The top comedians of the day deserve a great deal of respect.
The number of comedians that are out there to be enjoyed is hard to imagine, but it was necessary to take this time to highlight a few of those that have managed to change the face of comedy over the years in a lot of ways. People of color have been excelling in many fields for many years now, and the diversification of the entertainment industry has been one that’s been highly noticeable and uniquely impressive given the audiences that have turned out to enjoy and celebrate the many different individuals that have brought their sense of humor to the stage and to the big and small screens.
While some of the greats have passed away in the last several decades or less, some of them are still around and have changed up their act a great deal. The path of a comedian tends to change a lot from the days of their youth, especially when success comes their way and gives them access to different aspects of their career that they might not have expected. Some change for the better, some change in ways that people didn’t expect, but all of those that make people laugh and have made a career from it end up maturing, learning from mistakes, or even in some cases find that what they have is invaluable to those with only minimal changes being needed as the years go by.
Comedy has changed a great deal over the years, and it continues to change as society continues to state what is acceptable and what isn’t. One thing that can be said about the comedians below and many others is that comedy is meant to highlight the world in all its hilarity and horror and bring it down to a level where people can laugh away a great deal of pain or enjoy the ridiculousness of humanity at times, no matter how horrible or wonderful people can be. That’s why comedians are so valuable at times, because in a sense they give people the desire to laugh at life’s many iniquities. Some of the best do this effortlessly, and have been doing so for years.
One of the funniest and most talented men on this list, Eddie Murphy has for a long time been the kind of guy that has said what he wanted to say no matter what anyone had to say about it. Many comedians have been like this over the years, but with Eddie it was initially something that made him who he was, since he didn’t always go so over the top that he couldn’t dial it back when he needed to. Plus, the guy has the kind of talent that’s even allowed him to sing in a decent manner, even if his musical bits have been a bit mockery that’s made a lot of people laugh at times.
Over the years he’s definitely changed his tune a bit since like many folks in the business it feels as though he’s become a lot more socially conscious. He’s also become more of a family-film type of actor since his Dr. Dolittle days and The Haunted Mansion have made that kind of clear.
Chris is another comedian that went raw with his material for a while, and people loved it since the material he would deliver was something that might not have been considered great for polite company, but it felt rough and it felt real. He’s gone the family route as well when it comes to movies, but he’s also stuck around several movies that were less than family-friendly, and he’s done a great job with a lot of them, while others have been seen as less than noteworthy for one reason or another. It’s been made clear that comedians tend to make great actors since their improv skills are prized by some, but it’s also fair to say that Chris can’t always say what he wants in a movie depending on what it is.
Back in his day, Richard Pryor was one of the funniest men alive since he could walk on stage and people would instantly applaud since they knew what was about to happen. One of the best qualities that Pryor had though was that he, like many comedians, knew how to deal with hecklers and he knew how to get his show back on track if anyone decided to interrupt. This is a guy that took heckling in stride and turned it back on the individuals in the crowd that had decided to pipe up and interrupt his show, and without getting nasty or even mentioning the need to get physical in the parking lot. Richard could eviscerate hecklers in a verbal fashion, or he could just shut them up and go on with the show, and people would listen.
It’s fair to say that women of color are often given the reputation of being tough, having an attitude, and being able to shred just about anyone that dares to talk back to them. It’s a bit stereotypical since not every woman of color is bound to be like this, but it’s still fair to say when talking about a woman like Wanda Sykes since every movie and show she appears in features her as her natural self more or less. This woman is the type that a lot of folks might not want to sass since she might end up stripping away every ounce of self-confidence a person has until her point is made and she’s satisfied that the message was received. And you know what? There would be an audience willing to watch this since if Wanda tore into someone it’s likely that they’d deserve it.
Honestly, Tiffany Haddish has come a long way and she’s one of the more entertaining women of color in the business today since she’s shown what she can do and people are rightfully impressed. But it feels as though she hasn’t peaked yet and might still have a lot to offer since she’s still relatively young in terms of the business and is still fully capable of doing her thing for a while to come yet. Seeing women of color rise in the comedy ranks and in Hollywood in general has been a lot of fun to watch since a lot of ladies have been able to make people roll in the aisles with their humor and their acting has been on point as well.
Let’s say this, Leslie Jones is funny, but Ghostbusters 2016 was still a hot mess. For a while she was ready to keep clapping back at those that had anything to say about the movie, especially those that were dumb enough to make the issue about gender. A lot of folks were fully ready to see a female Ghostbuster cast, but the fact is that the movie flew off the rails by trying to be the reboot that didn’t need the original. Leslie is a funny comedian and a decent actor, but that one attempt was kind of a flop all around, and not because of one person. Before and since then she’s still been one of the funnier ladies in the history of comedy.
In Living Color is where this man really managed to shine since it was a place where his sketch comedy came alive in a way that it hasn’t really done anywhere else. He’s an insanely funny individual that can pull off several different characters without a hitch. But when it came to ILC the guy was a comedic genius that managed to nail a few characters in such a way that people still remember Homey the Clown and the homeless guy that carried around a pickle jar full of what everyone hoped was pickle juice.
Between Saturday Night Live and the many movies she’s starred in, Maya Rudolph is one of the many ladies that a lot of people have noticed over and over as she’s taken on one role after another, acting as a kind of chameleon while making people laugh uproariously in a one way or another. While she’s taken on roles in adult-friendly movies she’s also done what she could to be a part of family-friendly movies too, but she’s always brought the same kind of energy and attitude to each role that people can easily recognize.
Eddie Griffin feels like he’s been underrated for a long time since the guy is undeniably funny, but he’s also someone that feels like he’s been limited in his acting for a while. But as far as being funny, he’s been one of the best comedians around for quite a while. Why he hasn’t gone any further is kind of hard to say, but he’s managed to climb quite a ways since being remembered these days is a good hint that a person did something extraordinary at one point in time. It would be great to see him in more big features, but if he’s happy where he’s at then so be it. He’ll always be hilarious.
Mo’Nique is funny, there’s no doubt of that, but the issue that came about when talking about the pay scale between comedians was kind of hard to ignore. She’s been making people laugh for so long that it’s fair to say that she should be getting paid quite well for it. The idea that she makes so much less than others isn’t a humongous concern since she still makes a pretty hefty sum when it comes to her acting and comedy. Like it or not, how many people watch a comedian does have something to do with how much they get paid, since the money has to come from somewhere. But while this is the unvarnished truth, it doesn’t affect the idea that she is still insanely funny when she wants to be, and is a great actress as well.
WTR? (Why’s That Radass?)
Being able to laugh at life in various ways and for more than a few reasons is important, and those that are capable of making us do so are highly valued in society for their wit and their ability to take just about anything and make it comical. In honor of Black History Month it’s only right to say thank you to those that have stood on stage and made their voices heard over the years.