TV Review - Russell Simmons Presents the Ruckus

Stand-up comic JB Smooth in
"Russell Simmons Presents the Rucks"
If any of you remember the HBO series Russell Simmons Def Comedy Jam from the early 1990s, this new series is a carbon copy. Martin Lawrence isn't back. JB Smooth, seen most recently on Curb Your Enthusiasm, is the new host. He starts the show with a two-minute set. He then introduces one of three African-American comedians, mostly male, each having 4 to 7-minute sets. Between the first two comedians, Smooth has a vignette about his life.

In the first episode, the first stand-up comic, Owen Smith, made penis jokes. The second stand-up, Kareem Green, talked about how sperm feels. The third named only Capone talked about being old and hurting while having sex. In the second episode, David Arnold talked about the art of fellatio. Damien Lemon took things out of the sex realm with a joke about iPhone apps being used to find fathers from broken homes. Tony Roberts brought it back to sex though.

Watching Tony Roberts, I see young talent with great energy and great stage presence. All the comics are that way. All of them are smart and come up with hilarious material. Their sets could be edited to cut out the bad jokes, but it's no doubt that these guys will start appearing on TV shows and in movies.

Russell Simmons Presents the Ruckus could be a launch pad for these guys and other future African-American stars, much in the way that Def Comedy Jam did for Martin Lawrence and the late Bernie Mac, to name a few. My only hope is that the comics aren't limited to the ones constantly making the run-of-the-mill sex and race jokes. I would love to see black comics branching out and doing more controversial material, getting into politics perhaps or other social issues.

But, even though it's basically a continuation of what Simmons did 20 years ago, it's funny and the platform for fresh black faces on a national level is exciting. The HBO freedoms aren't here, but the show does allow for the "s" word without bleeps.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-MA-L.
Running Time: 30 mins.
Thursdays at 10PM on Comedy Central.


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