Bill Bellamy’s new stand-up special begins with a couple of minutes of behind the scenes footage, catching the comic in the relaxed, playful moments before he has to go on stage. During his musings, he mentions that he was the first comic to appear on the first ever Def Comedy Jam, and that he was key in starting that comedy phenomenon. It sets a tone right from the word go that this is a fairly arrogant guy, and personally made it hard for me to enjoy the first chunk of his hour long special.
I’ve never seen Bill Bellamy do stand-up before. I’ve seen him in a handful of small, mostly forgettable film and television roles, but nothing substantial enough to form any sort of opinion about the man as a performer until now. Mostly, I didn’t laugh at Bellamy’s special. There’s some good stuff in here, but the more fine-tuned bits are depressingly rare. Such bits include Bellamy recounting his time spent in an adult chat room, and a story about a guy refusing to take off his flip-flops for airport security. These portions of the special are well-crafted, with an exceptional balance between jokes and physical comedy, and if the rest of the special were like this, I would have thoroughly enjoyed the entire thing.
Unfortunately, Bellamy digresses on long, predictable tirades about the differences between black people and white people. It’s an infinitely deep comedy well (in the 1990s) and while Bellamy’s material within this niche is unique, it falls flat at its most basic level.
The comic has a definite stage presence, and a charisma which makes it easy to see why he draws in a fan base. I personally just like my comics to put a little more work into their material. A well-written joke goes a long way. If it’s impeccably performed as if it’s just occurring to the comic in real time, that’s a plus. Bellamy’s entire act feels like he’s saying it for the first time, but not in a good way – mostly just feels like he wasn’t prepared to go on stage. Obviously, his casual demeanor with the audience is an asset – I just wish he had enough solid material to back up his obvious talent as a performer.
No special features on the DVD, which isn’t completely uncommon for these stand-up releases, but they usually have the decency to throw on a short behind the scenes featurette.
Available on DVD from Entertainment One on July 17