There is no better cure for a low spirit than a good laugh, and that is what the best black comedians promise. They are good at making anyone who watches them laugh, be it through standup comedies or sitcoms. From old school faces like Steve Harvey and Martin Lawrence to fresher faces like Trevor Noah and Tiffany Haddish, there is a perfect comedian for every generation.
These laugh masters can act foolish and crack stupid jokes just to make you smile. Their purpose is to entertain, and they earn a living from it.
Best black comedians of all time ranked
Here are the 10 best current black comedians:
10. Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah is a South African-born standup comedian who is arguably the most accomplished African comic. His highlight year was 2015 when he succeeded John Steward as The Daily Show host. His first guest at the popular show was fellow comedian Kevin Hart.
Trevor Noah was born in Soweto, South Africa in 1984. He was born to a German-Swiss father and South African mother. At the time, such unions were not allowed because of the apartheid rule.
To avoid being segregated by the regime, his parents were forced to hide their relationship. Most of Trevor’s jokes are centered on his experience growing up under the apartheid system.
Noah developed an interest in comedy when he was in his 20s. His friends would dare him to get on stage whenever they went out. After doing it so often, his talent as a standup comedian blossomed.
As a young comedian in a cross-cultural nation like South Africa, Trevor had one thing that many comics lack – the ability to speak several languages eloquently. That meant he could tailor the content of his comedy to suit a particular audience.
In 2009, the black comedian shot his first-ever one-person documentary, The Day Walker. He also hosted the 3rd Annual South Africa Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) that year.
In the following year, he launched his show called Tonight with Trevor. The show debuted on Mzansi Magic and M-Net, two of Africa’s leading TV channels.
Tonight with Trevor opened opportunities for Noah to make appearances in The Late Show, Night Show, and eventually The Daily Show.
After a successful debut season hosting The Daily Show, Trevor released his autobiography, Born a Crime, which would end up being a New York Times bestseller.
Who is the highest paid African American comedian? Trevor Noah is one of the highest paid comedians according to Forbes. In 2019, Trevor Noah made $28 million.
9. Tiffany Haddish
Having begun her comedy career playing supportive roles in shows, Tiffany Haddish has earned a spot among the best black female comedians of this generation. The hilarious actor and comedian is also an exciting author who captures the hearts of so many black women readers.
Haddish was born in Los Angeles in 1979. She pursued comedy because of a painful experience. Her mother got involved in a car accident and suffered a brain injury. According to Tiffany, comedy was the only way to make her smile.
Tiffany’s highlight year was 2017 when she starred in Girls Trip. Her role in the comedy earned her an Emmy Award the following year.
In the same year (2017), Haddish had a memoir out, The Last Black Unicorn. She got the title from her painful childhood experience. Haddish was picked on for having a 'funny' forehead, and this resulted in her earning the nickname ‘unicorn.’
The memoir, nonetheless, is not all sad. In the book, Haddish also shares life tips she got from self-help books and YouTube.
Standup comedy was not easy for Haddish. She, at one point, was homeless in LA and could only sleep in her car.
Luckily, she met Kevin Hart in LA at the Laugh Factory, who helped her get off the streets. She went on to perform in sketch comedies like Def Comedy Jam, Who’s Got Jokes, and Underground.
It is TV, however, where the charismatic, beautiful, American comic made a name for herself. She performed well as a supporting actress in That’s So Raven as well as My Name is Earl.
Haddish would later feature in BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood as well as Tyler Perry’s hit drama series If Loving You is Wrong.
8. Sherri Shepherd
Sherri Shepherd is another smart, bold, and hilarious character on stage. The black female comedian was born in Chicago in 1967. She began standup comedy in 1990 while working as a secretary in a legal office.
She was crazy about making people laugh that she even quit her secretarial job to try and make it as a humorist. Her first gig, Cleghorne, came 12 days after leaving her job. Unfortunately, the series only lasted one season, and Sherri had no other choice but to return to her old secretarial job.
