Standup comedy an extremely subjective medium, even moreso than movies or television, but it’s not impossible to pinpoint when someone does have what could universally be described as potential talent. The comedian Godfrey’s first hour-long standup special, Black By Accident, opens slowly. He spends a lot of time talking about the cold, New York City subways, and the men vs. women phenomenon. All well-traveled territories, and none taken with a notable degree of innovation. Somewhere in the middle of the act, however, Godfrey picks up momentum. While it’s very obvious that the comedian is still finding his style (he bats around a view “character voices” that get repetitive, and transitions clumsily into new jokes here and there), he definitely has some good material at his disposal. Some of his more memorable jokes involve people masking one ear from the rain at the expense of the other, and some laugh-out-loud material about what “suspicious people” look like.
It is clear that Godfrey is in a period of determining what kind of comedian and performer he wants to be, and reconciling that identity with what kind as which he is most talented. Godfrey is certainly a funny guy; where his weakness comes in, it seems, is trying to satisfy too many audiences. He experiments with the vulgar and sexual (where he does not fare as well; his comedy here is more or less “heard it before”), the sociopolitical (it picks up a bit—his riffs on airport security garner some laughs) and the observational (here is where his humor is at its best, especially when partnered with an absurdist take he peppers throughout the special). As this is his first attempt at an hour-long comedy special, it is both brave and intelligent of Godfrey to try out all these forms, but hopefully he’ll find a more specific, effective voice for his next special.
Also on the DVD is a brief interview with the comedian, touching upon comedy, his influences, the best places in America to perform, and other topics. It is a worthwhile watch for someone interested in the art and business of comedy. Godfrey maintains a heavy air of humor throughout the interview, so it’s never dry or dull (albeit sometimes rambling).
The second feature allows viewers to see two act-breaks in his routine, wherein a makeup woman comes onstage to do a couple of “touch ups.” They are short, and pretty unnecessary—it’s recommended to skip them altogether and just watch the special and the interview.
All in all, Black By Accident is a worthy watch, and the interview offers an interesting point of view of a young comedian.
The DVD hits shelves Tuesday, Aug. 30.