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Charle Murphy: I Will Not Apologize
Ever since seeing Charlie Murphy rocket to a great deal of fame on "Chappelle's Show" with his now infamous stories regarding Rick James and Prince, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Where has Charlie Murphy been all these years?" Now six years since re-introducing the world to the insanity that was Rick James, Charlie gets his own stand-up special. Fear not skeptics, Charlie's routine is nowhere near an imitation of his brother Eddie's, but at the same time, doesn't quite hit the memorable levels as his appearances on television.
The first thing that jumps out at viewers is Charlie's thankfulness of having a shot at stand-up fame. He's also very appreciative of the support of those around him, as evidenced by his glowing words for his friend, who apparently opens for him on tour. Once all the pleasantries are side though, it's time for a one-hour routine. To his credit, Charlie goes in the opposite direction of his brother, and not once did I ever get the impression he tried to mimic any of his brother's success. Murphy is a very talented storyteller, so his opening bit about a fight he and his friend had with a very large eyed gentleman in Europe, sets the tone for the evening in a positive direction. The story is a good blend of fact with the trademark embellishment that pushed the Rick James and Prince stories of previous years over-the-edge in terms of their humor factor.
Unfortunately, the whole evening doesn't consist of these stories and Murphy soon moves into a more standard act of social commentary. His musings on the male ego have some noteworthy originality to them, despite the subject being rather tired from a comedy standpoint. His following bit on H.F.R's (High Functioning Retards) influence on society, ends up being a single base hit, rather than a home run. The biggest problem, is Murphy's overselling of his material. He often over explains his point or goes for a far too obvious punch line. It's still enjoyable material, but not stuff I found myself laughing at.
I can say, you'll likely have a smile on your face for the entire duration of the program, despite the end product being too big for it's own shoes. The 60-minute run time really makes the average bits stand out and as a result, the gems, end up getting mixed in between. Also detrimental are the dated references. A nice riff on Dog the Bounty Hunter had me laughing, but feels like it would have been far more topical a couple years back. Likewise, his proclamation that Britney Spears was acting crazy because the ghost of Rick James possessed her, made me pause to think how long ago that Spears' odd behavior was headline news. The one topical bit that did have me laughing pretty hard, was Murphy's deadpan suggestion that celebrities who have racist/bigoted meltdowns go to rehab run by Jigsaw from the "SAW" series.
When Murphy does wrap up his set, with one quick, funny jab at his brother, I was left feeling entertained but unfulfilled. I definitely see Murphy having a future in standup, if he can drop the topical heavy humor and go more into the day-to-day social commentary that he opens with. Finally, I will give Murphy much credit for not being crude for shock value. Murphy uses a deal of profanity, but nothing screamed out to me as being used to draw attention to himself, the way Eddie did in the 80s. Charlie instead, takes the high road and makes a larger effort to be clever, even if it doesn't work out perfectly.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is more than adequate for a live stand-up special. Contrast is handled well, considering the overall lighting scheme of the stage. Color levels appear to be well balanced, while detail is a more middle of the road affair. No glaring technical defects were present.
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio track does a great job of broadcasting Murphy's act without distortion or loss in clarity. It's very well mixed on Murphy's end, while crowd noise is a bit quieter than most stand-up DVDs. As a result the 5.1 track never lives up to it's potential. A standard English 2.0 track is available as well.
In the extras department, we get a handful of outtakes, featuring bits from Murphy's act recorded at smaller venues, that didn't make it into this final cut. They are a good mix of social commentary and topical musings. The longest is a previously untold Rick James story; it's not as solid as his previous James stories, but still very funny, but obviously too long for the final special. The quality of these clips is hit or miss. Finally, in the same area are the Leroy Smith vignettes Murphy filmed for Nike.
Charlie Murphy doesn't need to apologize for "I Will Not Apologize." He has proven himself to be his own man, willing to still put in the hard work, even after 20 years of working in movies and TV, in smaller roles. In all honesty, his performance here as a whole, is a B-, but the humility he shows and the risks he takes in his act to establish himself as a standup, get him the extra boost to a solid B. If you were a fan before, this is a solid purchase, for everyone else, it's a must rent. Rent It.