Review: Katt Williams, “Great America”

On a stage designed to emulate the oval office, complete with flags, stone lions, and two portraits of the comedian, Katt comes out wearing a black suit covered in intricate gold designs with the sneakers to match.  I appreciate his use of props and music, as it is not something you see too often. Despite being introduced as the king of underground comedy, his audience is filled with people from all ethnic backgrounds. Thus, unless the moniker refers to the socioeconomic status of his fans, I am not sure what to make of it. 

For the first fifteen minutes of his latest Netflix special, Katt Williams delivers jokes about Jacksonville, Florida. While it is admirable that the comedian spends so much time connecting with his immediate audience, as a person viewing his special on Netflix, I feel alienated. 

Despite this rough introduction, I found myself smiling at his responses to his proposed scenarios. In my opinion, this is strength. His recaps of Trump’s latest presidential choices – in his words “he has hired Hitler, Satan, and Darth Vader,” – along with his physical reactions is what marks him as a comedian.  However, there are many moments where I wish he would have taken time to really play with his ideas.

For example, unlike any comedians,  Katt addresses the advancements in technology in the sex toy industry. First, he warns women about the near future and robot b**ches taking their places. Then, he warns men about the power of a robot b**ch scorned; she will cut off your electricity and email a letter of resignation to your boss. If he would have taken the time to explore the possibility of malfunction with the robot b**ches, I am sure I would have been crying laughing.  I also appreciate his expression of solidarity with Hispanic people, stating that if Trump called for mass deportation, that black folks would open up the underground railroad. This blend of the contemporary issues with historical solutions makes for satisfying irony.

Some of his jokes do not feel as fresh.  His rant about the Popeye’s lady is reminiscent of a similar joke delivered by Paul Mooney in his 2014 special Masterpiece and fails to land as well as his autobiographical material.  It is when he references his trouble with the law that I feel myself laughing hardest. He mentions how he has so many mugshots, that when he’s arrested, they let him select from existing photos; and how he legally cannot catch the flu until 2026, because incarceration requires mandatory vaccination. These moments are what makes Katt, Katt and what sets him apart from other comedians. I hope to see more of this in the future.  As seen in his appearance in the “Alligator Man” episode of Atlanta, it is that dance between the drama that can be real life and the comedic tone used to express and grapple with the struggles that makes Katt, and makes for the heartiest laughter.

MJ VanDevere

MJ VanDevere is a doctoral candidate at a predominately white elite institution in the South who uses humor to combat racism, sexism, and all the other –isms that seek to diminish her greatness. She is a self-proclaimed “stand-up snob” who does not have a favorite comedian, so please don't ask unless you have several hours to spare. Some of her favorite movies include, Life, Dead Presidents, and Happy Feet. If, she could only do one thing for the rest of her life, it would definitely be laugh, and maybe write. Adulting is her greatest work in progress.

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