Comedic Genius (02:47)
Whites wore blackface and portrayed blacks as dimwitted and child-like. The Biograph Company hired Bert Williams to appear in "A Natural Born Gambler."
Early Comedians (04:35)
In "Open the Door, Richard" Stepin Fetchit portrayed a lazy man. "Amos and Andy" was a favorite of the 1952-1953 television season. Pigmeat Markham, Nipsey Russell, Red Foxx, Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor, and Jackie "Moms" Mabley appeared at the Apollo Theater.
Comedic Presence (04:30)
In "The Watermelon Man," Godfrey Cambridge portrayed a black man who turned white overnight. Russell appeared on "Can You Dig It?" Comedians found their place in television talk and game shows.
Racial Bias (04:44)
Bill Cosby appeared on "Tony Brown's Journal" in 1988. The comedian discussed racial discrimination, comedy, and flops at the box office.
Talented Impressionist (06:20)
Authorities convicted and incarcerated George Kirby for selling heroin. The comedian performed "King Heroin" a poem he wrote about drug addiction. Kirby imitated James Cagney, Ronald Reagan, Peter Lorre, and John Wayne.
Drug Addiction (03:16)
No leading performers wanted Kirby to open their show. The comedian turned to selling drugs out of desperation. Pryor thanked God for becoming sober after his cocaine addiction.
Credits: Legends of Comedy (00:07)
Credits: Legends of Comedy
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