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TV Series Review

After co-starring in the film The Original Kings of Comedy and spending six years in a self-titled sitcom, laid-back, dapper funny guy Steve Harvey has finally hit the Big Time. Now, instead of fishing for fame with stand-up routines or scripted laugh lines, Harvey scours the country looking for “everyday people who do things you don’t see every day.”

What happens onstage after he finds those people ranges from heartwarming to toe-curling. From talent show to freak show. A man devours mouthfuls of jalapeños while a woman swallows hard-boiled eggs. A family of watermelon-seed spitters shoots slimy projectiles into the audience. A double-jointed gentleman “jumps rope” with his arms. A do-anything daredevil stops a metal fan with his tongue. Pillow fight champions battle it out over a kiddie-pool full of water.

Meanwhile, children sing like angels and rap like gangstas. A 6-year-old girl grabs a mic and belts out a perfect rendition of Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’.” A 7-year-old boy grabs his crotch and lets loose with Bow Wow’s rap “Bow Wow (That’s My Name).” Youngsters known as the St. Louis Arches balance on exercise balls and spin hula hoops.

Most of the time, Steve Harvey keeps his show fun and clean. But he’s not averse to laying down mild profanity, double entendres and sexual innuendoes. He jokes with the jalapeño eater about the violently flatulent repercussions of downing so many hot peppers. After the boy rapper’s sexualized performance, he grins about how kids that age “don’t have anything down there.” Introducing the fan stopper, he suggestively tells the crowd that the man does “something very special with his tongue.”

None of this is new, of course. Remember That’s Incredible! and Real People? And anyone who has ever seen David Letterman’s stupid human tricks already has a pretty good idea of what to expect from Steve Harvey’s Big Time. Viewers will need to decide if they agree with Harvey’s laughing assessment, “All my guests are normal, you’re the ones who are crazy.”

Episodes Reviewed: Jan. 15, 29, Feb. 5, 19, 26, 2004

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Steven Isaac

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