Opinion – 4/15/2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Jason Mattox Opinion

For additional opinions and articles,
pick up the 4/15/03  issue of The Panolian

Few Things Better Than a Good Laugh

OK, I like a good stand-up routine as much as the next guy, but it seems like Hollywood is putting out more and more of them lately.

The most recent comedian to find himself performing on the silver screen is Eddie Griffin. I admit it, I watched, and laughed nearly as hard as anyone else in the theater. That’s what got me to thinking. This guy is naturally funny, why not give him another scripted film?

If you think about it, Griffin has been pretty successful. Whether he was a supporting player in "The New Guy" or a lead in "Double Take" or "Undercover Brother," Griffin can get you to laugh.

That isn’t always the case. Here is a list of comedians who, to me, were funnier on stage than screen, and one who could do both just as well.

Richard Pryor – With the exception of "Moving," I just never thought the roles he played were as funny as the man himself. Richard made a name for himself in Hollywood as a writer and proved to be quite good at it.

His credits include episodes of "Sanford and Son" and the Mel Brooks classic, "Blazing Saddles."
Robin Williams – To be honest, I had lost all respect for Robin Williams’ comedic talent prior to seeing last year’s "Live from Broadway" on HBO again last week.

Though his movie roles have been teetering more towards the serious side as of late, the man proved he could still make an audience laugh so hard it hurt. Let’s just hope there’s not another "Flubber" out there somewhere.
John Leguizamo – I never thought this man was funny until I saw his one-man show live. I will admit his comedy is an acquired taste because it has a habit of being a little on the raunchy side, but if you can stomach it, you will enjoy it.
Eddie Murphy – OK, Eddie has been funny for a long time. This man was, at one time, billed as a young Richard Pryor, but he lost his way. His recent outings haven’t been funny and, to make matters worse, he seems to have forgotten who his core audience is.

I wish he would give up the prosthetics and animal co-stars and go back to the stage just one more time before he’s too far gone. What I wouldn’t give to hear the ice cream man bit.

I have to say that there is one man who I think is just as funny on the stage as he is on screen. That man is Steve Martin.

Martin hasn’t even dabbled in stand-up since he was pulling hosting duties on "Saturday Night Live" in the ’70s.

I can laugh just as hard at Martin doing his legendary "King Tut" or "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" skits as I can when he played opposite of the late John Candy in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" or Diane Lane in either of the "Father of the Bride" films.

I don’t know what it is about Martin; it could just be that exudes confidence no matter where he is. Perhaps it’s because he makes it a point to work with great people.

Either way, he is a funny man.

A good laugh is always nice, and it is, most definitely, entertaining – to me at least.

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(Jason Mattox can be reached by email at: newsroom@panolian.com