griffin- Dysfunktional Family (2003)
-Of all of the specials on this list, this is probably my least favorite, but it's still pretty funny in its own right. Centered around Eddie and his life, this film is a documentary of sorts that shows him going back home to Kansas City for a family reunion in between bits of his actual show. The show itself is funny, as the abrasive comedy style of Griffin works more than it doesn't, and while I prefer his 2011 special to this one, he always keeps it honest and raw, and that's exactly what you'll get here.
*Steve Harvey- Still Trippin (2008)
-I have never been a big fan of Steve Harvey, but I'll admit, this was actually a funny standup, shockingly. Steve teeters the line between abrasive and raunchy comedy and mainstream clean comedy, as evidenced by his prior standup special before this one. Two things were different here. One, Steve got rid of his immaculate box fade, and two, he was a lot looser on stage with his comedy. He would win the audience over with each joke, and while there are a few dry spots in the special, for the most part, Steve doesn't miss and it is probably the last moment of true hilarity that we've seen him have in his career on the stage.
*Mike Epps- Under Rated & Never Faded (2009)
-Mike was never my favorite comedian, and he isn't one of my top comedians to watch, but I'll be more than honest: this special is hilarious. The biggest issue with his comedy is usually his overselling of the jokes and the fact that a lot of the jokes can be hit or miss, but he manages to avoid this pitfall on this special. He keeps it consistent throughout the special and that's all you can ask for. I think this is the best Mike Epps comedy special and it isn't close IMO.
*Katt Williams- The Pimp Chronicles (2006)
-I was never the biggest fan of Katt Williams. I still am not. However, he has one of the most funniest and honest comedy specials of them all with The Pimp Chronicles, which mixes in abrasive jokes with just straight up reality talk, balancing his energy to perfection. Whether he directs his energy towards to the world issues, Michael Jackson, women, or the struggle, Katt actually delivers on this special and it's one of my favorites of the decade, probably in my top 3. This is the peak of the hilarity from Katt Williams.
*Chris Rock- Never Scared (2004)
-While his comedy was more prevalent in the 90's, Chris Rock managed to bring some fire in the 2000s, starting with this 2004 special. It features mostly solid comedy and a few small dry spots, as well as Chris having a segment dedicated to Lil' Jon. While I don't prefer this over some of his other specials, I will give credit where credit is due and say this marked a much welcomed return to standup for Rock, who hadn't released an actual standup special in over 5 years at the time. Still, Never Scared takes elements of what we love of Chris Rock and gives you that plus a little extra. It's worth a watch or two.
*Dave Chappelle- For What It's Worth (2004)
-There are two specials that I could have picked from Chappelle in the decade, but I went with the biggest one in terms of popularity. Dave was riding the biggest wave of his career, and he would receive millions from Showtime to deliver an hour of some of his finest work. While his previous special was a bit better, I still find that this shows Dave as a man unafraid to tackle some touchy subjects, even more controversial than the ones he had touched on in his previous one. Still, this special is responsible for the "Where Is Ja" classic bit and "Grape Drink", so there was no way that I would not mention it.