Pootie Tang: Sa Da Tay

Pootie Tang: Sa Da Tay

After hearing Louis C.K.’s appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF (please excuse the lame title), viewing Pootie Tang became a requirement. Before hearing that interview, though, most folks should have been relatively ignorant regarding the guy’s writing for the Chris Rock Show as well as the fact that C.K. wrote and directed Pootie Tang, a spinoff from a character who appeared on Rock’s show.

Regardless of that knowledge, C.K. talked about how he figured out electronics and film equipment in the aforementioned interview. He wasn’t pompous about it, but the whole thing sounded like he was the indie-comic Coppolla or something. And while his sitcom, if it can rightly be called that, Louis, is fucking hilarious, Pootie Tang didn’t look as well put together or well thought out. But the fact that C.K. turned the thing from a sketch into a feature – well almost. It’s actually about an hour and ten minutes long – while going to a set where he was surely in the minority is kind of amazing all on its own.

As for the film itself, released in 2001, it sports not just an impressive cast with Wanda Sykes playing an important role, Rock playing a few characters and a number of unsurprisingly band comics cum actors in prominent roles. Watching Rock, Lance Crouther, who plays the titular role and J. B. Smoove stand around on some street corner talking was at once a lesson in over the top, overly rehearsed performances, but also an homage to Spike Lee’s aesthetic. Willful or not, C.K., using a low angle to capture the conversation was also able to snag a snatch of blue sky and enough of a building’s crested rooftop to make it all seem like another Brooklyn story.

It’s not. But Pootie Tang was an entertaining attempt to update the blaxploitation genre. The rehashed tough guy, womanizer combination hadn’t disappeared, just been smoothed out and inserted into a wealth of other genre types. For the most part, this film’s going to be recalled for Crouther spitting out lines of nonsensical words. It actually accounts for a significant portion of the script. But considering how short the feature was in the first place, it should be wondered how much C.K. wrote and how much space he left open for Rock to make up random, unrelated sounds to count for Pootie’s dialogue. The answer doesn’t matter, but imagining anyone vocalizing “Sad a tay” for the first time is just short of amazing.