Top 5 Most Influential Black Comedian Albums

Jan 31, 2013 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Article, Top 5

These may be the opinion of just one man (me!), but I think you’ll be hard pressed to find better options. If you think you’ve found them, let me know in the comments. If you convince me maybe they can find their way into future articles. Enjoy!

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#5. Redd Foxx – Uncensored – 1980

Redd Foxx is known by most of us as the easily aggravated, but golden hearted, father on Sanford and Son. The stand-up comedy fans of us know him better as a foul-mouthed ground breaking stage performer. That’s right, before he was doing family oriented humor Foxx was known for his vulgar mouth. That vulgar mouth made a comeback after Sanford and Son went off the year and he proudly shows it off on his 1980 released comedy album, Uncensored. 

In the album Redd Foxx talks a lot about America and how much it has changed from the days of his youth… and also how much it has stayed the same. His stunning depth of observation into society made him ground breaking among not only African-American comedians but just about anyone looking for a role model during the 80s comedy boom. This is why Mr. Foxx finds himself in the doorway of this countdown.

chris-rock-nc01#4. Chris Rock – Bigger and Blacker – 1999

I’m sure most of you reading this are Chris Rock fans. Although that’s a very safe bet since most people in the WORLD are Chris Rock fans. Rock was already big by 1999 but Bigger and Blacker catapulted him into the stratosphere. For a time he held the record for most people in attendance at a live comedy event. He can pack rooms that rivaled that of Jay=Z and Beyonce, and much of that was due to this iconic album.

On this album Rock tackled some tough issues such as the shootings in Columbine and some not as heavy issues such as sex in the champagne room at a strip club. He showed that as long as you have a good point you can get away with talking about any subject. After Bigger and Blacker was released it opened up a plethora of new topic that people often dismissed as unacceptable in comedy shows, especially when talking about black comedians.

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#3. Bill Cosby – To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With – 1968

Sweaters. What more needs to be said?

While nothing NEEDS to be said, the praises that can be sung about Bill Cosby’s “standup” comedy are virtually limitless. Note that I put “standup” in quotes since Mr. Cosby is the one man that gets away with sitting through his act! In earlier years while he wasn’t sitting he still was much more deliberate in speech than his colleagues. While most have trouble pulling off the low key energy of Cosby he not only pulls it off but uses it to create an experience 100% unique to himself.

This album was so influential because it was one of the first to lift the veil off domestic tranquility at home by talking about all the spats in his family. To top that off he presented it in a completely clean fashion. To top matters off it was coming from a black man in the 60s. A black man that had his pulse on main stream America and our values as good or better than any white comedian before him.

eddie-murphy-delirious#2. Eddie Murphy – Comedian – 1983

Just 1 year after Richard Pyror’s comeback album that set the stage on fire Eddie Murphy released his debut album and had big shoes to fill if he wants to follow Pryor as a trailblazer among black comedians. Murphy was up to the challenge.  At the ripe young age of 22 Murphy was one of  the youngest comedians to break through to super stardom.

If you listen to his album Comedian it may not stand the test of time due to social issues such as use of the word “F**got” a lot, but if you keep in mind times were different you’re in for one of the greatest comedy treats you can get. Since he was so young many of the concepts are vulgar and his presentation raw (foreshadowing for his other iconic album. Raw, no doubt) his charm and passion shines clearly. In fact I bet even if you couldn’t speak a word of English you could still enjoy an Eddie Murphy recording, and of course if you’re watching the video you have the suits and legendary smile to keep you entertained. This album influenced so many comedians that followed Eddie Murphy including the above mentioned Chris Rock. Fun fact: On the album Murphy says “Fuck” a total of 230 times.

ss.richarpryor#1. Richard Pryor – Live on the Sunset Strip – 1982

Wow. Just wow. It’s hard to say much more about this performance from Pryor because it shattered the expectations of standup comedy. Pryor is regarded by most as one of, if not THE, best comedians in history, so it’s no surprise that his iconic album Live at the Sunset Strip would find it’s way to the top spot on this list.

If you haven’t seen this video do yourself a favor and WATCH IT RIGHT NOW. The depth of realism he gets into about almost dying several times, most famously in a fire while high on drugs, is unbelievable. The emotion practically pours out of the man while at the same time keeping us guffawing and on our toes as he takes down “motherfucker” after “motherfucker” never losing a step even though it was later in the game for him.

You can talk about influential comedy without including Mr. Pryor and no matter who you start the conversation with, it ends with him. If you see a comedian performing today that say they weren’t influenced by him they’ve either been living in a cave or are lying.

 

2 Comments + Add Comment

  • This is a great compilation of comedians! Love it! I haven’t necessarily gotten any inspiration from these guys, but I am glad they’ve paved the way for black comedians!

  • Kevin Heart should never be classed with these