The Kings, for the uninitiated, are four black stand-ups, who toured together to sell out audiences across the States. Spike Lee's concert film shows each in turn doing his thang, with occasional, brief backstage chat as punctuation between the routines. The on-screen audience, in Charlotte, N Carolina, is predominantly black and wildly enthusiastic. So is it exclusively a black thing, or does comedy cross colour boundaries? Well, colour difference figures large as a subject. A subversive routine imagining a black Titanic hits home, but the opening riff on a local NFL player will bemuse most British audiences. When two of the comics fix on the incongruous thought of a black man flipping out and going on a gun-crazy killing spree, you have to think that colour might be less of a barrier than social difference. American culture rarely seems parochial, but judicious pruning for international audiences could have sharpened the effect. As for that 'original' tag, only Bernie Mac brings anything very different to the table, with his confrontational persona and insistence on saying the unsayable. This is comedy with a sense of showmanship, and Lee cuts shrewdly to the rhythm of the jokes.
Cast and crew
Cedric the Entertainer