Daily Show star stands up and out
After an amusing intro from fellow Daily Show correspondent John Hogdman, Cenac dives right in to give the audience an idea of what to expect from him, and that's an act that blends a geeky point of view with a sharp intellect and a relaxed delivery, as well as a willingness to both be silly and venture into the darker realms, but with the ability to keep such matters light and funny. His bits about racism verge on brilliant, whether he's talking about Smurfs and the N-word or just his observations about being black. There's a touch of young Bill Cosby to his presentation (and not just because he does a great imitation of the man's pudding pop nuttiness.)
Though his act is loaded with memorable bits, including his ruminations on Rosa Parks sitting in first class without a ticket, his thoughts on class reunions and his ideas about Jews co-opting ethnic slurs, the one place Cenac could use some work is on his flow. There's a lack of rhythm that, combined with his somewhat low-energy delivery, prevents the laughs from building momentum. There's plenty of them to be certain, but they are a bit more rat-a-tat than a steady stream. Part of it may be the stories Cenac threads though his act, which are a bit more winding than your average stand-up joke, but then, they are far funnier than your average stand-up joke.
As noted before, there's a lot of good stuff in this special, but the highlights are particularly enjoyable, starting with his extended segment about television, including how great TV is, and his lack of patience for those who "hate" TV to the point where they don't even own one. Playing off the camera on the stage, he's so natural and funny that you'd think this was his 10th stand-up special, not his first. His stories about Medieval Times and PETA are similarly hilarious, as is his origin of the Tea Party. The Tea Party segment is actually the smoothest of his whole set, as he slides in and out of jokes while telling one very funny through story. More of this, and Cenac will easily take his spot at the head of the comedy kids table.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack offers the kind of tight audio presentation you want from a stand-up act, putting Cenac in the center channel, while the audience gets the surround speakers (along with some echo from Cenac's voice. The feeling is wonderful, as you get to be right in the middle of the crowd, enjoying some distortion-free comedy.
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