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Top Black Comedians, All-Time By Era

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Top Black Comedians

The Best Black Comedy Actors, By Decade

Whether strictly stand up black comedians or black comedy actors who solely star in films of the comedy genre, African Americans have come a long way to almost dominating the comedic world, depending who you are asking or the actual audience.

From the early days with Flip Wilson to the great Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy to the rise of the entire Wayans family, which include standup, films and of course In Living Color, many have paved the way for black comedians to make it show business.

With platforms like the Def Comedy Jam, BET’s Comicview, Showtime at the Apollo, and, before all, the local Chitlin Circuits, many had the chance to witness some of the greatest comedians of all-time. Today, social media, whether Youtube or Instagram, has created similar opportunities for comedians and striving to be comedians to showcase their talent.

Many of the comedians have had long careers that expanded well into multiple decades, but each comedian is placed in their peak year, whether it is when they started to gain stardom or when they were at their best. With that being said, below is a list of the top comedians by decade, from the generation before the 1960s to the 2010s breakout with Youtube personalities.

Black Comedy Actors and Comedians: 1960s and Before

The true pioneers of the comedy world for African Americans are the likes of Pigmeat Markam, Moms Mabley, while there were other earlier comedians, actors and performers, like Stepin Fetchit. During the 1960s comedians like Redd Foxx and Slappy White would get an early start on their careers as there were numerous rising stars were beginning to emerge during this era of the 1950s and 1960s.


Dick Gregory

Top 10 Black Comedians (Before the 1970s and No Specific Order)

1. Bill Cosby
2. Redd Foxx
3. Flip Wilson
4. Moms Mabley
5. Dick Gregory
6. Garrett Morris
7. Nipsey Russell
8. George Kirby
9. Godfrey Cambridge
10. Slappy White


Redd Foxx




Black Comedians and Comedy Actors: 1970s

The 1970s was dominated by the late Richard Pryor, from his often classical stand-up routines to numerous classic films that were starring himself during the 1970s. Other top comedians of the era were John Witherspoon, George Wallace, Paul Mooney, and a few others, as well many of the comedians that begun their road to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s, but the likes of Pryor and Witherspoon came to light throughout the 1970s.


Richard Pryor

Black Comedy Actors and Comedians: 1980s

Similar to the 1970s, the 1980s were widely dominated by the great Eddie Murphy, from his stand-up routines and specials, “Delirious” and “Raw”, to his movies that were often box office hits, like Coming to America or 48 Hrs. or Beverly Hills Cop. Other key comedians who gain their claim to fame during the 80s were Robin Harris, Michael Colyar, Damon Wayans, J. Anthony Brown, Tommy Davidson, and others.


Eddie Murphy

Black Comedians and Comedy Actors: 1990s

The 1990s is the true golden year for African American comedians as large platforms like Def Comedy Jam and Comicview brought the talent to the people. In no order below is a brief list of the top black comedians of the 1990s.

*Comedians are placed in the category of 90s due to the beginning of their peak years in comedy. The list does not represent the funniest, since that is solely based on opinion, but the most popular and successful throughout their careers.

1. Martin Lawrence
2. Chris Rock
3. Bernie Mac
4. Steve Harvey
5. DL Hughley
6. Cedric the Entertainer
7. Mo’Nique
8. Eddie Griffin
9. Tracy Morgan
10. Sommore
11. Earthquake
12. Adele Givens
13. Aries Spears
14. DC Curry
15. Guy Torry
16. TK Kirkland
17. Bill Bellamy
18. Bruce Bruce
19. Luenell
20. Arnez J and many more…


Martin Lawrence

Chris Rock

Bernie Mac




Black Comedy Actors and Comedians: 2000s

Continuing into the 2000s with the same energy as the 1990s with over a dozen of black comedians making a name for themselves. Big names like Mike Epps, Katt Williams, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, and many others would get their start or their true introduction to stardom within the comedy world during the 2000s.

*Comedians are placed in the category of 2000s due to the beginning of their peak years in comedy. The list does not represent the funniest, since that is solely based on opinion, but the most popular and successful throughout their careers.

1. Dave Chappelle
2. Mike Epps
3. Katt Williams
4. Kevin Hart
5. Lil Duval
6. Patrice O’Neal
7. Leslie Jones
8. Lavell Crawford
9. Corey Holcomb
10. Deon Cole
11. Michael Blackson
12. JB Smoove
13. DeRay Davis
14. Craig Robinson
15. Tony Rock and many more…


Mike Epps

Katt Williams

Black Comedians and Comedy Actors: 2010s / 2020s

Continuing the trend of one black comedian per generation, Kevin Hart dominated the 2010s. Behind his reign, top comedians of the 2000s continued their success as well the rise of numerous other comedians through various of platforms of traditional television, film and standup, along with social media platforms of Youtube and Instagram.  Some of the top comedians of the era include actress Tiffany Haddish DC Young Fly ,  Ha Ha Davis Jess Hilarious , Lil Rel , Michael Che , Jay Pharoah, Ms Pat and many more who have large following on social media platforms.




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