Question Of The Day: How Much Does The Black Experience Rely On Comedy?

- By Bossip Staff

With the Sundance documentary, Why We Laugh, heading to DVD on April 27th we thought it was the perfect opportunity to open up a discussion about the vital role comedy has played in the black experience.

Inspired by the Darryl Littleton’s book “Black Comedians On Black Comedy: How African Americans Taught Us To Laugh,” Why We Laugh is a documentary that features performances and interviews from some of the most celebrated and outspoken comedians of our time, including Dave Chapelle, Whoopi Goldberg, Katt Williams, Chris Rock, Steve Harvey, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby. Watch the following clip, exclusive to BOSSIP this week, below:

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The film raises some excellent points about Black comedy, things that actually meet many of the aims this site works toward regularly — laughter is important — particularly in a community that is harder hit by poverty, racism and violence than most others. How important do you think comedy is to basic Black survival? Are their any instances you can think of where comedy is the most effective way of addressing certain issues? Does there need to be more of a balance — particularly in the kind of films that represent the Black experience (more drama instead of comedy)? When is, or when has, the joke been on us???

Please discuss.

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  • caribbean coons standing in hate of black americans

    Laughter is medicine for the soul. It heals and nourishes.

    In hard times it is the greatest gift the entertainement world can give the people. Things that look so bad and feel so bad, somehow dont seem as dire when you are able to laugh at yourself.

    When is my Katt Williams coming back? We desperately need him.

  • I'll Aways Be...

    The people who wrote for Pryor like Franklin Agai, Paule Mooney are not included? Why?

  • Somali Ninga

    Black comedy isn’t helping the black community it just pushes niggªs back. Education helps the black community.
    This is the dumbest thread!

  • k

    Michael Williams started it all with the COMEDY ACT THEATRE in Los Angeles, CA for black comedians

  • Glok..I spit it so eloquently,..My pistols represent me!


  • Mizz Frost

    This looks like an incredible documentary! Laughter is truely the best medicine! Humour is so engrained in our culture, we use it to tell stories and to lift our spirits! There are even times when humour is used to humble someone. For example, in my community if somebody gets too big headed about thierselves, people will start to make fun of them and tease them alot…its brings that person back down to earth, but done in a loving way as humour is also a form of affection.

  • Mizz Frost


    for crying out loud

  • laughmatic

    Franklyn Ajaye and Paul Mooney are both on this DVD as well!

  • lovelybubbly

    With black people in unfortunate circumstances its laughing to keep from crying! Laughing is medicine.

  • Lady D

    I saw the whole documentary back in Feb. To me it just looks like black comedians got lost on that thin line between people laughing with them, and people laughing at them. Tracy Morgan is the perfect example. The more Hollywood has their hand in his career, the more annoying his voice gets, and the dumber his caracters are. They magnify the thing that makes you look dumb and capitalize on it when you’re a black comedian.

  • http://google gator

    instead of going postal like our white bro’s and sisters. we have other avenues to vent our anger and it is called comedy. cause the racist folks that get on this blog w/ that hate talk just don’t know. because its your veil, your cloak cause if i could only pull the curtain back on you folks who blog these ignorant hate/race comments it will be some slow sang’n and some flower bring’n for you. if it wasn’t for the TJMS show in the AM. and people listening while going to them racist azz jobs and all that B.S. they got to put up with.i know that a whole lot of folks would be in trouble….. its the comedy ……. just ask paul mooney

  • rain

    SPEAKING to ppl on this site,why when you say something dumb and stupid you use the N word,I love our black comedians ,laughter is the best medicine

  • Glok..I spit it so eloquently,..My pistols represent me!


  • Glok..I spit it so eloquently,..My pistols represent me!


  • Glok..I spit it so eloquently,..My pistols represent me!


  • http://aol ebonieladi

    Unlike Richard Pryor, many of today’s comediens do not know how to tell a good story and make it hilarious. Most of them curse just because they can and that doesn’t make it funny. When Richard cursed it was in the context of what he was saying. I saw a recent DVD by Sinbad called Where You Been? It was hilarious and he didn’t curse one time. The art of good comedy has been diluted just like the music. I can’t think of a comedien that’s out now that I would pay to see. Bernie Mac is gone, that was a great loss. After experiencing Richard Pryor’s comedy, I am spoiled. Eddie Murphy was pretty good and Chris Rock is good at what he does because he makes you think but other than that, the comedy field is nowhere as good as it used to be.

  • Gimmeabreak78


    What about Lavell Crawford or DC Curry? I haven’t seen DC Curry anywhere in years, but if I remember correctly, he didn’t use a lot of foul language.

  • Kenny

    Sinbad’s show is funny as heck, what was shown on Comedy Central made me proud because he did not use one curse word… and he was funny. No one can do that today, not even Kat Williams.. he has to curse to be funny.

  • Gimmeabreak78


    Kyle Grooms is funny. He’s very smart, too. He never got much love from BET, but then again BET never gives much love to black people who aren’t shucking and jiving.

  • http://aol ebonieladi

    Hi Gimmeabreak,

    I like them too but you don’t see them. I like Earthquake also, but where is he? I’m basically talking about the ones that we constantly see that are really not that funny to me. I thought Charlie Murphy would be funny but he hardly made me laugh. Something is definitely missing.
    Most of these comediens feel they have to be vulgar to be funny but that’s not the case.

  • Somali Ninga

    It’s all about Jewish comedians these days! Lets be real! JEW, JEW, and MORE JEWS!! Black comedians in TV and film have been DOWNGRADED!!! Like someone mentioned Tracy Morgan!

  • Penfold

    As black people we all have our own “black experience.” Comedy is universal and serves as a medium to portray our experiences in a lighter manner.

  • jdmann

    Is it comedy or is it telling the truth in the only way Blacks had of telling it. If we reulate what they’re saying to comedy we miss the point. Which is we have been brutalized for 400yrs and this is one way of letting whites know how we feel.


    For love and sex

  • Kenny

    Very true!! BET is garbage, I have not tuned into that programming since the MJ garbage they called a tribute.

  • http://aol ebonieladi

    Roz G is a very funny comedien but gets no exposure. I saw her as an opening act and she killed it. Had the audience in tears. That’s what’s missing. I WOULD pay to see`HER.

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