That, however, did not stop her from pursuing comedy. She released her first standup comedy CD/DVD, No Refund, No Exchange, in 2006. The release was followed by It’s My Time to Talk in 2013.
On any stage that she steps on, Sherri Shepherd owns it. She has a magnetic personality and a delightful smile.
Her highlight in Hollywood was in 2009 when her show, The View, earned her an Emmy Award. That same year, she was recognized by Forbes as the 11th Most Influential Woman in Media.
As if that was not enough in a single year, Time Magazine listed her among the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Sherri produced Sherri On Lifetime, a sitcom. Other comical shows that she has starred in include Everybody Loves Raymond, Suddenly Susan, and Less than Perfect.
Sherri Shepherd is also a decorated author. Her books, Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes is a bestseller. The book was inspired by her battle with diabetes.
Sherri separated from her husband Lamar Sally in 2014 following multiple infidelity cases. Before Lamar, Sherry was married to Jeff Tapley, but they divorced in 2005.
Following a challenging experience of raising a disabled child, Sherri has joined hands with YAP National Institute to create awareness and advocate for the rights of children with special needs.
7. Lori Ann Rambough (Sommore)
Sommore is one of the most renowned black women comedians. She was born in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1966. She attended Pennington School and Trenton Catholic Academy before taking Business Administration and Mathematics at Morris Brown College.
As an actress, Sommore has appeared in several TV shows such as Dirty Laundry, Something New, The Parkers, Friday After Next, The Queens of Comedy, and Soul Plane. As a comedian, Sommore has graced so many comedy shows such as Comic View, Comedy Central Roast, and Showtime at the Apollo.
She has also appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Mo’Nique Show, and The Tonight Show. Her show, Sommore: The Reign Continues, aired exclusively on Netflix. She was one of the participants during the 6th edition of Celebrity Fit Club, where she lost at least 11 pounds.
Sommore has also featured in Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, Hit the Floor, Comics Unleashed, and Just for Laughs. She has also done several standup specials, such as Sommore: Chandelier Status and Sommore: Fun Non-Amously Famous.
Some of the most-watched videos on her site include I Love Drama, Deaf Comedy Jam, and Certified Funny. Sommore is undisputedly one of the Queens of Comedy.
She is an acclaimed veteran of the standup game and an authentic black female entertainer. With an overwhelming combination of sassiness, fun, and audacity, Sommore is just what the lowly spirited audience needs to have a better day.
She is a dose of laughter that both the old and new generation finds attractive. She is flattered by her critics, loved by her fans, and saluted by her peers whenever she does comedy.
Her highlight was in 1994-1995 when she hosted BET’s Comic View. It was also in 1994 when she was recognized with the Richard Pryor Award. Following a record attendance during his 2000 Atlanta show, Sommore earned a place in the Guinness World Record Book.
Sommore is also known for producing The Queen Stand Alone that attracted more than 800,000 viewers. Furthermore, she is a successful entrepreneur.
6. Monique Angela (Mo’Nique)
Born in 1967, Mo’Nique is one of the famous actresses and black female comedians today. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and she is currently married to Sidney Hicks. Initially, Mo’Nique was married to Mark Jackson, but they divorced in 2001. She has four children.
Mo’Nique is not just an actress and comedian but also a great talk show host and author. She attended the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland, where she developed an interest in standup comedy.
Mo’Nique stepped on stage for the first time in her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Her debut went better than she expected.
On TV, Mo’Nique is popularly known for the 1999-2004 comedy series, The Parkers. She has also appeared in Ugly Betty, Domino, Beerfest, and Precious.
As a standup comic, Mo’Nique likes to talk about race. She has graced so many venues as a standup comedian, including the 2010 Montreal Just for Laugh Festival.
As a TV host, Mo’Nique is famously known for hosting Mo’Nique: Fat Chance and Flavor of Love Girls, just to name a few. Mo’Nique is also known for her 2007 I Coulda Been Your Cellmate documentary that is about women in detention.
