Having seen The Awkward Comedy Show on Comedy Central, I eagerly anticipated the release of the DVD. Although I would be familiar with most of the material, I expected that it would be more enjoyable because there would be no censoring and more material presented. Was I right? Absolutely! The DVD exceeded my expectations.
It begins with an animation detailing the birth of stand-up comedy, which—of course—happened centuries ago in Africa. The animation is nicely rendered and amusing, a good set-up for the show to come. Marina Franklin performs and serves as host of a show featuring The Awkward Kings, “four ground-breaking African-American comedians.” The Awkward Kings are Baron Vaughn, Eric Andre, Hannibal Buress, and Victor Varnado.
When I first saw the edited-for-TV version of this show, I wondered about the “awkward” part. None of the comics looked embarrassed; they all appeared comfortable and gave confident performances. The backstage scenes were no different. These are five people doing what they do very well. Each of The Awkward Kings does reflect (accompanied by animation) on a somewhat-to-very awkward situation from his past.
While viewing the DVD, I began to realize whence the “awkward” appellation. While much of their material goes the route of standard stand-up topics, there are areas that are “different,” let’s say nerdier or geekier. They riff on subjects that most comics don’t touch—not because they are not funny, but because they aren’t cool. These four comedians take uncool situations and make them very funny. More than funny. Why didn’t I catch that the first time I watched? Because I, too, am nerdy and geeky (yes, both), and didn’t find them to be weird at all. (What was it Einstein said about us all being weird? Oh, right. He didn’t say anything about that.)
In her opening routine, Marina Franklin riffs on the gentrification of Harlem, explains why ugly girls are better fighters (they’re not afraid of getting their faces messed up, they already are), and demonstrates her white voice. This is an expansion of what was shown on Comedy Central. Later she does a funny bit on trying to be “sassy,” and how it just didn’t work for her because she’s not “black enough.”
Baron Vaughn related a story about his gay roommate, who felt that gays were even more oppressed than blacks. (“What’s the difference between being black and being gay? You don’t have to tell your parents you’re black.”) He also admits that he is bi-racial; his mother was black, and his father was absent. He talks about traveling, and going to the south a lot lately “which is good because I’ve been meaning to run more.” He also does a very funny piece that involves pterodactyl wings, Kool-Aid, and crack, but I’m not giving that away.