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‘Talkin’ Dirty After Dark’ (R)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 16, 1991

"Talkin' Dirty After Dark" is a little like Mardi Gras in full swing, a big ol' bawdy celebration of nuttiness for its own sake. Breakneck-paced and barely focused, the action centers on the comedians scrambling for a break at Dukie's late-night comedy club. It's less a movie really than chockablock punch lines.

Washington's Topper Carew wrote and directed this spirited urban burlesque as a showcase for young comic talents like Martin Lawrence of "House Party." Lawrence has the featured role of Terry, a struggling comedian who services the lusty wife (Jedda Jones) of the club owner (John Witherspoon) to secure an all-important late spot at the L.A. club.

After the audience nearly boos him away, Terry wins it over with a decidedly explicit and, yes, helpful routine on pleasing your lady during foreplay. Aside from fried chicken wings and cold beer, talking dirty is the house specialty at Dukie's. Variety is spice, however, and the club's blowhard proprietor has the sense to hire the social ironist Kwame (Lance Crouther) and the preposterously ethnocentric Roach (Dwayne Kennedy).

When pursued by a couple of Dukie's groupies (Vanessa Hampton, Robin Montague), Roach and Kwame turn political correctness to sexual advantage. "Two beautiful black African princesses," says Roach. "I'm going to give you African names -- Cleopatra and Benita." Unimpressed, the ladies return to their pursuit of the club's emcee (Marvin Wright-Bey), who is more interested in a demure lovely (Renee Jones).

Other romantic plot lines involve Dukie's headliner, Aretha (Phyllis Stickney), and her gargantuan boyfriend, Bigg (wrestler "Tiny" Lister Jr.), an insanely jealous bodybuilder. He is all too quick to defend Aretha, who urges him to stay away from the club. "I don't want nobody laughing at my woman," he growls. "But I'm a comedian," she argues.

Not all of the comedians are onstage at Dukie's. The best of the bananas, Rodney Winfield, presides over the kitchen as Rudy Rae the Cook, an eccentric rabble-rouser who likes nothing better than toying with Bigg. The cast also features Darryl Sivad as Percy, a Dukie's wannabe who leaves Detroit and his wife, Visine, to seek stardom in Watts.

Like Keenen Ivory Wayans's "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka," Carew's "Talkin' Dirty After Dark" works best when it tries least. Sometimes the filmmaker attempts to force the madness into the story line and spends far too much screen time resolving the various relationships. Eventually all the lovers and the loose ends come together for a final melee at Dukie's, where various practices unmentionable in a family newspaper are underway. This is not a picture for the prim, the prudent or the politically correct, but for folks who find the humor in sexual prowess, ingrown toenails and other vagaries of daily life.

As they say on Arsenio, woof, woof, woof, woof.

"Talkin' Dirty After Dark" is rated R for profanity.

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