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The best approach to running a room full of comedy giants? Let them laugh with each other long before they say “Action”.
This is the route taken by filmmaker Craig Brewer for “Coming 2 America,” the sequel to the beloved 1988 hit starring Eddie Murphy.
Murphy reprizes his role of Akeem, then prince, now King of Zamunda, who realizes he fathered a child from an overnight fling during his previous visit to the United States.
This scene, narrated by Brewer, includes comedic works in various styles of Arsenio Hall as Akeem’s friend and right-hand man, Semmi; Jermaine Fowler as his new son, Lavelle; Leslie Jones as Lavelle’s mother; and Tracy Morgan as Lavelle’s uncle. It’s a lot of humor to argue.
“WWhen I was younger I thought being a director meant constantly stepping in and asserting yourself, ” Brewer said. “But I’ve found, especially with comedy artists, what they really want is a safe play. They want to feel free to try things. “
Brewer said that one of the best things he can do as a director, when he has Murphy, Hall, Jones and Morgan on set, is not to turn the camera on immediately, but to give them the time and space to connect.
“You have to let these four people tell old jokes about people they know on the comedy circuit,” he said. Or riffs that would sometimes include Murphy and Morgan piecing together full scenes and dialogue from movies they love.
“I would give 10 to 15 minutes for these guys coming in and laughing and joking and saying all these things. But then it was like, OK, now it’s time to get down to business. And Eddie would nail it in two takes.
Read the “Coming 2 America” review.
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