In 1998, if you recall, Chris Rock made the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. He was dressed as a clown and the coverline read “To Be Young, Gifted and the Funniest Man in America.” I think Rock was and is hilarious, but being hailed as the funniest man in America is a lot of pressure for anyone, especially a brother. Rock had nowhere to go but down after getting that label, and I’m beginning to think that was by design.

Let’s be clear. As Rock pointed out on Hart’s Real Husbands of Hollywood, there’s a big difference in being popular with black audiences and popular with mainstream audiences.

The Kings of Comedy’s (Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac and D.L. Hughley) success doesn’t compare with kind of money and access to projects that comedians like Rock, Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby commanded at one time. The Cosby Show was TV’s biggest hit of the 80s and its said to have revived the sitcom genre.

Could it be that after Cosby’s success took him into a whole new stratosphere, it became important for mainstream America to have just one Black Super (funny) Man at a time?

Sinbad, Chris Tucker, Katt Williams, D.L.Hughley and Dave Chappelle have each had their shots. But when Hollywood was done with them, they were forced to go back home to the Black audiences that supported them from the start. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but explains the bitterness some comedians have expressed over the years.

Are Black comedians waiting for Hart’s star to dim so that they can get their shot? Probably so. Is that fair to Kevin? Probably not. To his credit, he’s put a lot of black people to work and seems like he may be trying to beat mainstream Hollywood at its own game. Only time will tell if he succeeds.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many openings for network late-night hosts become available if there’s room for just one… and that’s if we’re lucky. Cable is wide open for a diverse crop of Black comedians, male and female, but ABC, NBC and CBS have a type they’re not willing to change.

Knowing what I know about the hundreds of black comedians that will never be considered, I can only say it’s mainstream America’s loss.

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10 thoughts on “The Power Of One

  1. I’m angry with Authorities for Negotiating with Individuals Who Illegally Buy and Sell Firearms Across State Lines for the Aryan Brotherhood gangsters and national terrorists who participate in crimes of HATE against NON-WHITES and HOMOSEXUALS. So I launched this petition to hold those individuals accountable. Please Sign and Share.
    Mark Herring Virginia Office of the Attorney General: Charge Gun Runners and Arms Dealers for Illegally Transporting/ Shipping Guns To Criminals for Crimes of HATE, Criminal Activity, and National Terrorism. via @Change

  2. Not related to the topic. Tom I want to register for the Text Tom Club but can’t seem to find it on the site. Would you please help on old lady out how is not all that computer savvy.

  3. Tmoney on said:

    Bob Hope did not make the top 20 list why?.. At what point are we not at the mercy of Hollywood? Maybe we need to do more to promote and support these comics. Create and promote movies that showcase these talented people instead of crappy reality TV.

    • Tmoney: True that….on “crappy reality TV.” I no longer watch most of it. It’s to fake/phoney, and predictable

  4. Good article Tom. For those throwing shade at Kevin; let him have his shining star while it lasts. Overall as a group Black people are very judgmental. I imagine is bc of a number of reasons including jealousy, envy, and insecurity. We need to be glad when one of us makes it. There is one type of comedy. Hart is different than say Katt Williams, Chappelle is different than Sinbad, and Rock, etc. Quite frankly Epps has never been (really) funny to me. But he’s funny to lots of other people. As for late nite talk; for whatever reason(s) people didn’t support Arsenio in large numbers. It was a good show that provided a nightly showcase for Black talent of all genres. But the numbers weren’t there so subsequently unfortunately it was canceled

  5. smdh on said:

    That’s ok Tom, because we get to see a plethora of talented comedians on the cruise every year. MAINSTREAM AMERICA’S LOSS!

  6. seriously on said:

    Kevin Hart is liked by the establishment because he is a Sambo…He will throw other blacks under the bus for a crumb. Kevin Hart stated that dark skinned females have no credit and that he likes the lesbian and gay community better. Kevin Hart is no where near light-skin and I am sure that goes for his parents as well. Not to mention his support will come for dumb ass black America who supports this type of samboism. Biggest geneocide of Black America-self-hatred.

  7. Kevin Hart hasn’t been funny since “Soul Plane”. His characters now are way too BUFFOONISH now. Mike Epps was right, just because you have ” Hollywood Notoriety” doesn’t mean your “FUNNY”. Hell, they made ‘Taylor Swift’ a star. ” Only in America’s Hollywood”!!!! #WetheUnitedNuwaupianNationYamasseeTribalFamiliesDemandtheReleaseofourPresidentHEDrMalachiZKYorkElChiefBlackThunderbirdEagleReturnedbacktoourTerritoryLands

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