This HBO comedy series throws down a huge gauntlet, then flails its limbs around maniacally in a futile attempt to live up to the challenge. Bad Boys of Comedy is billed as an evolution of black comedy that builds on the revolution led by the likes of Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. P. Diddy, executive producer and host, promises young, edgy and unique comics, untapped virtuosos who will push the boundaries of humor and entertainment. What a crock.
I watched all nine 30-minute episodes in this second season, and I laughed aloud three times — one guffaw and two chuckles. More importantly, I heard something fresh and insightful once, from one comic out of 36. That’s not exactly what I’d expect from a comedy revolution.
Where Richard Pryor opened up a brave new world of race comedy, relying on heavy use of expletives and social insight, the “rising stars” in P. Diddy’s show just swear a lot while they roll out new versions of old jokes. There’s also a big emphasis on homophobic humor, and plenty of racism toward other ethnicities, among them Indians, Chinese and Japanese. Pick any episode on this two-disc set, and I guarantee you’ll hear at least three comics kick off with some form of, “what is up with the gays? F**k that sh*t!” followed by a rousing parody of your local chinese food restauranteur. Revolutionary stuff, eh?
Between each comic’s set, we see a few seconds behind the scenes with a mumbling Puff Diddy, who generally offers props to the guys coming off the stage and eggs on the next guy. Puff didn’t have much to say, though, when one his hand-picked, up-and-coming comics sidesteps the easy jokes and gets serious about being black in America. In the one shining moment of this entire second season, the comic says how hard it is to be black. I’ll paraphrase: “Did you know I can lose my blackness? If I don’t wear the right clothes, or talk like a ‘playa,’ my own brothers will tear me down.” Then, in a beautiful shot at Diddy’s own Sean John clothing line, the same comic says, “I want to wear wrinkle-free, teflon dockers! But if a ‘nigga’ catches me near the dockers display at the store I have to kick down the mannequin and yell angrily, ‘where the f**k the Sean John at?'”
Since each comic has only six or seven minutes to do his thing, this guy was cut too short. On the other hand, it helped not to have to listen to more from the rest of the acts, which for the most part had outlived their welcome 60 seconds after they hit the stage.
Presented in 1.66:1 widescreen, enhanced for 16×9 televisions, The Bad Boys of Comedy: Season Two looks just fine on DVD. The nine episodes are spread over two discs, and they offer a solid transfer that’s on par with your typical HBO release. Everything is consistent and suitably detailed, but there’s nothing special on display here.
You’ll hear the show via Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, which also offers typical TV-to-DVD quality. All dialogue is perfectly audible, but the soundtrack lacks punch. Admittedly, that’s not too important with a series of stand-up comedy performances. Nothing here will get in the way of your enjoyment — or lack thereof.
Audio is English-only, as are the available subtitles.
Just one little featurette, Backstage with P. Diddy. At about five minutes, this interview is mildly informative, as Diddy talks about the show, how they found the comics and even addresses hard-hitting questions like, “what was your most embarrassing moment?” What is this, teen scene magazine?
So I didn’t much care for The Bad Boys of Comedy, especially since it claims to be the revolution of black comedy. I’d watch old Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy performances over this junk any day. Still, I suppose the series deserves some credit for giving aspiring comics a shot at the bigtime.