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African American Humor


African American Humor: The Best Black Comedy from Slavery to Today (The Library of Black America series) Paperback – August 1, 2002 by Mel Watkins (Author), Dick Gregory (Foreword)

This collection of anecdotes, tales, jokes, toasts, rhymes, satire, riffs, poems, stand-up sketches, and snaps documents the evolution of African American humor over the past two centuries. It includes routines and writings from such luminaries as Bert Williams, Butterbeans & Susie, Stepin Fetchit, Moms Mabley, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Redd Foxx, Ishmael Reed, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Martin Lawrence, and Chris Rock. This anthology includes classic stage routines, literary examples, and witty quotations presented in their entirety.

From Publishers Weekly

“If I really want to scare the hell out of my white friends, I drive out to the suburb they live in and walk down their street slowly, carrying the real estate section of the New York Times.” This bon mot from 1960s comedian Godfrey Cambridge (1933-1978) is among the many jokes, snaps, comedy sketches, satires and folk anecdotes gathered in African American Humor: The Best Black Comedy from Slavery to Today. Selected by editor and writer Mel Watkins (On the Real Side), the witticisms come from such luminaries as Zora Neale Hurston, Satchel Paige, Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor, Damon Wayans and many others. ()
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Comedy of and by blacks often reflects a strong counterpoint to comedy about blacks in mainstream white America. During slavery and Reconstruction, blacks embraced the minstrel show format, a caricature of blacks via whites in blackface, to find their reflections even in the debilitating genre. That desire continued in film with Stepin Fetchit, Willie Best, and the Amos and Andy series. However, Watkins draws from a deeper well and includes literary sources of jokes, rhymes, poems, and stand-up comic routines that reflect nearly two centuries of black American humor. Chris Rock, Flip Wilson, and Martin Lawrence are included as examples of contemporary humorists. Watkins also includes such pioneer comedians as Bert Williams, who often performed in blackface; Moms Mabley; and Redd Foxx. He also provides excellent examples of black humor and social commentary through excerpts of literary work, including Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Ishmael Reed, and others. This comedic focus provides a prism view and critique of America usually shielded from mainstream exposure. An entertaining and thoughtful work. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

A Wonderful Collection of Humor

ByRyan Leackon April 21, 2007

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

This collection of African American humor will take you from the beginning to the end, approximately from the 1800s to present day. Learn how slaves coped with their hardships behind the guise of humor that was directed at their masters without them ever catching onto it. See how their humor changed when African Americans were integrated into American society, how fierce and forthright it became, and come all the way to present day to comedians like Chris Rock and Richard Pryor. This book has many parts and selections from various authors. Some of the early selections are difficult to follow, for the language is traditional slave language, but later selections are much easier. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes culture and likes to laugh.

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