Dear Kings of Comedy,

“This place is half empty,” I told my husband.

[This letter is part of my 52 Letters in 52 Weeks series (read the original post).]

I had played slight of hand with the checking account to surprise my husband with tickets to your Cleveland show in 1998 (or was it 1999?). When I bought the tickets, there were only a few seats left, so we were kicking back in the upper level.

As show time neared, I was irritated by all the empty seats. “This is supposed to be sold out.” I wanted to be down close, in one of those empty sections near the stage.

“Baby,” he said, “everybody’s just on CP time. It’ll fill up.”

“CP time?” I was at a loss.

You four were my first true immersion into stand-up comedy, where I would learn that live electricity happens between the stage and the seat. And your success would only bloom from there. We’d already been watching The Hughleys since it came on and The Bernie Mac Show would soon fill our screen as well….

But this night. Oh, this night.

That night in Cleveland, after Steve Harvey came out, and asked why everyone was on CP time, my husband and I just looked at each other and about spit out our drinks. The next few hours would be some of the most gut wrenching laughter I had ever experienced.

The crowd was loud. Raucous. You were loud. Raucous. It was comedy at it’s finest.

WARNING: Video contains strong language and content.

I was on the floor, holding my side, at several points in the evening.

You – Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac – truly were the Original Kings of Comedy.

And whatever part of America that missed this comedy tour, or missed the TV shows I mentioned above, is truly at a loss. While I could do without the foul language and off color humor, one can’t help but join in laughing with you.

Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine.

I thought of y’all recently when I saw Steve Harvey’s show with the Kings of Comedy reunion. The void of Bernie Mac in your group was palpable and the ways you honored him and his widow and family were so thoughtful.

But one of the things I appreciate most about all of you is your ability to interweve laughter and reality. You took the experience being black in America, being a man in America, a dad in America, a brother in America, a comedian in America, and everything in between to, in some cases, flip to the lighter side, and in others, drive home the reality in ways that were disarming and striking, but split the sides of your audience in the process.

That is talent.

Your comedy is my measuring stick for all that’s followed.

Recently as I drove one of my sons home from the ER at 4am, I turned on the radio only to hear Steve Harvey laughing in my ear. My son said, “Wait, mom. He’s really funny. Keep it on and listen to him.”

Oh son, but I have.

Taking me back to the laughter of my youth,

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Last modified: April 12, 2017

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