She has her talk show, The Mo’Nique Show, where she talks about issues facing women and the community at large. Mo’Nique’s book, Skinny Women Are Evil, is a bestseller. She also has a cookbook; Skinny Cooks Can’t Be Trusted, which is doing well on the market.
In 2003, 2004, and 2007, Mo’Nique hosted the BET Awards. She is a nominee of a 2009 Grammy.
Mo’Nique’s highlight year, however, was 2010 when she received a BET Award. Other awards she received in 2010 include a BAFTA award, Critics Choice award, Independent Spirit award, and a Screen Actors Guild award.
5. Katt Williams
Katt Williams is a lot of things. He is one of the best black comedians, a talented singer, and a rapper. He is also an actor.
Williams was born in 1971 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He moved to the streets of Florida aged 13 to work as a street vendor while doing comedy in his neighborhood.
He would, later on, move from one city to another. By 1990, he had developed into an experienced, unique, and exciting comic.
Some of the stages that Katt has graced as a comic over the years includeThe Ice House, Hollywood Park Casino, and Comedy Club. His single standup show, Katt Williams Live: Let a Playa Play, was in 2006.
He produced The Pimp Chronicles the same year and Pimpin Pimpin two years later. To promote his two comedy specials, Katt Williams went for a nationwide tour in 2008. The tour was such a success that it was pronounced by Billboard to be the best that year.
Williams cooled off for a few years before making a comeback with another comedy special, Kattpacalypse, in 2012. Getting his fans by surprise, Williams announced that he was ending his standup comedy career.
He released Katt Williams: Priceless Afterlife in 2014r. In the music industry, Katt is known for Lames in the Game, a song that disses Trinidad James, a rapper.
He also has a personal album known as It’s Pimpin Pimpin. Katt won the 2018 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Primetime Emmy Award and was nominated for a 2007 Teen Choice award.
4. Martin Lawrence
Most people know Martin Lawrence from comedy movies like Bad Boys (where he stars alongside Will Smith) and Big Momma's House. Other than being one of the best black comedians male and actor, Martin Lawrence is a movie producer, scriptwriter, and talk show host.
Martin Lawrence was born in 1965 in Frankfurt, Germany. Lawrence developed an interest in standup comedy when he was 8.
After noticing his talent, his teacher advised him to try comedy at a local spot. The appearance saw Martin land a chance to host Def Comedy Jam.
In 1992, he launched his sitcom, Martin. Martin was a mega-hit on Fox, but its final season was marred by sexual harassment allegations from Martin’s co-star Tisha.
Martin Lawrence also attributes his success to an exciting movie career. His first movie appearance was in 1989 when he featured in A Little Bit Strange.
He starred in Boomerang in 1992 and one of his old-time favorite, Bad Boys, in 1995. 2000 saw him star in Big Momma’s House.
He starred in Bad Boys II in 2003 and Big Momma’s House 2 in 2006. He also appeared in Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son in 2011 and Bad Boys for Life in 2020.
Lawrence won the 2005 BET Icon Comedy Award and in 1995 and 1996, he won the NAACP Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Award. He was also nominated for a 1996 and 2004 MTV Movie Award, a 2000 Teen Choice Award, among others.
3. Steve Harvey
Known as a relationship advisor by many, Steve Harvey started his career as one of the pioneering black male comedians. Harvey was born in 1957 in West Virginia.
He, however, grew up in Cleveland, where he attended Glenville High School before returning home to enroll at West Virginia University.
Upon graduation, Steve tried almost every job he could find. From being an insurance sales agent to a postman, Steve did it all.
Eventually, he was frustrated, and this is when he thought about comedy. He first stepped onto the stage to make people laugh in 1985.
He performed locally at first before making an appearance at the 1989 Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search. Fortunately for him, he became one of the finalists in the contest, and that is how his comic journey took off.
In 1993, Steve was offered a chance to host Showtime at the Apollo. He would host the famed syndicated show until 2000 while doing some other things on the side.
