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Corin Wells’ Black History Project

In honor of Black History month, I have compiled series of top five lists highlighting the contributions of African Americans in comedy. This is one of them. A panel of leading experts consisting of the voices inside my head; Suge Knight, Eartha Kitt, and Steve Guttenburg; have spent countless hours debating, drinking and drugging to bring to you The GOAT…. Greatest of All Time…Its an Acronym.

The GOAT: African American Stand-Up Comedians

5. Chris Rock– Rock made his mainstream debut on SNL but most of his success is attributed to his raunchy yet socially aware stand-up. His distinctive voice made him a stand out on the comedy scene. Though some of his cross-over film roles have been… well kind of whack, Rock has maintained well deserved respect for his comedic styling and stand-up acts.

4. Bill Cosby– Before the pudding, before the Huxtables, this Philadelphia native had stand-up. Unlike many black comedians of the time, Cosby was able to relate to a wide range of audiences with his notoriously clean sets in a time when more politically active, socially charged, risqué subject matter was the norm. “A white person listens to my act and he laughs and he thinks, ‘Yeah, that’s the way I see it too.’ Okay. He’s white. I’m Negro. And we both see things the same way. That must mean that we are alike. Right? So I figure this way I’m doing as much for good race relations as the next guy”.

3. Redd Fox– Probably best known for his role as Fred Sanford in the 1970s television classic Sanford and Son, Foxx began doing stand-up comedy on the infamous “Chitlin’ Circuit” in the 1940s and 1950. Redd developed his style of blue humor to get a rise out of the audience. Redd’s style combined perfect timing, delivery and a conversational storytelling vibe to make clean material sound dirty and dirty material sound filthy. Many of today’s greatest comedians note Fox as an inspiration.

2. Eddie Murphy- Norbit and The Adventures of Pluto Nash aside, Eddie Murphy has to be considered one of the most successful comedians …ever. By the time he was 15, Murphy was working as a stand-up comic in New York. At the age of 19 he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, where Murphy exercised his comedic abilities in impersonating African American figures and originating some of the show’s most memorable characters. His Eddie Murphy Raw concert film remained the most successful stand-up concert film until The Original Kings of Comedy was released. (eh) Not to mention, he’s the 2nd highest grossing actor in Hollywood.

1.Richard Pryor– If you ask any comedian who their biggest inspirations have been, Richard Pryor is bound to be included in about 99.3% of those responses. (a Me Fact) Highly influential and always controversial, Pryor drafted the blueprint for the progressive thinking of black comedians. With his monologues, he brought to life the entire range of the black American experience. He transcended the color barrier that inhibited Redd Fox in the 50s, while addressing the taboo topics Bill Cosby would not touch and essentially set the bar for the younger generation of comics such as Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock solidifying, to me, his spot at number 1.

Honorable Mentions: Bernie Mac, Kevin Hart, Dick Gregory, Dave Chapelle, Paul Mooney

The Panel:
Suge Knight – the founder and CEO of Black Kapital Records and co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records. Murderer of Tupac Shakur… probably.

Eartha Kitt– An American singer, actress, and cabaret star. Catwoman to Adam West’s Batman. Deceased.

Steve Guttenberg– An American actor and comedian. Would be bigger were it not for Tom Hanks. Nickename: The Gute.

A Great Debate featuring Darryl Charles and James Hesky (Round One)

James Hesky and Darryl Charles are two Philadelphia comedians and the founders of the deep, dark, dank cellar of the Podcast World – Cheapodcast.  Darryl and James have tackled one of the biggest hot button questions of the 20th century… who are bigger assholes, Football players or Basketball players.  Over the next three rounds, we’ll let them make opening statements, rebuttals, and concluding arguments. By the end, we should all be a little more enlightened:

Let the debate begin!

 James Hesky: Basketball players are worse than Football players.

