``Def Comedy'' road leads to Meyerhoff

September 18, 1992|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Advisory: Bill Bellamy says the "The Def Comedy Jam Tour," in Baltimore for two sold-out shows at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall tomorrow night, offers the same material as the weekly HBO show "Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam." There's just more of it.

"People know what to expect. . . . I don't think anybody will be offended," says the 25-year-old headliner of the uninhibited four-performer show. "The difference is in the time. We're each on stage a lot longer."

When "Def Comedy Jam" premiered in March on HBO, it was promoted as a "raw and raunchy" showcase for black comedians doing uncensored material that dictated a midnight screening. (The show recently returned for the fall to Fridays at that time.)

And Mr. Bellamy, a native of Newark, N.J., who got into comedy by winning an amateur night, says the predominantly black audiences at some 30 concert dates so far have been well aware of the adult nature of the acts.

"They are hyped, they are through the roof. It's the best audience you could possibly perform for. They know you soon as you come out," he says.

But he also asserts that the comedy of "Def Comedy" is neither racially exclusive nor entirely raunchy.

"I'm really not the dirtiest comedian in comedy. My style is to do mostly what everybody can relate to," he says.

For example, on the premiere of the TV show he performed a routine about a stolen car that is able to signal its owner of its whereabouts, and did a bit of lampooning of ads for home pregnancy tests.

"Everybody can laugh at that," he says, adding, "More and more white people are coming out, and that's good."

There may be a couple of jokes white viewers might not understand, but, "Hey, they'll laugh anyway because everyone else is laughing," he jokes.

On the bill with Mr. Bellamy are host Bernie Mac of Chicago, Reggie McFadden of Brooklyn and Adele Givens of Chicago, whom Mr. Bellamy calls "one of the funniest women anywhere."

"It's just like being around a bunch of clowns in the circus. We've actually become like a really close family," says the comic of the "Def Comedy" road show.

The comedy revue was created by Mr. Simmons as another "hip hop" extension of his successful Def Jam rap music recording label.

Mr. Bellamy says that, unlike some comedians, he doesn't remember himself as a particularly funny kid while growing up.

"I just hung out and had fun with my friends."

But in 1988, while attending Rutgers University, he put together a comedy bit for a "laugh-off" at the Sweetwaters cabaret in New York, and surprisingly won.

"I was hooked. You have no props, it's just you up there," he recalls.

In 1990 he appeared on national TV's syndicated "Showtime at )) the Apollo" and not only survived "the audience from hell" but was invited back the next year. He also will be featured the day after Christmas in HBO's "15th Annual Young Comedians Special."

And while the field of comedy appears in recent years to have exploded with hundreds of young comics, Mr. Bellamy notes, "Everybody's doing comedy, but not everybody's doing comedy, you get my drift."

'The Def Comedy Jam Tour'

:. When: Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Where: Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St.

Tickets: Sold out.

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