Historical qualities of African American Comedy



Historical qualities of African American Comedy. (According to Littleton)

  • African libriads: this is where the black community comedians trace their roots to. The libriads were entertainers for black kings back in Africa. They were tasked with the job of singing, dancing, and poetry during the nights in the African kingdoms. When slave trade began, some of these libriads may have been captured and finding themselves in unfamiliar territories, they must have formed entertainment groups to lighten the burden in their hearts.
  • Black community amusement: in and before 1916, the black communities passed jokes amongst themselves in order to amuse themselves. They did it in order to survive the middle pass and the pains of slavery. They say laughter is the best medicine after all.
  • Minstrel era: the white slave owners began to watch their slaves when it was not working hours and laughing at what they observed as natural behavior while indeed the blacks were making fun of the whites by imitating them.
  • Stand-up comedians: were first recognized in 1961 and stand-up comedy continues to date. It employs call and response by engaging the audience or the comedian can deliver their act uninterrupted.
  • N-er heaven: the blacks would sit at the balconies and the whites near the theatre stage. Because black comedians connected with blacks on a majority of the jokes, the blacks would often laugh when the whites were not laughing and as a result, the blacks were warned to laugh on cue, when the whites laughed.
  • Race records: invented as a result of the unfairness in theatres and blacks could finally enjoy comedy at home and laugh when they wanted to and not on cue from the whites.
  • Comedian shows: Today comedians especially stand-up ones have their own shows like Raven Simone setting the record back in the day and many more following in her footsteps today.
  • Comedian movies: Littleton mentioned Kevin Hart and Nick Cannon who today are comedian actors appearing in comedy movies. The comedy sector has surely grown and comedians are making money now compared to the past. We can only sit and watch the next pace.

Challenges of African American art (Patton)Historical qualities of African American Comedy

  • African American art history was not taught in mainstream universities in the past and so scholars thought there were no black artists.
  • There was no useful reference for periods after 1940 about black art until 1973 with the publishing of ‘The Afro-American Artist’ written by Elsa Honig.
  • Art criticism and patronage of black art initially were not published until the period after 1973.
  • Research on African American art was ignored by scholars in academia.
  • Black women artists in the past were not trained on art and many of them did not actively pursue careers in art until 1980.
  • Chronological gaps exist in African American art, as the history is not yet complete.
  • As a result of slavery, the period between the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century has little information of black art.Historical qualities of African American Comedy
  • The participation of free African Americans is neglected and their contribution needs study.
  • The contribution of immigrants who came from South Carolina, New Orleans, and Haiti to New York City is poorly documented and needs further research.
  • Patton notes that editorial considerations sometimes leave out parts of African American art as in the case of her own book where editors left out information about her coverage on architecture, photography, ceramics, glass, and textiles in the twentieth century.
  • During slavery, the slave owners are the main recorders of the black artists ‘voice’ but did not observe anything culturally and for practical purposes nothing extraordinary about black slaves as they were particularly uninterested.