Being a bad person is to basketball as taking steroids is to baseball. Even the hero of the NBA, Michael Jordan, was a degenerate gambler and a philanderer who quit on his team and his sport to see if he could try another sport for another year. Hall of Famer Charles Barkley famously said “I am not a role model” and then backed it up by getting a DUI and used the excuse that he was rushing to go get a BJ. And these are the guys who are the face of the league.

Hey, remember that time all those football players got in a brawl with fans? Me neither. But it happened in the NBA because Ron Artest got a cup thrown at him.

You know what I hate? How Peyton Manning always shows up for the season 30 pounds overweight and just decides he’ll play his way into shape during the season and be ready for the playoffs. Oh wait, that’s what Shaquille O’Neal did for the entire second half of his career.

Even after they retire, NBA players can’t stop being horrible human beings. As the GM of the Knicks, Isiah Thomas used his position of power to sexually harass one of his employees. The worst part is that people in the NBA don’t even think that the fact that he’s a sexual predator is the worst thing about him, he is still most infamous for simply being a terrible GM.

Darryl Charles: Football players are worse than basketball players:

Imagine you could build the perfect asshole (person, not body part). The person would have to be arrogant, rude, obnoxious and self-centered. This person would have to be fantastic at exploiting weakness for the joy of others, awesome at hurting those weaker than him. The person should have an imposing physique, making sure intimidation happened on sight. They should be rich and famous, allowing for mindless adoration and a group of hangers on that would only feed the ego of this asshole. In short, this person should be a football player.

Football is a tough sport. It is a sport where large men dress in pads and run into each other to establish dominance on the placement and movement of a small ball. It is a game in which pain is a weapon and avoiding it will most likely lead to a loss. Physically tormenting your opponent is only surpassed by psychologically tormenting your opponent to the point their concentration is shaken and their game is rendered inept. This is going to breed an asshole.

The list of current and former players is as deep as Tiki Barber’s bank accounts, before he got divorced from his wife after leaving her while pregnant for an 20 something intern at a broadcasting job he wasn’t good at and used to ridicule the team that let him rise to enough popularity to get said job: Ray Lewis (alleged murderer!), Lawrence Taylor, Dan Marino, Bill Romanowski, Ben Rothlisberger, Terrell Owens, Chad OchoCinco, Plaxico Burress, Joe Namath and even Bill Bellicheck. A list of the exploits of the aforementioned people is a thorough how-to on assholetry.

Murder, harassment, steroid abuse, finger biting, attempted rape, cheating (both in the game and in life), cockiness, erratic behavior, bullying and general assholy behavior are hallmarks of the NFL and it players and coaches.


“The Golden Age of MADtv” by Matt Holmes

Saturday Night Live is woven into the culture of America. People debate which were the best seasons or the funniest sketches and talk about the ups and downs over the years. For fourteen years, MADtv offered some company and competition to SNL in the late-night sketch comedy arena, producing some really amazing comedy that deserves to be recognized and remembered. The show changed and grew over the years and showcased some extremely talented cast members that need to be seen more.

MADtv had a golden age from 1999 to 2004, in my opinion. After starting as a TV version of the magazine of the same name, it found its identity and produced some stellar comedy before its eventual end.

Some really, really excellent work was produced before season 5 and after season 9, but I’ll highlight this era. The humor relates to when it was created, but stands the test of time. Here’s a list of 25 extraordinary sketches that provide clever ideas, fun characters, solid writing, and stupendous acting—at times daring to be experimental and boundary-pushing.

25. Man Up! Regional Championships

Sketch comedy has often struggled to write from different perspectives, and I think this sketch is a great example of African-American cast members creating something that doesn’t just fill a quota but stands out as great comedy.

24. Sick Wife

Michael McDonald and Stephnie Weir worked amazingly well together, and I dare say that this sketch says something about the human condition.

23. The Fun Room

Now here’s something that’s certainly weird, but remains approachable via good writing and ad-libs.
Continue reading “The Golden Age of MADtv” by Matt Holmes