Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Season 2 of Laff Mobb’s We Got Next premieres tonight 2/4 @ 10:00 PM (ET) on ASPiRE. Billed at an original weekly “clean stand-up” comedy/reality series, Laff Mobb’s We Got Next features two hot young African-American comedians being interviewed by executive producer Bob Sumner (Def Comedy Jam) before being seen on stage plying their craft for live audiences at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood. The new season will consist of featuring 16 comics over the course of eight 30-minute episodes. The show is produced by Laff Mobb and New Wave Entertainment.

Review: Tonight’s edition features Amberia Allen (featured in the video above), a California native currently living in LA, riffing on everything from African-American spaghetti recipes to family relationships to allegedly spoiled homeless people. I have to say Amberia is a real comic talent with a great delivery and some very funny observational material — particularly when it comes to family. While the stuff about homeless people who aren’t satisfied with what you’re prepared to give them did make me a little uneasy (I’m more in favor of speaking truth to the powerful rather than the relatively powerless), it’s just a small portion of an overall performance that’s top notch.  Somebody might want to consider developing a sitcom with her.

Next up,  Louisiana native Robert Powell (video above) goes on about like dishonest politicians, dating, divorce and Tiger Woods’ sexual exploits. While his stuff about corruption in the political process  could be considered speaking truth to power, I was, overall, less impressed with his performance which I felt had a slight nasty tinge (such as when mocking a supposedly ugly woman who tried to pick him up in a bar). And, quite frankly his stuff about Tiger Woods and advice for spouses whose spouses cheat on them (“Cheat on them back!”), while hardly vapors producing, does seem a bit of place on a show being promoted as a home of clean comedy.  On top of that, the material really wasn’t all that funny.

But, that’s what you get with these kinds of shows. It’s hit or miss depending on the performer being showcased. That said, I’m all for these showcases since they do give newcomers an opportunity to get noticed. You never know when lightning will strike.

About ASPiRE

ASPiRE is a television network that celebrates the groundbreaking achievements of African-Americans. ASPiRE offers a diverse programming mix of movies, series and specials featuring music, comedy, drama, faith/inspiration, theater/performing arts, lifestyle and news/information. The network was launched June 27, 2012 by Magic Johnson Enterprises, which acts as a catalyst for driving unparalleled business results for its partners and fosters community/economic empowerment by making available high-quality entertainment, products and services that answer the demands of ethnically diverse urban communities. ASPiRE is available in about 21 million homes in 21 of the top 25 African-American markets including New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Speaking of ASPiRE….the network has announced that it will debut the critically-acclaimed award-winning documentary Doin’ It In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC on Thursday, February 19 at 9:00 PM (ET) with an encore at 11:00 PM (ET). 

Directed by Bobbito García and Kevin Couliau, the film explores the history, culture, and social impact of  summer basketball in New York City  where, with over 700 outdoor courts and an estimated 500,000 players, the game is something more than just a game. It’s a way of life. Considering Magic Johnson’s role at ASPiRE, the network seems a natural showcase for the movie. 

García and Couliau visited 180 courts throughout NYC’s five boroughs to create their documentary. They traveled to a majority of the locations by bicycle, carrying camera equipment and a ball in their backpacks. The film’s title refers as much to the subject matter as it does to the method of filmmaking, providing an unprecedented perspective on urban America’s most popular, and accessible, free recreation. The soundtrack features music by The Blackbyrds, Quantic, 20SYL, The Roots and Jurassic 5.

The film has won a number of awards, including Audience Award: Best Feature, Urbanworld Film Fest 2012; Winner: Best Documentary, New Jersey Film Fest 2012; Winner: Best Documentary, San Francisco Black Film Festival, 2012; and Winner: Best Documentary, Mount Vernon Film Festival 2014.  In addition, in 2012 it was an official selection at Toronto’s Regent Park Film Festival, Puerto Rico’s Fine Arts Film Festival and Philadelphia’s The Awesome Fest.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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