A royal gas

Spike Lee captures a few soulful nights of comic mayhem.



Comedian Steve Harvey (of WB’s “The Steve Harvey Show”) sways, all caught up in the crooning and wailing of a favorite ’70s slow jam. The audience sways with him. For Harvey, the king of The Original Kings of Comedy, the Charlotte Coliseum’s sound system becomes a king-size stereo converting the 20,000-seat arena into his inner court, a time machine to “back in the day” powered by the music.

Harvey holds forth, a valedictorian of the “old school,” an archbishop of the church of love. He calls on his congregation to remember an age when songs were about skin wet with the sweat of lovemaking, not the blood of bullet wounds. Director Spike Lee (Summer of Sam) focuses on the king’s subjects: black folks dancing and singing along with Harvey. They know every word. Lee also turns his camera on the front rows where scattered white spectators smile politely or look puzzled or bored, people of another realm.

But is Kings funny? I laughed until I cried. D.L. Hughley’s (ABC-TV’s “The Hughleys”) comedy is more transcendent than dependent upon race and class. Harvey and Cedric “The Entertainer” (“The Steve Harvey Show”) call up the hood with their urban remembrances and observations.

Bernie Mac (Life) is the most potentially offensive. His set is a straight-no-chaser send-up of sex and family dysfunction, with a hooked-on-Ebonics primer on the grammatical usages of the word “muthafuckah.” Mac is either refreshingly or revoltingly politically incorrect, depending on your taste. Lee magically admits movie audiences into the Coliseum to catch the closing nights of the show.

If your hands tighten around the wheel of your car the moment you head south of the Eight Mile Road border, you’ll probably enjoy Kings about as much as a homeboy would Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might be a Redneck if. ...” The Kings rule a separate but still unequal black nation buried under the American Dream’s groove. They maintain an open-door immigration policy with only one exception. King Harvey explains as he breathes in the soul of his favorite love ballad: “If you can’t feel this ... you don’t need to be here.

James Keith La Croix writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.