The title of this stand-up comedy DVD is, of course, a reference to Kings Of Comedy. It's the kind of marketing trick that may sound like a rip-off but in this case it most definitely is not. Before They Were Kings Volume 1 features five to six minute sets of some of the best Black comedians around taped some fifteen to twenty years ago before some of them became major headliners and some of them kind of vanished off the radar.
There is not a single set on this comedy DVD that feels like filler. Each standup, even those you are less familiar with because they have moved backstage to become writers or directors, gives a killer performance. The best of an absolutely solid collection is Michael Winslow of Police Academy fame who starts off his set dress as Jimi Hendrix and performs the American national anthem as heard at Woodstock and closes with a great Led Zeppelin bit.
Other funny bits feature a young, flat-topped Chris Rock who does men versus women jokes and comments on white folks' dirty magazines. Steve Harvey does an original bit on how country music and soul music have the same roots and has this great line: "If you don't understand a country song? You're retarded!"
Before They Were Kings, Volume 1 also features a slim but still funny George Wallace. This is where the fact these Evening At The Improv moments show their age with references to Orson Welles' wine commercial. You also get a bit of a time capsule feel with Arsenio Hall's references to Michael and Leon Spinks is a still humorous set.
Most of the audience will be familiar with Steve Harvey and D.L. Hughley but other Black comics like Charles Cozart -who performs in a very deadpan I look like a crook style-will make you laugh with his take on Rainman as a pimp. There's also Special K. McCray, Kal Clarke, and Happy Cole there to be rediscovered.
This is one of the few cases where a stand-up comedy DVD featuring some old sets has not aged a bit. This is a solid, solid release.
Other Various Stand-Up Comics Reviews
Play The Word - Volume 1: Merril Markoe, Rob Cohen, Julie Rottenberg, Adam Zweibel, Beth Lapides, Winnie Holzman, George Meyer
Play The Word - Volume 2: Jay Kogen, Cindy Chupack, Eric Gilliland, Beth Lapides, Julia Sweeny, Cindy Camponera, Rob Cohen
Before They Were Kings Volume 2: an interesting though not a must have stand-up comedy DVD.
The Big Black Comedy Show Volume 1: The Big Black Comedy Show Volume 1 is a very solid comedy DVD
The Big Black Comedy Show Volume 2: Big Black Comedy Volume 1 is far superior to this comedy DVD
Laffapalooza 5: not the best of the bunch but quite decent nonetheless
Laughing Matters: Bad director! Bad director!! Someone take her splicing kit away, now!
Drive By Comedy: a pretty good sample style audio book comedy CD
The Naughty Show Bad Girls Of Comedy: Kim Cea, Stella Stolper, Lisa Ann Walter, Kate Rigg, Shayma Tash, Robin Montague. Ex adult film star director, limp product, no money shot.
World's Greatest Stand-Up Comedy Collection: World's greatest stand-up comedy DVD collection. They are all there.
Redneck Comedy Roundup: skip over the many Engvall tracks and enjoy the other stand-up comics
Invite Them Up: 4 hours on 3 comedy CDs and 1 DVD, hard to beat
Open Mic: behind-the-scenes documentary about the stand-up comedy biz
Man Alive - CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival: CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival show John Wing Jr, Glen Foster, others
Just For Laughs Vol 1 Best of The Uptown Comics: Uptown Comics Volume 1 is an excellent stand-up comedy DVD.
Just For Laughs Stand-Up Vol 2 On The Edge: Comedy Festival gala performances by comedy's edgiest,funniest
The Good,The Bad, And The Drugly: Major stand-up comedy artists do very different stuff.
Un-Cabaret - The Un & Only: Decent not quite comedy CD
10,000 Laughs : Best of the Boston Comedy Festival: Very good stand-up comedy CD features 16 stand-up comics and not a bad set in the bunch.
Comedy Death-Ray: A different comedy concept 2 CD set with Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, David Cross, and many others.
Cutting Edge Comedians of the 60s and 70s DVD - Capsule Review: Great Stand-up comedy TV clip collection.
Cutting Edge Comedians of the 60s and 70s - Full Review: DVD with rare TV clips of comedy greats like Cosby, Newhart, Carlin, etc
Indian Invasion Comedy: Buffet style DVD featuring Mark Saldana, Bijai Nathan, Rajiv Satyal, Dalia, and Vidur Kapur.
Katt Williams presents Katthouse Comedy: Ordinary stand-up comedy DVD with Red Grant, Luenell, and Melanie Comarcho
National Lampoon Live Un-Scripted with Frank Caliendo: Buffet style stand-up comedy CD with Frank Caliendo, John DiResta, Bert Kreischer, Tess, and Steve Byrne
Comics Without Borders - Season One: Russell Peters hosts 18 comics in stand-up comedy variety pack
Best of Montreal Comedy: Good variety pack of up-and-coming Montreal comics
Yuk Yuk's Guide To Canadian Stand-up: Yuk Yuk's owner presents the history of Canadian stand-up comedy in must have 5 CD audio book set featuring more than 50 stand-up comics.
The Awkward Comedy Show: Buffet style stand-up comedy DVD featuring 5 nerdy Black comics
A 420 Friendly Comedy Special: Very good comedy but not as much pot as you'd expect.
Comedy Juice All-Stars: Very good compilation from Stand Up! Records aside from Eddie Pepitone