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Icons of African American Comedy

Icons of African American Comedy

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.

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.

    • 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