Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Feast of Saint Martin

My Fellow Comedists,

This weekend, we celebrate the feast of Saint Martin. Martin Lawrence turns 45 today.

There is a long tradition of African-American stand-up comics who were major players in every generation, from Moms Mabley to Redd Foxx, Dick Gregory to Richard Pryor, and of course, Eddie Murphy. But these were outstanding singular voices. Martin Lawrence's material was there at the front end of the wave of contemporary black comedians. Coming out of the D.C. stand-up scene that gave us produced so much great talent like Dave Chappelle and Wanda Sykes, Lawrence developed one of the best ears in comedy with an amazing ability to work to any audience and know exactly where to pitch his material. The result was a run on Star Search and becoming the host of Def Comedy Jams. Martin Lawrence rightly became the face of black stand-up in the 90s.

This success led to an on-going successful career in television and movies, but his heart is clearly in making sure that the edgy urban comedy scene remains healthy. Turning from performer and host to producer, Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment Stand-up brings an outlet for comics whose material is rougher than standard Comedy Central fare. Appearing only seated, waving like royalty from his privileged place, Lawrence no longer dominates the stage, but he still very much present in keeping comedy fresh and alive.

Happy birthday, Martin Lawrence.

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve