DAR Comedy: Best Black Stand-Up Comedy Specials

By @TrueGodImmortal

Stand-Up comedy is one of the greatest things in the world. The ability to stand on stage and tell your jokes to a crowd full of people and make them all laugh is a talent that many tend to sleep on. Some of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time took their career to the next level with their own personal special or films, so today, I wanted to take a look back at some of the best black comedy stand-up specials/movies. Let's get into it.

*Richard Pryor- Live On Sunset Strip (1982)

-The legend. The man. The myth. Pryor is regarded as the greatest comedian by many, and when searching for his best work standup wise, look no further than this. After his well publicized battle with drugs, Pryor takes the stage with a much more wiser and refined approach at the Hollywood Palladium, yet still outlandish and always hilarious. He talks a life changing trip to Africa, his battle with drugs, prison, and various topics while giving you side splitting laughter throughout. A must watch for any standup comedy fan.

*Bill Cosby- Himself (1983)

-Though the legacy of Cosby is now tainted, when he made this film, he was at the top. Almost the precursor to his Cosby Show run and success, this standup film was taped during a live performance in Canada, as Bill talks about marriage, drinking, his youth, parenthood, and much more. What made Cosby and his jokes even funnier were his reactions as he tells his own trademark stories and his facial expressions throughout his jokes. This is a very solid performance.

*Eddie Murphy- Delirious(1983) 

-To be completely fair, this might actually be the greatest standup of all time. While I'm more so partial to another Eddie standup (we'll get to that in a minute), this was truly iconic. The red leather suit, the quotes, everything about this is iconic. I've seen people say the jokes don't hold up as well, mostly due to his jokes on sex and gay people (sensitive society these days), but in my opinion, this special is still hilarious. The ice cream bit is one of my favorites and Eddie weaves through his jokes with his charisma flawlessly.

*Eddie Murphy- RAW(1987)

-This is the greatest standup film ever to me. Hands down. It's Eddie at his absolute best, having achieved the height of his fame, and he lived up to the title. Eddie offended everyone, shooting with reckless abandon and responding to anyone who might have been offended by his remarks in Delirious. From his hilarious bit about marriage and a "bush bitch" to his impersonations of Cosby and Pryor to his mocking of white people and Italians, Eddie doesn't miss at all with this one. It's his strongest comedy special and his strongest performance overall in some way.

*Damon Wayans: One Night Stand (1989)

-During the run of this series, many comics came through and had a great 30 minute set. This was one of the sets that I enjoyed the most. Before Damon became who we know and love today, he got his big start here and this would put him on the radar for more people.

*Robin Harris: One Night Stand(1990)

-This is another example of maximizing your minutes on stage. Robin Harris is one of the best comedians of all time and he showcases why here. Always brash, raw, and unfiltered, this is him at his best.

*Martin Lawrence- You So Crazy (1994)

-Martin in stand-up is an interesting thing. He's not his strongest when doing standup, but his comedy is so brash and disrespectful that you can't deny it. This special is a prime example of that, as Martin goes off and entertains his audience. Though I prefer Martin in a film or TV show, this was still a solid standup and one of my personal favorites of the 90's.

*Chris Rock- Bring The Pain (1996)

-This is where Chris Rock became the star we know him as today. This HBO comedy special seemingly catapulted him to be the top standup comic at this point. While his 1994 special Big Ass Jokes was also funny, it paled in comparison to this one. Always smart, funny, and just slightly offensive, Chris shines here.

*Chris Rock- Bigger and Blacker(1999)

-In some ways, this is Rock's most slept on moment. The cover is reminiscent of the No Limit and Cash Money album covers, but the performance itself is Rock in his prime. Chris gives us hilarity and his intelligent brand of brash comedy full fledged.

*The Original Kings of Comedy (2000)

-One of the more popular stand-up films, which truly catapulted these four gentlemen into the Hollywood realm on a bigger level it seemed. Steve Harvey shines, Cedric the Entertainer is good, D.L. Hughley is alright and Bernie Mac is amazing, with performance of the night. A great show and a solid lineup of 4 comedians in different realms.

