Tag Archive: jamie foxx


jamie-foxx-10262010

C’EST LE WEEKEND!!!!

Blame it on the Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Arnold Palmers…

(oh shut it.)

Enjoy!

 

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No song today.  I post this about once a year or so.  It’s the epitome of funny AND wrong.  The Brandon Knight slaughter last night reminded me of this, just in terms of someone getting publicly castrated badly.  Enjoy or feel bad.  Or both.

 

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One of the shows that legitimized Fox as ‘the fourth network’, In Living Color was the brainchild of Keenen Ivory Wayans and his brother Damon.  Forever referred to as the black Saturday Night Live, In Living Color was a primetime sketch/variety show with a much more pronounced African-American slant.  I pity those of you who didn’t live through it when it aired live.  On to the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  As the name implies, the sketches, the musical guests, the Fly Girls were all much more representative of the booming hip hop culture that was taking over young black America.  While SNL and many other comedy troupes usually have one token actor on staff when the need arises to have a black character, ILC could in many ways tackle deeper issues simply because they had so many black actors (look no further than the Star Trek: the Wrath of Farrahkhan sketch).

Legacy:  Pick one from the following list of people, movies, and shows that can be traced back to In Living Color  – one of the biggest comedic A-list actors of the 90s (Jim Carrey), an Academy Award winning black actor (Jamie Foxx), the first person to have a number one movie and album at the same time (Jennifer Lopez), The Wayans Brothers (TV Show), Scary Movie and the rebirth of the slapstick genre that followed the original movies’ success…the list goes on.

Craft:  Still some of the best comedy seen on television (in my humble opinion).  Let me take you back to the first episode:  there was the ‘Love Connection’ episode featuring a dead-on Chuck Woolery (Carrey) interviewing Robin Givens (Kim Coles) about her ‘date’ with Iron Mike Tyson (Keenen under great makeup).  The first episode also featured the first ‘Men on Film’, where Blaine Edwards (Damon) and Antoine Merriweather (David Alan Grier) reviewed films from ‘a male point of view’.  I still remember vividly going to middle school the next day (Monday) and seeing kids doing the ‘two snaps up’ during lunch.  This show was as close to an instant comedy classic as it gets.

Crossover:  In the same way that SNL crossed over, not necessarily; but in terms of sheer popularity there’s no question it was huge.  Fox asked for (and got) an In Living Color halftime show during one of its Super Bowl years.  By that point the sight gag of whatever little hat Damon was wearing in his ‘Men On…’ sketches was hilarious enough.  Keenen walked out during the show’s run not because of ratings failures but because of a contract dispute (isn’t that how it always goes).

Apollo:  The nature of any sketch comedy show is everyone will have a different favorite recurring character/sketch.  I’ve written 400 words and still haven’t mentioned Homey the Clown, Fire Marshal Bill, or Cephus and Reecie.  Personal favorites for me – Sketch: when Hammer was at his peak, they dressed up Tommy Davidson in the balloon pants and had him do ‘Can’t Touch This’.  That visual always busts me up.  Character: slightly under the radar, but Damon did this character named Oswald Bates, an ex-con who loves to use big words but never uses them in the right context (“You see, we must EVACUATE, excuse me, EJACULATE my fluid penetration!”) The militant in me always cracks up at that.

Next on the TV countdown is a show that had an even shorter run but also became an instant classic.  Until next time.

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Richard Pryor is universally recognized as the black comedian who set the stage for the onslaught of African-American stand ups who followed him in the 80s, 90s, and present day.  An argument can be made that there are funnier stand up films by some of the comedians that came after him, but Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip set the standard for almost every black comic stand up film that came after it.

On to the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  While he certainly wasn’t the ‘first’ (Redd Foxx also comes to mind as someone who made a dent in the mainstream), Richard Pryor is held in such high praise by comedians and entertainers alike that it’s hard to imagine someone hitting that level of reverence today, working mostly as a standup.    You don’t need to have an eagle eye to spot a young Jesse Jackson in the crowd during this show, so um, Rich was at the heart of the community to say the least…

Legacy:  Wow.  Where to begin?  On a superficial level, it’s probably not a coincidence that in his first big stand up film Delirious, Eddie Murphy rocks a bright red leather suit that mimics that bright red suit Rich wore in this film.  The way Rich prowls the stage when he delivers his jokes, it’s easy to see Chris Rock mimicing his movements.  Rich’s confession that he’ll stop using the N-word to tear down his people has echoes of the reason Chappelle said he quit his own mega popular show.  Rich’s comedic telling of his nearly life ending episode is definitely reminiscent of Martin talking about his notorious mental breakdown in his own stand up film.  And how about the whole going back to Africa bit that Jamie all but stole word for word for his best standup special from back in the day (though I’ll be the first to admit that bit is still hilarious)?  Safe to say, every black comedian worth his salt watched this film more than once…

Craft:  I make no claims to be a comedian, but watching this film you really appreciate how many different types of comedy Richard Pryor did really, really well.  There’s the straight silliness/the storyteller (the animals in the jungle), the black comedian (the bit about brothers in the pen), and the self-deprecating (the whole bit about lighting himself on fire).  Even the comedians of my generation can usually only master one or two of these skill sets.  Richard Pryor really was the Man.

Crossover:  It wasn’t just black people who loved Richard Pryor of course.  Sequences like his story about working for the Mafia illustrate how Rich’s comedy went well, well past being just a black thing.  He was just one really, really funny motherf—–.

Apollo:  

An all time classic comes in next at #9.  But now that we’re in the top 10 that wasn’t much of a hint was it?  Guess you’ll have to come back later to check it out…

The Soloist

 

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He’s a clown, he’s one of the funniest fools in Hollywood, but movies like The Soloist remind you that Jamie Foxx can really, really act.  This film was originally supposed to come out during awards season; we got a long way to go to get to award season 09 but Jamie’s performance here could easily be one of the better ones I’ll see all year.  It’s always a tricky thing in film to portray someone who is ‘mentally ill’; the medium gives you a lot of leeway in how you portray it, but at the same time if it comes off too cute it can feel patronizing.  I won’t spoil the device used here; I will say I thought they handled it well.

Part of the ‘point’ of the movie seems to be to highlight the plight of the homeless (especially here in Los Angeles).  My second apartment in LA was downtown, so I have my fair share of stories, some funny, some not.  Growing up in the Midwest, homelessness wasn’t something I really had any experience with.  At least not on a mass scale.   I’ve always been sensitive to how delicate life is though; you just don’t know what God has planned for you.

I have a feeling this movie got pushed back because the studio didn’t feel Downey or Foxx had a snowball’s chance in hell of mixing it up with Heath Ledger and Sean Penn last year during the awards push.  And they were probably right.  That doesn’t mean this isn’t an interesting movie about a very real, modern day issue though.