At a time when the state of stand-up comedy has degenerated
to the point where the typical routine tends to be a profanity-laced appeal to the lowest common denominator, a movie like Don't Trip... He Ain't Through with Me Yet arrives like a breath of fresh air. The movie is a clean solo concert performed by Steve Harvey in front of 16,000 believers at MegaFest in Atlanta, an annual, Christian-oriented event hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes.
Harvey, a six-time, NAACP Image Award-winner, has enjoyed one of the most versatile and enduring careers in all of show business. After getting his start on the stand-up circuit, he’s went on to land his own TV sitcom, host variety shows, write books, do dramatic and comic roles on the big screen, and even still finds time for his syndicated radio program.
Although this very talented Renaissance Man had previously enjoyed phenomenal success touring the country as one of the Original Kings of Comedy, Don't Trip admittedly proved to be a challenged because he had never really attempted to make a live audience laugh without resorting to coarse language and off-color material. Intimate in feel despite of the size of the venue, this picture captures eliciting a barrel full of belly laughs, while sharing a sincere, deeply spiritual side of himself we’d never witnessed before.
Yes, Steve’s hilarious, frenetically pacing the floor in his trademark oversized suit and perfectly-coiffed ‘fro, keeping the huge throng enthralled for over and hour with animated bits about church ushers with bad feet, choir members with cellulite, and Michael Jackson (“I ain’t got no 8 year-old buddies”). By the end, this master storyteller evokes favorable comparisons to Cosby, making one wonder why he hadn’t tried to work clean before.
But he’s also stone cold sober and doesn’t joke at tender moments when reflecting about having been shot, having been to jail, and having had to live in his car for two years during less blessed days. The contrast between the familiar image of Harvey as the brash, above-it-all funnyman we’ve come to love over the years and the suddenly vulnerable soul we now see up on the on screen is unusually endearing and, ultimately, winning.
Although he never says so explicitly, one cannot help but suspect that making this movie marked a significant milestone, not merely professionally, but personally, and that Christ now plays a significant part in his life. For, how else can one explain a finale featuring tears streaming down Steve’s face, as he turns over the stage to his Lord and Savior.
Faith-based entertainment at its best, and with ten times as many laughs per-minute as that bottom-feeding Chappelle flick currently in theaters which, by comparison, repeatedly relies the shock value of the b-word, n-word, t-word, p-word and f-word in serving up its mostly misogynistic brand of humor.
Excellent (4 stars)