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Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam All-Stars DVD Review

“Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam All-Stars” delivers plenty of laughs.

Back in the 90’s, the HBO series “Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam” was a beloved series that showcased a wide variety of Black comedians. Some of them may be less familiar to audiences while many of them were stars or were well on their way to becoming superstars. In this 12 disc Time Life DVD set, viewers can take a trip back in time to watch 36 full episodes of the series along with the 89 minute “Shaq And Cedric The Entertainer Present: All Star Comedy Jam” special.

For those that aren’t aware, the episodes (filmed in front of a studio audience) themselves have a very simple set-up. There’s a guest host/MC (Martin Lawrence hosted a majority of the episodes here) accompanied by a DJ spinning tunes. The host introduces 3-4 comedians on average who do their own set and that’s it. Among the hosts/guests you will see in this set- the aforementioned Martin Lawrence, Dave Chappelle, Cedric The Entertainer, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Queen Latifah, Steve Harvey, Bernie Mac, Tracy Morgan, Chris Tucker, Damon Wayans, Jr., Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, D.L. Hughley, Tommy Davidson, Katt Williams, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, and more. Most of the episodes are from the 90’s but there are a few from 2006 and 2008 sprinkled in. Sometimes there will even be celebs in the crowd like Wesley Snipes.

Stand-up comedy specials may be quite common nowadays, but there’s something special about Def Comedy Jam. Not only do you get to see different comedic stylings in front of often lively crowds, but you also get to see comedians before they were stars. A lot of them have something to prove or are at the top of their game here. This is especially evident in Chris Tucker’s energetic set about being broke, Kevin Hart talking about not being a fighter, Katt Williams ranting about life being too short, or Cedric The Entertainer’s hilarious take on modern rap music (modern in the 90’s that is). The hosts also bring the funny here too. Martin Lawrence may be the most well known host (and arguably the best), but Cedric The Entertainer (whose Shaq roasting in the special had me cracking up) and D.L. Hughley also hold their own (D.L.’s Obama opener is especially amusing). Granted, not all the comedy works, some of it isn’t PC, and some jokes are downright cringe worthy by today’s standards, but there’s so much here that is bound to make viewers laugh that it’s easy to overlook those that don’t.

Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam: All-Stars is available to purchase on the Time Life site here: https://timelife.com/products/DefComedy

Note: A 20 disc set is also available to purchase


Presentation: Fullscreen/Widescreen. How do they look? The 90’s episodes pretty much look as they did in the 90’s so don’t expect any special restoration. The 2000’s episodes and the Shaq special look significantly better as they newer and have better video quality.

Audio Track: Dolby Digital Stereo. How do they sound? The audio isn’t going to wow anyone but it does the job. Note: The Shaq special has a 5.1 track option.

* A booklet which contains history about the show, tidbits about the comedians featured in the series
* “2 Raw 4 TV”- A 39 minute special that collects sets from various comedians like Suzanne Sutter and Rudy Ray Moore.


November 30, 2022 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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