Godfrey makes a splash with well-woven use of voices and
physical expressions in first special
Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
One-named comedian Godfrey makes a splash in his first big special, “Black By Accident,” out on DVD on Aug. 30 after airing
recently on Comedy Central. In the special, he gets to show off
his physicality as a comedian and deploy several funny
high-pitched voices in service of his jokes and stories.
Unlike Wyatt Cenac, who also recently had a debut special (see
review, 8/25/11), Godfrey’s material is somewhat light, using
everyday subjects and not straying too far from the basics in
what he says about them. It’s his delivery that makes his act
come alive, as he can open his eyes wide and stretch his face
and his expressions elastically to convey punchlines.
On “The Homeless,” Godfrey speaks in the scratchy voice of a
homeless man begging on the subway, then further describes
riders’ reactions with screeches and screams. He also uses a
square white-guy voice to say, “I’m not shaking your hand – I
threw the money at you.” Godfrey has several other voices he
uses for effect in his material that heighten the descriptions
of the scenes he describes
piece “First Black Moments in Sports,” just as he uses his vocal
abilities to these ends, Godfrey also enacts certain brief
physical movements, like parodying how white athletes looked
when they dominated professional basketball and football decades
ago, before those sports effectively integrated. He bends his
knees out a bit and runs in place on his toes to mimic 1950s era
white basketball players. Then he adds to this the exaggerated
voice of a black guy wondering what they’re playing and wanting
to take part.
Godfrey’s DVD serves as a good calling card for his talents,
showcasing his biggest strength, putting imaginative use of
voice and expression at the service of material. It’s a good
foundation to build upon.