Stand-up comedians who can make you shake with laughter can be hard to find. If you’re on the lookout for some serious fun, look no further than the 20 best Black stand-up comedians below. With their hilarious performances, you’re in for the gales of laughter that you will never forget.
Born and raised in New York, Eddie Murphy began showcasing his talent for stand-up comedy from an early age. His wit and sense of humor made Eddie Murphy stand out among his classmates throughout his school years. At the age of fifteen, Eddie Murphy began doing stand-up comedy, making impressions of celebrities and giving outlooks on life.
Turning 19, Eddie Murphy started performing at Saturday Night Live, where his impersonations of the show’s characters received much praise. Continuing his stand-up comedy performances, Eddie Murphy came in 10th among the Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time. After his appearances in such box-office hit films as Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy became a celebrity across the world.
One of the Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2015, Kevin Hart is an American comedian, actor, and producer. His career in stand-up comedy began with performances in clubs across New England, where he was born and grew up. In 2001, Kevin Hart made his television debut, landing a recurring role in Judd Apatow’s sitcom Undeclared, aired on Fox.
In 2008, Kevin Hart released I’m a Grown Little Man, his first stand-up album, solidifying his reputation as a comedian. Between 2010 and 2016, he released four more comedy albums, including his concert films What Now? and Let Me Explain. Kevin Hart has also appeared in several comedy films, among which are Central Intelligence (2016), Night School (2018), and others.
An American comedian and actor, Richard Pryor earned recognition as one of the most influential stand-up comedians of all time. His awards include five Grammies, the Writers Guild of America Award, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and others. Both Comedy Central and Rolling Stone ranked Richard Pryor first on their lists of best stand-up comedians of all time.
Throughout his stand-up career, Richard Pryor released numerous comedy albums and appeared in multiple comedy concert films. Among them are his 1971 stand-up debut Richard Pryor: Live & Smokin’ and his highly-acclaimed Richard Pryor: Live in Concert. Besides stand-up comedy appearances, Richard Pryor also starred in films, such as Blue Collar (1978), Superman III (1983), and others.
Voted the fifth greatest stand-up comedian in Comedy Central’s poll, Chris Rock is also an actor, writer, director, and producer. After dropping out of high-school, Chris Rock worked various blue-collar jobs until he built his reputation as a stand-up comedian.
Chris Rock began his stand-up career in the Catch a Rising Star chain of comedy clubs in New York City. Following his early performances, Chris Rock became a cast member on Saturday Night Live, staying on the show until 1993.
After starring in his 1996 HBO special Bring the Pain, Chris Rock became one of the highest acclaimed stand-up comedians. Following his stand-up career breakthrough, Chris Rock made numerous comedic and film appearances, becoming nominated for and winning multiple awards.
The “comic genius of America” according to Esquire, Dave Chappelle began his stand-up career when he was 14 years old. Since then, Dave Chappelle has established himself as a prominent stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and producer. As such, he has won numerous awards for his comedic performances, among which are two Grammy and two Emmy awards.
Dave Chappelle is perhaps best known for his sketch comedy television series Chappelle’s Show, which he co-created with Neal Brennan. He has also made several film appearances, including The Nutty Professor (1996), Blue Streak (1999), Undercover Brother (2002), and others. Since 2016, Dave Chappelle has starred in four stand-up comedy specials on Netflix, having an ongoing contract with the company.
An American actor and stand-up comedian, Chris Tucker has become known for his distinct non-vulgar style of stand-up comedy performances. He made his first serious stand-up career debut as a frequent guest performer on the HBO’s 1992 Def Comedy Jam. Soon, he made his film debut in the 1994 House Party 3, embarking on his career as a comedic actor.
Chris Tucker is most known for starring in Rush Hour (1998), Rush Hour 2 (2001), and Rush Hour 3 (2007). His appearances in these action comedies made him a winner of multiple prestigious awards, including his two MTV Movie Awards. Despite his career as a comedic actor, Chris Tucker has made regular comebacks to stand-up comedy after his film appearances.
One of America’s 25 funniest people in 2004 according to Entertainment Weekly, Wanda Sykes is a comedian, actress, and writer. Her outstanding talent for stand-up comedy received wide recognition during the time Wanda Sykes worked on The Chris Rock Show. For her work as one of the key writers for the show, she won the Primetime Emmy Award in 1999.
