Monday, November 06, 2006


I was in 6th grade when HOUSE PARTY came out. I remember you didn't have shit to talk about Monday morning if you hadn't gone to see it, and luckily I had. So what was everyone raving about? Robin Harris as Kid's bug-eyed father, spouting now-classic lines like, "test tube baby" and "I'm from a town called fresh off a cops' ass, yall making me homesick!" Only those who stayed for the credits found out the film was dedicated to Robin, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack before the film was released. He was only 36. I was stunned because I'd never heard of the guy, and he was incredible and memorable. Luckily, Robin had completed work in more films like I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA, DO THE RIGHT THING, HARLEM NIGHTS and MO' BETTER BLUES in a short period of time prior to his passing, but the world would forever be deprived of an outstanding talent and presence who was very much just getting started.

WE DON'T DIE, WE MULTIPLY: THE ROBIN HARRIS STORY takes its name from one of Robin's signature routines, "Bebe's Kids" and is full of never-before-seen footage or Robin's standup act, as well as most of the material from his HBO ONE NIGHT STAND taped the year of his death. Friends, family and fans talk at length about Robin's history and how he became a comic, and his struggles to get noticed on the scene. Among the interview subjects are well-known celebs like Bernice Mac (a personal favorite of mine), Martin Lawrence, Cedric "The Entertainer", Joe Torry, Robert Townsend and DL Hughley as well as several close friends and family memebers, including Robin's teenage son (who was still in the womb when Robin was found dead in a hotel room the morning after a historic performance in his hometown of Chicago). The discussion remains light, funny, and with the utmost respect for its subject, cutting frequently to either standup footage of Robin or a lo-quality videotaped interview conducted the day before his death.

Subtitles are thankfully provided for a lot of the performances as the audio quality is understandably poor, but what is crystal clear throughout is Robin's singularity as one of the most unique comedians in history. The DVD allows you to view the standup performances in their entirety as a special feature, and the subtitles are still included there to allow us to get the full effect. I grabbed this DVD the moment I saw it, absolutely elated that Robin's memory was going to remain relevant and reach a new generation of fans via this documentary. If you think you know all about the "original kings of comedy", you better make sure the name Robin Harris is something you're familiar with. He definitely is one of them.


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