English 1302 26 May 2011
The Impact of Madea, Comedy, and Music of “Madea’s Big Happy Family”
In the play “Madea’s Big Happy Family” writer and director Tyler Perry displays a show of comedic and musical talents embraced by the cast in a way that it define who the characters where and how they play their particular role in the over all definition of the play in relation to the audience. Madea’s character plays an essential role in the play both as a comedian and as council to the family, while most characters comedy and or musical numbers give glimpses into the emotional state of that character in unison with Tyler Perry’s direction and over all transition toward the ultimate monologue of the entire play. Miss Shirley, Aunt Bam, Joyce, Kimberly, Byron, Donnie, and the comedian Madea all play essential to the delivery of the script through jokes or music. Miss Shirley, played by Chandra Caralley Young, is the mother in this play to a family of five: Kimberly, Byron, Donnie, Tammy, and Joyce. She is the one of the leads in this play and her motherly attributes are displayed well throughout the interactions with her children. Shirley is a woman in deep covenant with God displayed through her prayers over her children and her strength in relying on God. When she finds out she has cancer, she “accepts the news with barely a flinch”(Zoglin). She has a musical number involving her death at the end of a battle with cancer, where she sings to God how she makes it and how he kept her through her pain she has to indure. She also helps Aunt Bam in delivering some of her comic lines by showing the naive mother with a fragrance and pearls that leave a horrible smell and a green ring around the neck
of whoever wears them. Through these scenes it defines her as the mother who’s oblivious to the jokes made against her behind her back at others expense, that her unwavering faith is the main truth of her existence, love for her children and God, strong attributes inherited by her daughter Joyce. Joyce, played by Cheryl Pepsil Riley, is a spiritual woman whose spirituality has replaced her need for a man and is constantly around her mother helping with chores. She is a sweet and kind girl with the utmost respect for others. She is a constant comic relief for the lines of Madea and Aunt Bam. Aunt Bam constantly abuses her sweetness for all her needs from hiding her purse to using her as the maid to get things in arms reach like the remote control. Madea references the spotless house to Joyce not having a man by insulting her looks by calling her Samuel L. Jackson from “Pulp Fiction” then calling her Dorthy in the “Wizard of Oz” due to her wardrobe and innocent like nature when conversing with her. Joyce’s, song to her mother reinforces this innocence as she sings she could have done more for her mother and that her mother was her inspiration and guide to God. Joyce’s duet with her brothers Byron and Donnie and her mother shows how her reliance on God is her mother’s strongest teaching. Byron, played by Jeffrey Lewis, is the oldest son of Shirley and is the wayward child of the family, caught up the fast life through the dealing of drugs. Byron’s naivety for life is reflected through his desire to be a man at age twenty-two, while still depending on his mother for money and guidance. His duet to his mother sung with his brother, Donnie, is both powerful and a reflection that beneath his manly exterior he is still a mama’s boy, he‘s one of the “soaring vocals of some of the most talented singers” (Wakefield) in the family. Madea uses his choice in a woman, his girlfriend Rose, played by Chontelle Moore, as comic humor as he talks about her expensive eye shadow and shoes, by calling her a “Princess and the Frog,” to taunt Aunt Bam in
to retaliation for the five dollars Rose borrowed over a year ago. Aunt Bam also makes up a song after the very popular children’s song “Row, row, row your boat” and turned it into “Row,...