Black women know all too well how to turn lemons into lemonade. Timed with Women’s History Month, VH1.com is devoting an entire week to spotlight Black women in comedy. We’ll take an in depth look at the women who are pioneers in the genre, the ones who have turned pain, prejudice, stereotypes and grief into laughs.
Throughout the history of showbiz, Black women have managed to remain a staple in the comedy game even when the industry has consistently failed to make proper room for them. From the keep-it-real wisecracks of Moms Mabley and LaWanda Page to the awkward satire of Issa Rae, Black women excel at using humor to battle the unique struggles only they face and comfort each other with relatable jokes. Most women have been subject to comments from male counterparts along the lines of, “women can’t be funny” or “I’ve never met a girl that can make me laugh” only to find themselves cracking up at the sheer brilliance of Debra Wilson on MadtV or Whoopi Goldberg doing stand-up. It’s Black women’s resilience and confidence to break barriers in this genre, in the face of both racism and sexism, that makes them worth celebrating.
Despite Hollywood’s underwhelming appreciation for Black comediennes, they continue to storm the realm of stand-up and sketch comedy with fearlessness – releasing their own projects, amassing fans through social media and expanding the boundaries of what comedy can be. Best of all, they support each other even though the pickings for mainstream/TV roles are slim. The trajectory of Black women in comedic roles has only elevated. But with that rise comes a responsibility to big up the legends that pave the way and highlight future stars.
VH1.com is honored to offer a voice to celebrating the trailblazing Black Women in comedy. So what can you expect? On Wednesday March 22 the premiere of the short documentary, All Jokes Aside, will explore the state of Black women in comedy. The doc includes appearances by Tichina Arnold, Tiffany Haddish, Lunell, Debra Wilson, Amanda Seales, Yvonne Orji and many more.
Also stay tuned for the following blog posts this week.
Let’s Talk About SNL’s relationship With Black Women
The Comic Relief of Reality TV
We look forward to joining the conversation all week.
Debra Wilson, formerly of MADtv, addresses the importance of Black female comedians in entertainment.