Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam

Russell Simmons, founder of the pioneering rap-music label Def Jam Records, is overseeing this showcase for young, largely unknown comedians, most of them African-Americans. The Def Comedy Jam is intended to expose cable subscribers to cutting-edge hip-hop humor. You might recognize host Martin Lawrence from his appearances in Kid ‘N Play’s House Party movies; he’s a smooth, assured performer whose own brief routine about the sexual stereotyping of blacks

is sharply amusing. Lawrence introduces each performer, and in the shows I’ve seen, just about all the comics are fitfully funny and aggressively obscene, taking full advantage of cable TV’s four-letter-word freedom. One of the best is Derrick Fox, a young fellow who’s developed a hilarious alter ego — a ditzy female vogue dancer, Shante — but whose hip-hop references may be a little obscure for the general viewer: ”My mama used to say, ‘God don’t like ugly,”’ says Fox at one point. ”Well, if God don’t like ugly, Biz Markie is the Antichrist.” If you don’t know rapper Markie — well, it’s a pretty funny line, trust me. B

Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam
  • TV Show