Wanda Sykes has also written and appeared in her TV specials Tongue Untied, Sick and Tired, and I’ma Be Me. Among her works are also the TV series Wanda Does It and The Wanda Sykes Show, which she has created. Wanda Sykes has also made appearances in the films Monster-in-Law (2005), Evan Almighty (2007), License to Wed (2007), and others.
Having started out as a homeless stand-up comedian performing at local comedy clubs, Steve Harvey is now a prominent entertainer. Throughout his 27-year long stand-up career, Steve Harvey has won six Emmies, two Marconi Awards, and fourteen NAACP Image Awards. Among the numerous shows he has hosted are The Steve Harvey Show, Steve Harvey’s Funderdome, Little Big Shots, and others.
Steve Harvey is also a successful writer, well-known as the author of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. The book became an inspiration for the 2012 romantic comedy Think Like a Man, which Steve Harvey produced as well. Steve Harvey is also the executive producer for the recently announced TV adaptation of his book, Think Like a Man.
Named after Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence began his stand-up career in New York. There, he performed at The Improv, which helped him get on the Star Search show, where his talent was discovered. Soon, Martin Lawrence made his first appearance on TV in the What’s Happening Now!! sitcom, that launched his acting career.
Martin Lawrence received wide recognition after playing the role of detective Marcus Burnett in the 1995 comedy film Bad Boys. The well-received acting chemistry between him and Will Smith lead Martin Lawrence to reprise the role in the film sequels. As a leading actor, Martin Lawrence has also appeared in Big Momma’s House, Blue Streak, sitcom Martin, and other films.
Born and raised in Chicago, Bernie Mac started his career in stand-up comedy by giving performances at Chicago’s Cotton Club. After winning the nationally known Millet Lite Comedy Search Contest, Bernie Mac made an appearance on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. During his appearance on the television series, Bernie Mac established himself as a hilarious comedian who is fearless on stage.
Bernie Mac became widely known after starring in the sitcom The Bernie Mac Show, aired for five seasons on Fox. His work on the show earned Bernie Mac two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Besides his work as a comedian, Bernie Mac appeared in numerous films such as Ocean’s Eleven, Bad Santa, and others.
A multi-talented entertainer, Katt Williams began his career in stand-up comedy by performing in comedy clubs across the nation. During this period, he performed on stage at The Improv, The Icehouse, The Hollywood Park Casino, and other comedy clubs. Gradually, Katt Williams established himself as a talented stand-up comedian, which lead him to perform at the Comic View show.
In 2006, Katt Williams released his first HBO stand-up comedy special The Pimp Chronicles, Pt.1, earning wider recognition. Later, he released three more HBO comedy specials: It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’ (2008), Kattpacalypse (2012), and Katt Williams: Priceless: Afterlife (2014). Katt Williams has also recently released his new stand-up comedy special on Netflix, Great America (2018).
Ranked 62nd among the Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time, Eddie Griffin is an American comedian and actor. Among his stand-up comedy albums are The Message in the Hat (1993), The Message (1999), and Freedom of Speech (2008). His 2011 comedy album You Can Tell ‘Em I Said It, released by Comedy Central, is perhaps the most well-known.
Eddie Griffin has made numerous appearances on television shows, including the animated Black Dynamite series where he played Richard Pryor. His appearance as Eddie Griffin in Malcolm & Eddie sitcom is perhaps the most famous TV role he has played. Eddie Griffin has also appeared in multiple films, including Undercover Brother (2002), Scary Movie 3 (2003), Norbit (2007), and others.
Besides being a prominent actor and musician, Jamie Foxx is also a stand-up comedian with an outstanding sense of humor. His stand-up specials include Straight from the Foxxhole (1993), I Might Need Security (2002), and Lost, Stolen, and Leaked! (2003).
In 2004, Jamie Foxx portrayed Ray Charles in the biographical film Ray, which made him widely recognized as an actor. For his role in the film, Jamie Foxx was awarded the Academy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor.
Jamie Foxx has also made numerous other film appearances, including his roles in Django Unchained (2012) and Baby Driver (2017). Having produced four studio albums and having won two Grammies, Jamie Foxx has also established himself as a talented musician.
