I’ve spent much of my career working with Black comedians – some of them A-listers who have risen from the comedy clubs up the food chain to cable TV, talk show host/movie star, network sitcom star/radio show host and back down again. For everyone’s who’s really made it, I can name you five that should have and another five funnier than the funniest network late night talk show hosts.
But for the longest time, the powers that be have used a sort of quota system to keep the majority of Black comedians at one level, only elevating one or two at a time. This is especially true over the last 15 years or so. Things were different back in the 70s. At least it seemed like they were.
Redd Foxx, Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby were all thriving comedians who transitioned from the stage to film and TV. If there was beef amongst them, we didn’t know about it. Of course, there was no Twitter back then either.
Maybe Redd Foxx did call Bill Cosby on his rotary phone and curse him out, but if that did happen, they kept it to themselves.
I recently asked Sinbad, one of the best, what was going on with comedians like Mike Epps, who recently had a Twitter beef with Kevin Hart and then instigated a physical altercation with another comic. (By the way, Kevin and Mike have mended their conflict and publicly announced that they’re still cool.)
Bad broke it down like this. He said that Black comedians are pitted against each other because only one can achieve mainstream Golden Boy status, even though there are many who are just as funny. He’s absolutely right. Kevin Hart is funny, but I’ll bet he would be the first to admit that he isn’t the funniest of all the black comedians working right now.