When people first started talking about Katt Williams and what a sensation he was on the comedy circuit, I shook my head in disbelief as I’d only been exposed to his appearances as cast member on Nick Cannon’s terminally unfunny MTV “freestyle comedy show” Wild ‘N Out and his incessant commercials for pimp ringtones that aired on MTV. But I decided to give his HBO special The Pimp Chronicles, Vol. 1 a chance anyway, and in that long-form format I really saw what everyone had been talking about. Though he mines some of tried and true “Black people do this/White people do that” territory as pretty much every black comedian has done since Richard Pryor, the guy was just plain frickin’ funny and because of his diminutive size, voice and pimp/preacher-esque look, he puts a unique stamp on even the most tired topics. The reception to the special was great, too, so I knew it’d only be a matter of time before he started getting some starring vehicles of some sort or another.

The first of these is a project for Dreamworks that Williams is not only starring in, but is writing as well, and that’s a damn good sign. Marshals is a story about the first black marshals of the Old West, and Williams has gotten his Norbit co-star and new BFF Eddie Murphy to co-star with him, which would make this the first even vaguely interesting Murphy has been associated with since Dreamgirls. While I’d normally be wary of a concept-driven comedy like this, especially one that Eddie Murphy is attached to, I think Williams is going to make or break this all by his lonesome. And damn, it is good to see black talent choose an unorthodox setting for their projects instead of trading in on weary, pre-existing stereotypes (I’m sure Williams could’ve gotten a deal for The Pimp Chronicles: The Movie in a heartbeat).