D. L. Hughley
Being a famous stand-up comedian, D. L. Hughley is also an actor, radio host, political commentator, as well as author. He has become well-known after being the original host of the Comic View stand-up comedy show aired on BET channel. His other notable TV appearance includes playing the main character Darryl Hughley on the sitcom The Hughleys aired on ABC.
Having authored three of his books, D. L. Hughley has also established himself as news and radio personality and host. He has hosted the CNN’s D. L. Hughley Breaks the News and The D. L. Hughley Morning Show on WEPN. Recently, D. L. Hughley has started hosting a new talk show The D. L. Hughley Show on TV One network.
After spending two years in jail for selling drugs, Mike Epps began his stand-up career performing at Def Comedy Jam. Having made two appearances on the show, he has become notorious for making jokes about physically and mentally disabled children.
In 1997, Mike Epps made his film debut in the drama film Strays, written, directed, and produced by Vin Diesel. Mike Epps achieved a breakthrough in his acting career after co-starring Ice Cube in the 2000 comedy film Next Friday.
Mike Epps has also appeared in numerous other films, such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007). Besides being a comedian and an actor, Mike Epps has also established himself as a writer, rapper, and film producer.
A stand-up comedian and actress, Leslie Jones began her stand-up career in Los Angeles, where she moved after leaving college. To make ends meet, she worked at various menial jobs there, performing at regular comedy clubs when she had time. After a few unsuccessful attempts to become a mainstream stand-up comedian, she stopped performing any stand-up comedy for three years.
In 2013, Leslie Jones successfully auditioned for Saturday Night Live, becoming the show’s writer and a member of its cast. Her work on the show has earned her two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Besides her work as a comedian, Leslie Jones appeared in various films, including the 2016 reboot of the Ghostbusters series.
Famous for his naturally sharp sense of humor and his improvisations, George Wallace started his stand-up career in New York. There, he spent years perfecting the craft of stand-up comedy on stage, before deciding to move to the West Coast.
Soon after moving, George Wallace’s talent received quick recognition, and he was offered to write for The Red Foxx Show. One year after accepting the offer, George Wallace also started to perform regularly at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood.
In 1995, at the annual American Comedy Awards ceremony, George Wallace won the title of the Best Male Stand-Up Comedian. Throughout his career, he has appeared in his HBO special and on various TV shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Keenen Ivory Wayans
Coming from the Wayans show business family, Keenen Ivory Wayans is an American stand-up comedian, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. Among the numerous films Wayans has directed are the high-grossing comedy films Scary Movie (2000) and Scary Movie 2 (2001).
Keenen Ivory Wayans was also a co-writer of the 1987 satirical comedy film Hollywood Shuffle, in which he co-starred too. The film was well-received and had social significance, touching upon the racial stereotypes of African-Americans in film and on television.
Having created, written, and produced the In Living Color television series, Keenen Ivory Wayans has also starred in the show. Out of it, Wayans has tried to create an alternative variety show to Saturday Night Live, starring people of color.
A prominent American entertainer, David Adkins has become famous as a stand-up comedian and actor under his stage name Sinbad. He began his career in mainstream stand-up comedy when he appeared on Star Search, making it to the show’s finals. Soon after taking part in the show, he made his first television appearance on ABC’s sitcom The Red Foxx Show.
Sinbad has released multiple stand-up comedy specials, winning the 1995 Image Award for his second special Sinbad – Afros and Bellbottoms. He has also starred in comedy films, including Houseguest (1995), First Kid (1996), Jingle All the Way (1996), and others. Sinbad has made numerous appearances on television series, among which are The Sinbad Show, Slacker Cats, Steven Universe, and others.
The first African-American entertainer to host a prominent variety television show, Flip Wilson was an American stand-up comedian and actor. He became most famous for being the host of The Flip Wilson Show that ran on NBC in the 1970s. For his work on this hit variety television series, Flip Wilson won a Golden Globe Award and two Emmy Awards.
Flip Wilson released several comedy albums, winning a Grammy for his album The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress (1970). Time Magazine named Flip Wilson as the “TV’s first Black superstar”, featuring the comedian’s image on its cover in 1972. Flip Wilson has also made several film and television appearances, including the sitcoms Charlie & Co, Living Single, and others.