Steve started his comedy show, The Steve Harvey Show, in 1996. The show enjoyed a massive following, especially among the black community. The sitcom would air exclusively on WB Network until 2002.
When The Steve Harvey Show took a break, Steve hosted another talk show, Steve Harvey’s Big Time (2003-2005). During this time, he starred in The Fighting Temptations (2003), and in Johnson Family Vacation and You Got Served, both in 2004.
It is in The Steve Harvey Show that a great onscreen partnership developed between Steve and Cedric the Entertainer. The two began a comedy road tour that would also attract Hughley and Bernie Mac. The tour managed to rake $19 million-plus.
Steve first appeared on radio in 2000 when he launched The Steve Harvey Morning Show, his radio talk show. The daily show earned him multiple awards, including the 2007 SSyndicated Personality/Show of the Year award.
Steve is also a great film producer. His documentary labeled The Original Kings of Comedy earned $38 million-plus in revenue upon its release.
Additionally, Steve is a bestselling author. He is known for blunt relationship advice. Some of his famous books are Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment (there is a movie version), and Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep, and Understand a Man.
Steve has hosted Miss Universe, among many other significant events. He has won multiple Daytime Emmy awards over the years.
Steve is a born-again Christian who has been married three times. He has a foundation named after him that mentors young men.
2. Mike Epps
Mike Epps is one of the most famous black comedians today. Other than acting, Epps is a rapper, scriptwriter, and movie producer.
He was born in 1970 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He began his professional comedy career in 1995 when he was part of the Def Comedy Jam.
In 1999, he starred in Next Friday (alongside Ice Cube). Years later, he featured in movies like Bait, All About the Benjamins, Friday After Next, The Hangover, Fifty Shades of Black, Uncle Drew, among others.
Epps' highlight was the 2010 BET Hip Hop Awards that he hosted. 2010 also saw him release a standup exclusive, Under-rated and Never Faded.
Epps is remembered to have brought a kangaroo on stage while doing standup comedy in 2017. Though most of his fans saw the incidence to be funny, a few were distressed with the act. As a result, Epps had to make a public apology.
Though Epps is professionally a comedian, he has also featured in a few non-comical shows and movies. The most notable ones are Sparkle, where he stars alongside Whitney Houston and Bad Behavior.
Music-wise, Epps is known for Trying to Be a Gangsta, a song he wrote and produced. Others include Big Girls and Ain’t Chu You. Epps is married to Kyra Robinson, and the two have a child together.
1. Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart is an American comedian, Hollywood actor, and movie producer. Hart was born in 1979 in Philadelphia. Currently, he is one of the funniest black stand up comedians on TV.
Having started as a standup comic, Hart has also starred in Hollywood blockbusters like Jumanji (alongside Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), Think Like a Man, Ride Along, Central Intelligence, and About Last Night.
Hart had to grow up watching his father walk in and out of jail for cocaine abuse. So, Kevin was practically raised by his mom. His father Henry is now clean, and the two have reconnected.
Having had a tough time growing up, Hart mostly bases his jokes on his past. He began doing standup comedy while selling shoes in his hometown.
There were only a few comedy clubs then, and thus it was hard for him at the beginning. After trying several amateur standup shows and winning most of them, his onstage comic career began to blossom.
He released his one-person open mic album, I Am a Grown Little Man, in 2009. It was followed by Laugh at My Pain years later. Kevin would then go on a tour in 2011 to promote the album that would rake n $15 million.
The tour would be followed by a 2013 standup comedy exclusive, Let Me Explain, and What Now three years later.
Kevin Hart is one of the most sought after hosts in the world. He hosted the 2012 MTV Awards, 2015 Comedy Central Roast, and 2018 Academy Awards. He is married to supermodel Eniko, and the two have a son together.
Above are the best black comedians of all time. For anyone who is feeling bored and in need of a laugh, these funny people are worth watching. They have several movies and funny clips available online that you can stream or download.