The history of comedy in the United States and elsewhere is extensive. For years, black comedians have been unable to become renowned or pursue professions in comedy due to governmental and cultural restrictions. In America, black artists fought throughout the nineteenth century for the right to pursue careers in the entertainment industry.
Original pioneers and new black comedians attempt each year to enter the profession, whether in stand-up comedy, comedy, or live television, such as Saturday Night Live. Black comedians have given audiences applause, laughter, and harsh satire for decades. Here are a few of the hilarious black comedians.
Twenty is usually a high number, but this list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons more talented comedians out there, and many of them have made a career for themselves. If you believe we have overlooked someone, please let us know in the comments section to add them to the list.
Table of Contents
- 1. Chris Rock – American Comedian, Actor & Director
- 2. Charlie Murphy – Legend of Hollywood Comedy
- 3. Dave Chappelle – American Actor & Stand-up Comedian
- 4. Steve Harvey – MC Miss Universe
- 5. David Alan Grier – Acting, Singing, & Comedic Talents Of American
- 6. David Mann – Comedian, Actor, & Gospel Singer From The United States
- 7. Eddie Murphy – 10th On Comedy Central’s Top 100 Comedians List
- 8. Tiffany Haddish – “The Last Black Unicorn”
- 9. Robin Thede – Lead Role On HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show
- 10. Richard Pryor – One Of All-Time Greatest Stand-up Comedians
- 11. Bill Cosby – “America’s Dad”
- 12. Martin Lawrence – A Comedian & Actor From America
- 13. John Elroy Sanford – Better Known As Redd Foxx
- 14. Chris Tucker – Action Comedian From The United States
- 15. Kevin Hart – The World’s Highest-paid Comedian
- 16. Cedric Antonio Kyles – Better Known As Cedric The Entertainer
- 17. Bernard Jeffrey McCullough – Better Know As Bernie Mac
- 18. Katt Williams – A Famous American Actor And Comedian
- 19. Leslie Jones – Saturday Night Live Actor/Writer
- 20. Tracy Morgan – Cast Member Of Saturday Night Live
1. Chris Rock – American Comedian, Actor & Director
Full name: Christopher Julius Rock
Date of birth: February 7, 1965
Birthplace: Andrews, South Carolina, U.S.
Education: James Madison High School
Chris Rock Height: 5 ft 10 in
Chris Rock is, without a doubt, one of the most famous comedians in history. Rock, ranked sixth on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Comedians of All Time, is a political comic and commentator who compares relationship gags to Kalina-style jokes about twentieth-century American politics.
Chris Rock’s success on the big screen was restricted because he appeared in only a few films in supporting parts. Undoubtedly, he is one of the best stand-up comedians of all time. Notably, he rose to fame after making a provocative remark on the difference between black people and white people’s hatred towards them.
2. Charlie Murphy – Legend of Hollywood Comedy
Full name: Charles Quinton Murphy
Date of birth: July 12, 1959
Birthplace: New York City, US.
Died: April 12, 2017 (aged 57)
Years active: 1980–2017
Charlie Murphy, well-known for The Chappelle’s Show, contributed significantly to the show’s popularity. Charlie Murphy, best known for his descriptions of interactions with black celebrities in the 1980s, re-popularized Rick James by stating that James was “accustomed to pushing limits.”
Before his death, Charlie left behind a comic legacy that was tough to surpass. Murphy is noted for voicing the satirical white character Ed Wunkler III in The Boondocks and his reputation as a “tough” comedian. In addition, he is well-known for his role in the sitcom Black Jesus. Norbit and The Boondocks were also essential parts he played.
3. Dave Chappelle – American Actor & Stand-up Comedian
Full name: David Khari Webber Chappelle
Date of birth: August 24, 1973
Birthplace: Washington, DC, US.
Years active: 1990–present
Dave Chappelle was in high school when he first began his profession, which he launched in Washington, District of Columbia, where he was born. When he began his career as a stand-up comedian, he was just 14 years old and performing in nightclubs. Before starting his own great show, The Chappelle Show, which airs on Comedy Central, he appeared in several films and television shows.