*Dave Chappelle- Killin Them Softly (2000)

-This is a top 5 personal favorite for me. Chappelle is without a doubt one of the funniest of all time, and this is his best standup work. His comedic timing is flawless and his ability to hold the audience in the palm of his hand is undeniable. Here, through his hilarious tales of a limo ride gone wrong, women and the "whore uniform", and many other vital topics, Chappelle delights the crowd and all the viewers.

*Jamie Foxx- I Might Need Security(2002)

-I was late on discovering this one to be perfectly honest. However, when I did, I realize why Jamie is such a slept on comedian. He's a jack of all trades and he infuses his musical ability in this special as well, which only enhanced the quality of this overall. This is an underrated special and if you haven't seen it, please do so. You won't regret it.

*Dave Chappelle- For What It's Worth(2004)

-After Dave saw success with Chappelle's Show, he was granted an opportunity via Showtime for his own special. The result was this great hour long special where Dave once again does what he does best. The funniest bit here to me is his whole juice vs drink discussion, which is still hilarious to this very day. Though not better than his previous special, this still has a ton of laughs.

*Katt Williams- The Pimp Chronicles (2006)

-This is when Katt was in his prime. Katt is at his most honest and funniest here, and even at the moments you don't agree with him, like his opinion on Michael Jackson, you still can't help but laugh. The moment I hear "Don't You Climb Trees", I instantly go "No muthafucka, we got bills and shit", an instant quotable from this special. Katt doesn't miss a beat the entire special and his comedy prowess is on full display here, with each joke hitting you harder on rewatches, a rarity in comedy.

*Chris Rock- Kill The Messenger (2009)

-This was Chris's return to form, so to speak. He isn't always on the stage these days, but this special turned out to be extremely exciting and entertaining. He's in his element here, editing the special to reflect his three big performances, one in South Africa, one in London, and the other in New York. He blends them together for something special, starting a joke in one performance in one area and finishing it through the other two locations.

*Mike Epps- Under Rated and Never Faded (2009)

-I've never been the biggest Mike Epps fan, but I can't deny this special. It's unpolished and a bit all over the place, but it's Mike at his funniest and easily his most quotable. Just the whole concept of "Snap That Pussy Back", makes this worthy of being on the list alone. If you're unfamiliar or not a huge fan of Epps, this might change your mind or at least entertain you through the duration.

*Kevin Hart- Seriously Funny(2010)

-People give Kevin Hart a lot of flack. Rightfully so. He's a bit over the top and his movies aren't necessarily anything special. However, his stand-up is where he shines and this is his finest moment. From talking about his Uncle Richard Jr. to talking about his father and his grandfather to his own experience at school cussing out his teacher, Kevin makes the hour go by so quickly, making you wish he had another hour of jokes to go. This is one of my personal favorites and it still makes me laugh every time I watch it.

*Eddie Griffin- Tell Em I Said It (2011)

-While Eddie Griffin isn't my favorite comedian, this is him in rare form. He speaks to you in a tone that may remind you of the drunk yet wise uncle and that makes all of his jokes hit even harder. Speaking on everything from relationships to politics, Eddie is in his zone and this is one of the more enjoyable standup specials of the 2010s.

*Patrice O'Neal- Elephant In the Room (2011)

-There are some comedians that have a truly raw charm about them, and Patrice was one of them. The first time I watched this, I didn't find myself in tears of laughter, but more so a head nodding laughter that was mostly in agreement with the outlandish things he said. Tackling everyday life, sexuality, and of course, relationships, Patrice keeps you laughing and intrigued every second of his performance. RIP.

*Kevin Hart- Let Me Explain (2013)

-This is one of the most vital movies in stand-up history next to RAW by Eddie Murphy. A theatrical release that saw this film gross 40 million in the box office made this a huge success. Outside of that, Kevin is on point for most of the performance from his "Help Me... NIGGA" bit all the way to the absolutely ridiculous yet hilarious "bum bump" jokes. Kevin looks completely comfortable in Madison Square Garden on stage and this show was definitely a solid one.

There may be some others missing from this list that you enjoy, and if so, feel free to talk about them in the comments below.



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