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Singular Talent

Godfrey makes a splash with well-woven use of voices and physical expressions in first special

By 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

In the 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.



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