He has received multiple honors, including two Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, and a Mark Twain Award. Chappelle is best known for the iconic and critically acclaimed sketch comedy series Chappelle’s Show (2003–2006). The series, co-written with Neal Brennan, ran until his retirement two years later.
4. Steve Harvey – MC Miss Universe
Full name: Broderick Stephen Harvey
Date of birth: January 17, 1957
Birthplace: Welch, West Virginia, U.S.
Education: Glenville High School
Years active: 1985–present
Steve Harvey is an all-American entertainer who wears different hats -a comedian, a TV presenter, a producer, and a radio personality, to name a few of his job titles. Harvey started his career as a stand-up comedian and soon became an actor. What made him famous, however, was his flagship show, Steve The Steve Harvey Show, which ran from 1996 to 2002. The show catapulted him into the public consciousness and gave him enormous recognition.
Harvey has been honored with five Daytime Emmy Awards and fourteen NAACP Image Awards throughout his career, each in a different category. There is no question that he is, without a doubt, one of the most talented American entertainers of the last few decades.
5. David Alan Grier – Acting, Singing, & Comedic Talents Of American
Full name: David Alan Grier
Date of birth: June 30, 1956
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, US.
Years active: 1977–present
David Alan Grier won the Theatre World Award in 1981. For his role as Jackie Robinson in “The First,” he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. This boosted David Alan’s career, gaining his roles in films and television shows and his breakout performance on the legendary sketch comedy show In Living Color in the 1990s.
He is not only a remarkable comedian but also a singer, actor, and wealthy businessman. He won numerous comedy prizes and has been in numerous television shows and films since.
6. David Mann – Comedian, Actor, & Gospel Singer From The United States
Full name: David Anthony Mann Sr.
Date of birth: August 7, 1966
Birthplace: Fort Worth, Texas, US
Years active: 1992—present
David Mann has worked in the acting, stand-up comedy, and production industries. He is well-known for his brilliant comedic abilities and the job he has done in many films. People have consistently recognized him for his remarkable work, contributing to his long history of success as a comedian. (For a list of the top 10 black cartoon characters of all time, go here.)
7. Eddie Murphy – 10th On Comedy Central’s Top 100 Comedians List
Full name: Edward Regan Murphy
Date of birth: April 3, 1961
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Years active: 1976–present
Eddie Murphy comes in last, but by no means least. He is unquestionably a legendary comedic legend, and subsequent generations of comics look up to him as a source of motivation and idolatry. Numerous individuals on this list drew inspiration from Eddie’s efforts, and his mere existence contributed to their accomplishments. In the 1980s, Eddie possessed a loud, humorous voice.
Eddie was also a singer, of his voice. His manner was primarily personal and observational, and he could sometimes be cruel. Eddie Murphy is unavoidable when discussing black comedians.
8. Tiffany Haddish – “The Last Black Unicorn”
Full name: Tiffany Sara Cornilia Haddish
Date of birth: December 3, 1979
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, US.
Years active: 1997–present
Tiffany Haddish is an American actress, author, and comedian. She is recognized for her roles in television shows such as “If Loving You Is Wrong” and comedies such as “Girls Trip.” Haddish was born in California’s Los Angeles. She took refuge in humor and entered theatrical competitions to divert herself from the emotional suffering she was experiencing.
She broke into the business by playing bit parts in some television series. In 2017, she gained widespread recognition for her part in the hit comedic show Girls Trip. She had worked tremendously hard in stand-up comedy for many years, but today she is regarded as one of the greatest, and her work is adored by many.
9. Robin Thede – Lead Role On HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show
Full name: Robin Thede
Date of birth: July 27, 1979
Birthplace: Spencer, Iowa, US.
Education: Northwestern University (BA)
Years active: 2006–present
Even though most people in the black comedy community are black males, our wonderful black girls may be just as entertaining as the men. Robin Thede is a prominent example of this and women’s empowerment. Her accomplishments as a comedy and an artist are not to be sniffed at.
After earning degrees in African-American Studies and Broadcast Journalism, Robin continued her education by taking classes in Improvisation, Sketch Comedy, and Comedy Writing. Robin was unquestionably committed to her schooling but possessed another facet of her character. She is the epitome of a woman who possesses both wit and humor.
