"The Original Kings of Comedy" has more to do with great comedy than Spike Lee's direction. It is a simple, straight forward record of four hugely talented African-American comedians, Steve Harvey, DL Hughley, Cedric The Entertainer and Bernie Mac, as they bring the house down in Charlotte, North Carolina, on one particular evening. That show was part of the highest grossing comedy tour in history, which remains one of the best kept secrets in showbiz. Apart from anything else, it is wonderfully uplifting to witness an audience grinning, shouting, and leaping in a state of rapture and delight.
The comedians themselves all share a knack for creative silliness, which of course always has a real target, and whether the jokes concern a loser criminal (a black man in Nashville), a black pilot in charge of the space shuttle (one-arm over the seat, one hand on the controls, music blaring), or Kool and the Gang playing on board the "Titanic", the material and the performances are first-rate. Particularly engaging is the cheeky-chappie demeanour of Steve Harvey, who is not only one of the comic kingpins but the compere to boot.
Of course, the performance movie restricts a director, who usually films both the show itself and what's going on out back. In fact, Spike Lee opts to show little offstage and instead lets his cameras roam around these fine comedians in full flow. His input is really no greater than the director of a television programme which is not drama. Just sit back, chuckle and - with any luck - you'll find yourself in an audience that (like the one on the screen) really rocks.