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Platinum Comedy Series: Cedric the Entertainer - Starting Lineup 2

Urban Works // Unrated // October 21, 2003
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted October 19, 2003 | E-mail the Author
"I ain't paid no bills in a minute, either. I ain't paid nothin', dog. Anthrax. I got bills just sittin' 'round, dog. Anthrax, anthrax, anthrax, dog. I can't pay it. I tell the phone company, 'Anthrax, sorry. You come open it. You come open it, you so bad.'"

Starting Lineup 2 is the second live comedy DVD from UrbanWorks Entertainment hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, who, in between his own stand-up, introduces viewers to up and coming comedic talents. The other comedians on this volume are Leon Rogers, Nema Williams, Rodney Perry, and Memphis radio personality Prescott Gilliam. The special was taped in the boxing ring at Mississippi's Biloxi Grand Casino, and accordingly, Cedric introduces the other comics Michael Buffer-style, along with boxing commentary, a card girl, and a skit set in the corner that interrupts Williams' performance.

"Rappers got all seen them cats with all that gold and platinum in they mouth? Just There's this one dude from Cash Money named Baby. He's got $100,000 worth of diamonds and platinum in his mouth. What he gotta gargle with, jewelry cleaner?" Cedric's first set begins with an exploration into the psychotic effects of cough syrup and Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston bucking the trend of high-profile celebrity breakups. Aside from speaking into the mic, Cedric spends a lot of time singing, belting out renditions of Peaches and Herb's "Reunited", Ashford and Simpson's "Solid", and "You Don't Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)", even mimicking the rain-drenched, wind-blowin' overwrought emotions of 112 videos, Snoop's completely comprehensible slow raps, and Nate Dogg's operatic stylings. He also chats about sports, including a black pole vaulter at the Olympics and the Williams sisters' twenty-years-out-of-fashion hair beads.

Leon Rogers devotes most of his set to riffing on music, from Bin Laden rapping with Tupac ("brothers be ridin' camels with twenty-inch humps") to eco-conscious white boy groups to rappers' beefs and aggression. "Now, DMX, that's my boy, but he need a hug, for real, 'cause on his last song, he cheated the hell out of everybody. He gonna sing for two minutes, and then, like, he so frustrated, he can't think o' no words for the last three minutes of the song. You know that new song? 'The pain, the drama, the baby, the mama...duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh.' You better sing the rest of the damn song for $16.99, nigga!" Nema Williams, the most familiar face on this disc aside from Cedric himself, starts off with a story about how a bottle of Hennessey snagged him a new car. He also talks about growing up in Oakland, and how he tried to hide the fact that he liked "doin' white boy shit", like slamming against frat boys while a thrash metal band pounds away. The next comedian, Rodney Perry, is the sort of physical comic that's next to impossible to do justice with a text-heavy review. He drags himself around on stage with his arms, quipping that most men don't care about a girl's legs, demonstrates the difference in sensitivity with various breast sizes, tosses himself on his ass repeatedly, and mimics Bob Dole's plummet from a stage at a campaign rally. The final comedian -- and the only one who isn't preceded with a set by Cedric -- is Prescott Gilliam. His starts off talking about his thug mother, who reused her broken microwave as a cabinet and taught him karate moves in a strip mall parking lot, later moving onto jokes about styling hair and ironing clothes for the recently departed at a funeral home. Most of his set is dedicated to graphic jokes about sex, which are kind of hit-or-miss.

Video: Starting Lineup was shot on video and is presented full-frame. There are no authoring concerns -- edge haloing, artifacting, or anything like that -- but the original photography presented some issues. For one, the special is lit very darkly, and some details, such as most of Cedric's trademark hat, disappear into the background. The image doesn't have a razor-sharp appearance, not exactly seeming soft, but lacking the sort of crispness and clarity I generally expect from DVD. Contrast appears kind of blown out in the opening "Beat It" homage as well.

Audio: As seems to be the norm for UrbanWorks product, this second Starting Lineup volume sports a simulated Dolby Digital 5.1 track (448Kbps), spreading essentially the same audio into five different speakers. Yup, when Ced's on stage, you hear him in the left, center, right, and both surrounds simultaneously, which is kind of annoying. The performers all come through clearly, which is obviously the most important thing, and there's a tremendous amount of bass when the music kicks in.

There are no subtitles, closed captions, or alternate soundtracks.

Supplements: The only extras are previews for other comedy DVDs from UrbanWorks, including D.L. Hughley, Cedric, Bruce Bruce, Steve Harvey, Michael Colyar, Alex Thomas, Shaq, and Dave Chapelle. Each preview runs a little over a minute in length, presented full-frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio (192Kbps).

The DVD features a set of 4x3 animated menus, with lengthy animations bridging each transition. The special has been divided into nine chapters. The disc comes packaged in a keepcase, and at least with the preview copy I received, no insert was included.

Conclusion: I liked this second Starting Lineup entry in UrbanWorks' Platinum Comedy Series. There's some genuine talent on display, and I laughed more than I usually do when I'm sifting through stand-up DVDs. At the same time, though, and maybe it's just because I'm unbelievably cheap, but I don't think I'd be willing to plunk down fifteen bucks for an hour-long comedy special unless I was a particularly huge fan of the featured comedians. I'd recommend Cedric's Starting Lineup 2 as a rental, but not as enthusiastically as a purchase.

Random Notes: After popping in the DVD, it takes nearly two and a half minutes to be able to navigate the main menu, thanks to forced plugs for other UrbanWorks product, the Platinum Comedy Series banner, and sluggish animated menus. I don't really care if companies feel compelled to pile all that unnecessary stuff onto a DVD, but please make it skippable.

Related Links: DVD Talk also has reviews of other UrbanWorks comedy releases, including Dave Chappelle - Killin' Them Softly and Robert Townsend and His Partners in Crime, Vol. 1, as well as Cedric's The Original Kings of Comedy.
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