10. Richard Pryor – One Of All-Time Greatest Stand-up Comedians
Full name: Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor
Date of birth: December 1, 1940
Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois, US.
Died: December 10, 2005 (aged 65)
Years active: 1963–2005
Richard Pryor is an African-American comedian, actor, television writer, and social critic. A critically acclaimed comedy star, he is known for his hilarious improvisations on live comedy shows for his dashing lifestyle, multiple problems, and a lifelong battle with drug addiction.
He has influenced many modern and up-and-coming comic artists with his flair for engaging audiences through small observations and ingenious storytelling. As one of the most extraordinary lights of his period, Richard Pryor influenced generations of stand-up comedians. His friends have referred to him as Pic the Picasso of Profession Profession and Sem the Comicalian fifty years ago.
11. Bill Cosby – “America’s Dad”
Full name: William Henry Cosby Jr.
Date of birth: July 12, 1937
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US.
Education: Temple University (BS), University of Massachusetts Amherst (MA, EdD)
Years active: 1961–2018
Bill Cosby is a famous American actor. He began his acting career in a role in the television series “I spy” in the 1960s and quickly became famous in the Hollywood movie scene. In the 1980s, Bill Cosby had a lifetime role as gynecologist Cliff Huxtable on an eight-year beloved show from 1984-1992.
Theatrical aura enveloped the actor’s real life, making him one of America’s most famous blacks in the 1990s. Up to now, Bill Cosby still appears regularly in many big shows in Las Vegas, Washington, Arizona, Illinois, South Carolina, etc., and collaborates with many other American television stations.
12. Martin Lawrence – A Comedian & Actor From America
Full name: Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence
Date of birth: April 16, 1965
Birthplace: Frankfurt, West Germany
Years active: 1987–present
Martin Lawrence is another example of how children raised by a single mother are more likely to be successful comedians. Martin’s father uprooted the family and left them when Martin was eight years old so that he could pursue a career in the military.
Martin was interested in boxing when he was a teenager; however, his teacher encouraged him to join an open mic night at a nearby comedy club. Who would have believed that night would pave the way for one of the most successful black comedians in history?
Before landing the role that would transform his career, he spent a few years performing stand-up comedy and hosting Def Comedy Jam on HBO. In addition, he had starring roles in successful comedies, including “Big Momma’s House” and “Bad Boys.”
13. John Elroy Sanford – Better Known As Redd Foxx
Full name: John Elroy Sanford
Date of birth: December 9, 1922
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, US.
Died: October 11, 1991 (aged 68)
Education: DuSable High School
Years active: 1935–1991
Redd Foxx is a highly skilled actor and comedian, and he is currently the star of the critically acclaimed television series ‘Sanford and Son.’ On the set of the CBS series Royal, where he was working at the time of his death in 1991, he suffered a heart attack.
Foxx Redd is described as a kind and friendly person with a deep affection for people by his family and friends. According to Della Reese, he was a remarkable poet and jester in addition to being a compassionate and kind man. Because of his role as Fred Sanford on the television sitcom ‘Sanford and Son,’ he is a well-liked entertainer who has achieved global renown.
14. Chris Tucker – Action Comedian From The United States
Full name: Christopher Tucker
Date of birth: August 31, 1971
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Years active: 1992-Present
Following graduation from high school, Christopher Tucker relocated to Hollywood to pursue a career as a comedian. Initially, he appeared frequently on Def Comedy Jam (1992). Chris was noted for his “clean” or non-vulgar humor, even though Black Comedy is typically characterized by vulgarity.
Chris made his debut in the film industry with House Party 3 (1994). His most notable films are Friday (1995), in which he portrayed Smokey, an eccentric drug user with too much energy. He also starred in Rush Hour 1–3 alongside world-famous action star Jackie Chan, in which he played the blabbermouth police officer James Carter.
15. Kevin Hart – The World’s Highest-paid Comedian
Full name: Kevin Darnell Hart
Date of birth: July 6, 1979
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US.
