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Supplier Gives the Churchgoing Audience Something to Laugh At

19 Oct, 2003 By: Brendan Howard

Venues for African-American stand-up comics are plentiful and popular -- just think HBO's “Def Comedy Jam” and “BET Comic View.” But what happens to those same comics when they want to tone down the four-letter words and put a more positive spin on their humor?

“Most people haven't been willing to give these kinds of comedians a chance,” said Jeru Tillman, president of Big Game Ventures, whose Rising Entertainment division is releasing Holla, the first in a five-disc series of more positive stand-up comic acts.

The title streeted Oct. 7 on DVD ($16.98), VHS ($12.98) and CD ($12.98).

“When retailers look for content from African-Americans, there's been a glut of product that's hip-hop, bang-bang-shoot-em-up,” Tillman said. He hopes retailers come to Rising Entertainment for family-minded, more spiritual African-American product.

On Holla, in place of jokes on a gangsta lifestyle of guns, women and drugs are such bits as T.J. McGee's thoughts on Bernie Mac as Moses in The Ten Commandments, Edwonda White's look at a gangster preacher singing “Jesus Is the Homey” and the hefty Bone, who says he needs a fat son to relate to.

And there's no preachiness, just an appreciation for an audience of churchgoing people who might want to laugh at some church-related, family-appropriate humor.

“When I grew up, 7 o'clock was the family hour, watching TV,” Tillman said. “We wanted to re-create that kind of a feel.”

Tillman and his business partner, Tashion Macon, hand-picked the five comics appearing on this first title, and the duo is already planning a 25-city tour with the comedians to promote the disc.

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