By Knija Kendrick
The showing of “Why We Laugh” that was released back in 2009, directed by Robert Townsend and Quincy Newell, was shown on Friday, February 17th in the Student Success Center, where students can learn about the history behind black entertainment along with enjoying an interesting film.
This particular film was very informative, stating a lot of interesting facts. Moms Mabley was the first African American woman to gain the title of comedian. She was the comedian anybody around that time could laugh at but still relate to. Also, Red Fox is considered ‘The Godfather’ of modern day comedy. His comedy appealed to more than one demographic. This means he did not only attract a black audience, but hispanic and white audiences as well, and everybody enjoyed it. Another fact given was that Dick Gregory came out during the Civil Rights movement. A lot of entertainers didn’t want to go the politics route, but he chose to take on such a heavy subject and touched the hearts of whites and blacks and were able to get them to laugh about it. White American was able to laugh, learn, and think about what was going on in the world around them all at the same time.
Furthermore, In 1970 black American actors were growing rapidly, and Flip Wilson was the first African American to own, produce, and star in a series called, “The Flip Wilson Show. This film was an educational documentary for those with no insight on how black entertainment started and what it meant to those who filled the shoes of the ones who are no longer here. After watching the film Chelsea Williams, a sophomore here at TSU, stated that “this film was well put together and very inspiring to those of us who are looking to go into the entertainment field.”
At the end of the film, Dr. Keisha Brown answered questions and hosted a discussion. Some of the questions posed were:
• What do modern Black comedians owe to the past?
• How can comedy be helpful or harmful?
• How has Black comedy been influenced by legal segregation and discrimination?
• Is there a gender imbalance in the discussion of Black female and Black male comedians?
The next two movies they will be hosting are “Confirmation” on March 31st and “Fruitvale Station” on April 13th. These events will take place in the Student Success Center on the 2nd floor.