Dave Chappelle, Sheryl Underwood and More Bring the Laughs on ‘Def Comedy Jam 25’ Anniversary Special
By Latifah Muhammad
“All comedy roads today, lead to Def Comedy Jam.”
Dave Chappelle, Steve Harvey, Martin Lawrence, D.L. Hughley and more of comedy’s heavy hitters reunited for a special night of laughs for Def Comedy Jam 25, a new special which began streaming on Netflix on Tuesday.
The comedy celebration was filmed at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on Sept. 9, and pays tribute to the comedians behind a show “responsible for more stolen cable than any other television,” as Chappelle joked.
Chappelle, Harvey, Sheryl Underwood and Cedric the Entertainer kick off the 80-minute special playing as a comedy collision of self-deprecation and social topics like racism and police brutality, a sprinkle of politics (President Donald Trump comes up more than once) and tons of laughs, with appearances from Tracy Morgan, Katt Williams, Craig Robinson, Bill Bellamy, Mike Epps, Tiffany Haddish and many more.
Russell Simmons and Stan Lathan premiered Def Comedy Jam in 1992, and over the course of five years, the show became a platform for the “hottest stand-up comedy shows in history.”
The “Ladies of Def Comedy Jam” earn a special segment with Haddish moderating as Underwood, Melody Camacho and Adele Givens explain how the show helped break barriers for women in comedy.
The special also features a hilarious blooper moment that quickly morphs into an impromptu tag team stand-up routine between Chappelle and Hughley that is arguably the night’s funniest moment.
But the most emotional moments come when Tracy Morgan makes his way to the stage to honor Lawrence, and the In Memoriam montage featuring a special tribute to Bernie Mac.
The Chicago comedian, who died in 2008, is honored by his fellow "Kings of Comedy," Cedric, Harvey and Hughley.
“Bernie was our king,” Harvey tells the audience. “Bernie Mac was our favorite. Bernie Mac meant something to us. He was the one of us that we all sat around the monitors to watch.”
“We all were stand ups, but we were in love with Mac because Mac didn’t just want to make you laugh, he tried to throw you into something and then make you laugh at s**t you had no business laughing at," Harvey adds. "He was vicious on that stage, he was the greatest of all the kings here.”
At the end of the show, the comedians come together for a group photo, where Chappelle speaks to Def Comedy Jam’s impact on the genre.
“It changed comedy forever, it opened doors. People talk s**t about it, then they look like damn fools years later. Now you look around this room, and you see how ignorant it was to be a hater. All comedy roads today, lead back to Def Comedy Jam,” Chappelle says. “And I know that I can speak for everyone on this stage when I say I couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of something so groundbreaking.”
And the celebs aren't just on the stage. The star-studded audience includes Jesse Williams, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Meagan Good, Michael Ealy, Nia Long and video appearances from Chris Rock, Kevin Hart and Trevor Noah.