5 Black Comedians: A Study

I think I’ve mentioned this a few times, but nothing makes me happier than using my B.A. and 1/4ths of a M.S. to do “scholarly research” on “unscholarly things”.  It’s my way of saying “Thank You” to every stats professor I’ve ever had, albeit in a extremely rude way.

Although I am not, and never will be, a stand-up comedian, there are a few Black comedians who’s stand-up specials have changed my life. Most of them I probably heard at too young of an age, and I’m extremely grateful for that fact.  Much of what I think is funny in the world comes from these 5 comedians and certain parts of their various standups.

Something I’ve always been fascinated with is how Black comics use the n-word.  Depending on the audience, the story that the comic is telling, and the era in which they were performing, the word is used in very different ways.  I’ve been aware of this for a while now, but have never sat down and really measured it.

RESEARCH TIME ** RESEARCH TIME ** RESEARCH TIME ** RESEARCH TIME

Rules of The Experiment:

5 Black Comedians:

Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Katt Williams

5 Stand Up Specials

“That Nigger’s Crazy” (1974), “Raw” (1987), “Bring the Pain” (1996), “Killin’ Them Softly” (2000), “Pimp Chronicles, Pt. 1″ (2006)

Take my favorite 20 minute segment from each standup.

Count the number of times they say the n-word (or some variation) in the 20 minute segment.

RESULTS

Before I start talking about the results, I should point out that this was easily the most fun activity of my year, thusfar.

These are 5 of my favorite, most quoted stand-ups ever and this entire exercise was just an excuse to watch them.  Okay, let’s talk about this chart.

Eddie Murphy = 0

I didn’t expect this.  I’ve seen Raw probably 12 times from beginning to end, but I could have sworn he threw the word around here and there.  This 20 minutes was the beginning of the stand-up, including the bit about Mike Tyson, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, wanting to sound just like Richard Pryor when he was a kid, and foreigners approaching him on the street.  Maybe he did say it, but I was just so distracted by his Blue snake-skin 2-piece cat suit that I forgot to mark it down.

Dave Chappelle = 8


I thought it would be more, simply because of the frequency it’s used in his TV show.  He rarely uses it when he’s talking in his own voice. He tends to reserve it for the times he’s playing characters, be they racist cops or Black babies on the corner selling drugs.  The 20 minutes I used were also the beginning of the stand-up, including his bits about the DC getting less Black, getting pulled over by the cops, getting abandoned in the projects and having an encounter w/ a baby.

Line I think everyone should be able to say:

“Well, Nigga, sometimes you just gotta race…”

Chris Rock – 39

“Bring The Pain” is so good.  Although “Bigger and Blacker” is perhaps his most critically acclaimed stand-up, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for his ’96 special. I used a 20-minute clip from the middle of his stand-up, and in 7 of those 20 minutes, he says “niggaz” 39 times.  I used this segment, because encompasses his famous “Black People vs. Niggaz” segment.  This is the only time in “Bring the Pain” that he uses the n-word, but when he does, he goes off.

Line I think everyone should be able to say:

“When I go to the money machine tonight, I ain’t lookin over my back for the media.

I’m lookin for Niggaz.”

Richard Pryor – 52

It’s a well known fact that none of these other comedians would exist if it weren’t for King Pryor.  Even though his views on casually using the n-word changed as he got older, in 1974 he was all about it.  He pretty much used “nigga” interchangeably with “person”.  I still think it’s remarkable that he named his album “This Nigger’s Crazy” and he won a Grammy for it.  Unreal.

Line I think everyone should be able to say:

“Why don’t you get yo teeth fixed, Nigga?”

Katt Williams – 106

In 20 minutes, Katt Williams somehow used the n-word 106 times as a noun, verb, adjective, interjection, conjunction, gerund, adverb and comma splice.  As I sat there, laughing uncontrollably at the stand up, I could barely keep up with my “nig-tally”.  I can’t do math too well, but I’m pretty sure that breaks down to more than 5 times a minute.  After 3 minutes, I was already at 28 and I was sure by 20 minutes I would be approaching 500.  While Katt has yet to officially reach the level that Chappelle, Pryor, Rock, and Murphy have reached, I have no problem in saying the first 20 minutes of “Pimp Chronicles, pt. 1″ is the best stand-up opening I’ve ever seen.  Not one dull moment.

I can’t decide how much of that can be attributed to the fact that he’s hilarious, has a perm, and is dressed like a Leprechaun, and how much of that is because he says “nigga” 104 times and “niggadom” 2 times.  The jury’s still out.

Line I think everyone should be able to say:

“It’s Cryptichronicunnilight, Nigga”

 

Like the old saying says, “There’s nothing like a significant contribution to the scientific community to brighten up a Friday.”

Got to love the old sayings.

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About Rembert Browne

NYC via ATL //// rembert.browne@gmail.com 500daysasunder.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in "Scholarly Research", 10 Most Popular, Rando. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 5 Black Comedians: A Study

  1. Onyi K. says:

    HAHAHA! this was hilarious! I love all of those comedians and laugh and cringe simultaneouly when I hear Katt Williams.

    Eddie Murphy says f*ck in Raw as many times as Katt Williams says the n word in a 20 minute segment…I am pretty sure of that.

    I think if you added a paragraph or two about your interpretation of the data(the decade and n word use correlation) that might make it even more hilarious, I was expecting that by the end. This definitely counts as research!

  2. It’s amazing in favor of me to have a website, which is valuable designed for my know-how. thanks admin

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