Education: Community College of Philadelphia
Years active: 2001–present
Kevin’s career got off to a rocky start, but he soon found his footing and passion in comedy. Kevin was born on July 6, 1979, and he spent most of his childhood with his single mother because his father was a drug addict and spent much of his time behind bars. Kevin’s birthday is July 6.
Kevin Hart is not only a stand-up comic but also an actor, writer, producer, and director. In addition to being a well-known comedian, Hart is also an accomplished television and film actor. Kevin was one of just two comedians on to top Forbes’ 2015 list of the 100 highest-paid celebrities because of his enthusiasm, dedication, and incredible sense of humor.
16. Cedric Antonio Kyles – Better Known As Cedric The Entertainer
Full name: Cedric Antonio Kyles
Date of birth: April 24, 1964
Birthplace: Jefferson City, Missouri, US.
Alma mater: Southeast Missouri State University
Years active: 1987–present
Cedric The Entertainer began his career in 1993 as the host of BET’s ComicView and Def Comedy Jam in 1995, making him one of the Original Kings of Comedy. While co-starring on The Steve Harvey Show in 1996, he played Steve’s superstitious and horny best friend and housemate.
He is also well-known for appearing alongside Ice Cube, Eve, and Anthony Anderson in the Barbershop franchise. Cedric The Entertainer is well-known for his bizarre and absurd comedy style. He was a bit dense sports coach on The Steve Harvey Show who loved dance and took choreography too seriously.
17. Bernard Jeffrey McCullough – Better Know As Bernie Mac
Full name: Bernard Jeffrey McCullough
Date of birth: October 5, 1957
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, US.
Died: August 9, 2008 (aged 50)
Education: Chicago Vocational High School
Years active: 1977–2008
On Def Comedy Jam, Bernie Mac became well-known for his eccentric outfits. Mac immediately became a fan favorite due to his forceful comedy and impromptu dances, which captivated audiences. Alongside Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and D. L. Hughley, Bernie Mac was one of the comedians included in the cast of Kings of Comedy in the year 2000.
The film was a huge hit, and the four comedians would continue to hold the title of the Original Kings of Comedy even after its release. Mac’s most famous stand-up routine was about his resentful caretaking of his sister’s children while she went to therapy. Bernie was an outstanding performer in every aspect of his life. He appeared in various films, typically in supporting roles, and his work was consistently praised.
18. Katt Williams – A Famous American Actor And Comedian
Full name: Micah “Katt” Williams
Date of birth: September 2, 1971
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, US.
Years active: 1991–present
Katt Williams began his career in stand-up comedy at the young age of 13, and by the year 1990, he had already developed into a distinct and engaging comic in his own right. He has been a successful solo stand-up comic in various venues. He has performed in various single stand-up performances, some of which have been very successful, such as Katt Williams Live: Let a Playa Play, which took place in 2006.
19. Leslie Jones – Saturday Night Live Actor/Writer
Full name: Annette “Leslie” Jones
Date of birth: September 7, 1967
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, US.
Alma mater: Colorado State University
Years active: 1987–present
Another African-American comedian who has enjoyed a fruitful career is Leslie Jones. Jones is a fantastic comedian, as evidenced by her work in both the cast of Saturday Night Live and as a writer for the show during the years she worked there. In 2010, Showtime premiered her comedy, Problem Child.
Jones’s work on Saturday Night Live earned her a nomination for a Primetime Emmy. She has also succeeded in the film industry, starring in Chris Rock’s Top Five and co-starring with Eddie Murphy in the upcoming film Coming 2 America (2021).
20. Tracy Morgan – Cast Member Of Saturday Night Live
Full name: Tracy Jamal Morgan
Date of birth: November 10, 1968
Birthplace: New York City, US
Years active: 1988–present
Tracy Morgan, a comedian, received his big break when he was invited to join the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1996, and he remained a regular cast member on the show until 2003. He brought several personas to life on the famed live comedy show, such as Brian Fellow conducting a Safari Planet show. Morgan is also well-known for his leading roles as Tracy Jordan in the comedy 30 Rock and as Tray Barker in the film The Last OG, in which he co-starred with Tiffany Haddish, who will be discussed in the following paragraph.