Caren Weiner
November 24, 1995 AT 05:00 AM EST

Tommy Davidson: Illin' in Philly

Current Status
In Season
Tommy Davidson

We gave it an B+

Comedy can be a bumpy ride, as evidenced by these entries in Showtime’s series of half-hour stand-up tapes. Brett Butler — an intellectual uneasily flirting with her own artificial blond buxomness — is capable of much more than she shows us on Brett Butler: Sold Out. Beginning with a tedious endorsement spoof, she spends her 30 minutes examining her ambivalence about TV and stardom, but she takes her comic message way too seriously. Tommy Davidson’s lighter touch, on Tommy Davidson: Illin’ in Philly, pays off much better. Though his topical humor is a bit dated — jokes about South African independence marches and Rodney King don’t resonate quite the way they used to — his racially aware punchlines usually hit their mark. Plus the man can sing, delivering tuneful parodies of songs by Stevie Wonder and Elton John. Bill Bellamy, meanwhile, wavers between trying to be a junior Bill Cosby and a junior Eddie Murphy on Bill Bellamy: Booty Call. Though he’s often funny, the homages end up making his limitations that much more apparent. B+

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