Synopses & Reviews
Despite the popularity of comedic superstars like Bill Cosby and Whoopi Goldberg, few books have looked at the work of African-American comedians, especially those who, like Godfrey Cambridge and Moms Mabley, dramatically impacted American humor. Icons of African American Comedy
remedies that oversight.
Beginning with an introduction that explores the history and impact of black comedians, the book offers in-depth discussions of 12 of the most important African-American comedians of the past 100-plus years: Bert Williams, Moms Mabley, Redd Foxx, Dick Gregory, Flip Wilson, Godfrey Cambridge, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, Damon Wayans, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle. Each essay discusses the comedian's early life and offers an analysis of his or her contributions to American entertainment. Providing a variety of viewpoints on African-American comedy, the book shows how these comedians changed American comedy and American society.
"What a surprise to laugh while reviewing a new reference title! This one features comedy icons—those who, 1) challenge the status quo, 2) influence millions, and 3) impact history; so it includes lots of humorous material while informing the reader and reflecting on race and entertainment history. . . . This entertaining work belongs in most circulating collections." -
• A chronology of the major events of more than 100 years of comedic history
• 24 photographs showing the 12 featured comedians at various stages in their careers
• A list of resources at the end of each chapter, including books, articles, movies, recordings, and stand-up performances
• Suggestions for further reading
• Provides, in one volume, a discussion of the histories, contributions, and impact of 12 icons of African-American comedy
• Covers more than a century of African-American comedic history, from Bert Williams's work in medicine shows in the 1890s to the work of Dave Chappelle, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Cosby, and Chris Rock
• Includes a brief essay on how black comedians in the 1950s and 1960s impacted the Civil Rights movement and an essay on the minstrel show and how it shaped American entertainment
This in-depth compilation of the lives, works, and contributions of 12 icons of African-American comedy explores their impact on American entertainment and the way America thinks about race.
Comedians entertain us and challenge us. They make us laugh and they make us think. They both reflect and dissect the cultural mosaic that is the United States. As an important part of that mosaic, African-American comedians have helped shape American comedyand American culturefor more than a century. These are their stories.