Black comedy has been one of the most important cultural contributions to the American stew that has ever been created by the descendants of African slaves. In 1992, that legacy was revitalized when Russell Simmons and producer Stan Latham joined forces to bring the most talented yet undiscovered black comedians of the day.
On September 26, Netflix rebirthed Def Comedy Jam for its 25-year anniversary with a comedy special that brought back some of the most famous and groundbreaking comedians the country has ever seen to celebrate their unique interpretations of black culture and the impact they had on American comedy as a whole.
Christopher “Chris” Tucker is an American actor and comedian. He is known for playing the role of Smokey in Friday and as Detective James Carter in the Rush Hour film series.
From the opening moments, it was clear that the show would go all in with paying homage to the very best of its alumni when Dave Chappelle, Sheryl Underwood, Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer took the stage together as a combined team of emcees to remind us of what was, what it spawned and why Def Comedy Jam is still relevant today.
Martin Lawrence, who hosted the show and used it as a springboard to his own stardom, was continually credited with kickstarting the careers of dozens of comedians.
Def Comedy Jam was controversial back then due to the disdain that established, veteran comedians of the day had for the language used as well as the subjects broached. Comedian Bill Cosby was one of the show’s biggest detractors.
Today the type of comedy that they brought into the mainstream still permeates throughout television and film.
Dave Chappelle. Martin Lawrence. Steve Harvey. Cedric the Entertainer. Adele Givens. Tracy Morgan. Sheryl Underwood. D.L. Hughley. Comedy’s greatest names celebrate one of comedy’s greatest institutions. Def Comedy Jam 25 is now streaming on Netflix.
Like back in the day, Def Comedy Jam at 25 saw comedians not only use their skills for laughter simply for its own sake, but to address contemporary issues like the Charlottesville riot and the current presidential administration.
Alumni like Adele Givens, Eddie Griffin, Tracy Morgan, Mike Epps, DL Hughley, Bill Bellamy and JB Smoove were among the talent that performed new material while paying homage to comedians of the past.
The show also included a mini-panel dedicated to the women of Def Comedy Jam moderated by Tiffany Haddish as well as a heartfelt tribute to fallen comedians like Bernie Mac.
This is one of the first appearances of Bernie Mac on Def Comedy Jam and he is side-splittingly funny! Obviously his standup is a far cry away from The Bernie Mac Show that the rest of the world knew him for but you can still see his great comedic timing, originality and sharp wit in this rare footage.
Combined, the total number of films that Def Comedy Jam alums have appeared in after being introduced to national audiences is so extensive that it may not be possible to include them all here.
There were no truer words were spoken that night than when Dave Chappelle stated that all comedy roads today lead back to Def Comedy Jam.