The 14 Funniest Black Female Comedians
Everybody loves to laugh and there is no better way to have a giggle than by watching stand-up. While the list of stand-up comedians is vast, there has been a rise in black female comedians over the past decade. Now rivaling their male counterparts, these women are taking the comedy world by storm with their talents.
Not only are these women ruling at stand-up, but they are making waves in other areas of the entertainment world. Many are branching out into the movies or starring in their own TV shows. So whether you like a classic stand-up set, political satire, or cultural comedy, these 14 black female comedians will have you laughing out loud.
1. Tiffany Haddish
Tiffany Haddish had a tough upbringing but has managed to overcome those obstacles to forge ahead with a successful career in comedy. She was placed in foster care at a young age and struggled at school. By the time she graduated she was homeless and living in her car. At the age of 17 her counselor gave her two choices: either attend psychiatric therapy or the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp. Haddish chose comedy. She soon found herself embarking on a career full of laughs.
She attributes the likes of Richard Pryor, Dane Cook, Charles Fleischer, and the Wayans to her success. Haddish first got noticed in the NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show before really making it big with Girls Trip. Along with all the hit movies and TV shows she’s starred in, Haddish also won a Primetime Emmy Award for hosting Saturday Night Live, published a memoir, The Last Black Unicorn, and became only the second African-American woman to win a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album with Black Mitzvah in 2019.
2. Wanda Sykes
For 35 years Wanda Sykes has been making audiences laugh. The former National Security Agency employee first took the stage in 1987. She eventually quit her day job and moved to New York. She got rave reviews opening for Chris Rock at Caroline’s Comedy Club, eventually becoming a writer for The Chris Rock Show. Sykes has written and performed several successful stand-up shows, appeared in dozens of movies, and been a mainstay on a variety of TV series, including Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Other Two. Sykes popularity even saw her host the 94th Academy Awards where she got to witness Will Smith slapping her friend Chris Rock.
3. Nicole Byer
Best known as the host of the baking show Nailed It!, Nicole Byer is also a successful stand-up. Telling USA Today her influences include Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Turner, and Mo’Nique, Byer’s comedy is a mixture of body positivity, cultural observations, and sexual themed jokes.
While she has only starred in a few films, Byer is big on TV. As well as hosting Nailed It!, she co-hosts Wipeout with John Cena and features in ongoing series Home Economics and Grand Crew. Not only is she funny on-screen, but Byer has also found her niche in the podcast world. Along with being a guest on almost 100 different pods, she hosts four herself; Why Won’t You Date Me?, Best Friends!, 90 Day Bae, and Newcomers. Byer is one busy woman who also happens to be hilarious and is well worth checking out.
4. Moms Mabley
One of the first black female comedians to make her make was Loretta Mary Aiken, aka Moms Mabley. Getting her start in the theater during the 20s, Mabley soon found success with her comedy. Her most successful period came during the 50s when she adopted the character of Moms Mabley. This character was an elderly looking woman whose appearance was non-threatening, allowing Mabley to instill her stand-up with topical themes many comedians at that time would shy away from.
She hit her peak in the 60s when she began appearing on talk shows and received rave reviews for her performance at Carnegie Hall in 1962. Along with being one of the original black female comedians, Mabley was also one of the few lesbian comedians, making her a true trailblazer for women comedians.
5. Robin Thede
There isn’t much Robin Thede hasn’t done. The American comedian, actress, and writer has performed stand-up, written TV shows, starred in films, and won several high-profile awards. The is also the first African-American woman to be head writer for a late-night talk show (The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore), which is some achievement. She has performed with sketch comedy tropes Second City Chicago and LA, Improv Olympic, and has created a handful of hilarious YouTube videos that have garnered millions of hits. She is also the creator, writer, and star of A Black Lady Sketch Show, a sketch show featuring a host of black female comedians.
6. Amanda Seales
Most know Amanda Seales from her role in the Issa Rae created Insecure, but the Californian native is also a hit on the comedy circuit. While she first got into the entertainment world as VJ, rapper, actress, and podcaster, she is now focusing on her comedy. She released her first HBO special I Be Knowin’ in 2019 and also hosts the podcast Small Doses. She published her first book, Small Doses: Potent Truths for Everyday Use, the same year as her comedy special and is quickly building a cult fanbase who love her comedy that merges social commentary with music and raps.
7. Gina Yashere
The first non-American to feature on this list is the wonderful Gina Yashere. While well known in her homeland of Britain, Yashere really made her mark when she moved to America, where she now resides. Accolades in her career so far include being the first Briton to perform on Def Comedy Jam and writing and starring in Bob Hearts Abishola, the first American sitcom to feature a Nigerian family. She has released several stand-up specials, with Gina Yashere: Laughing to America taking aim at former American President Donald Trump and Skinny Bitch featuring her observational comedy on current events.
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8. Amber Ruffin
First performing in a local theater production, Amber Ruffin soon found herself moving to Amsterdam to hone her craft with the comedy troupe Boom Chicago Amsterdam. On her return to America, she hooked up with the famous group The Second City. As she began to get more recognized for her work on stage, Ruffin started fielding offers to write for a variety of shows, eventually being offered a job as part of the writing team on Late Night with Seth Meyers in 2014. She also has her own sketch show on Peacock, The Amber Ruffin Show, has written a book with her sister entitled You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism, and is also writing a Broadway musical.
9. Maya Rudolph
The daughter of iconic singer Minnie Riperton, Maya Rudolph is one hilarious woman. While she might not be as active on the stand-up scene as she once was, Rudolph is still highly respected amongst her peers. She started with improv troupe the Groundlings before getting her first big break on Saturday Night Live. She featured on the comedy show for seven years and still makes regular appearances, with her portrayal of Vice President Kamala Harris a standout. Rudolph has a very successful acting career and has appeared in the likes of Bridesmaids, Inherent Vice, and Licorice Pizza.
10. Jasmine Luv
Social media star Jasmine Luv is part of the new breed of comedians making their presence felt online. The Instagram influencer started posting funny videos to her account in 2014. Since then she has attracted a whopping 1.4 million followers to her Instagram, where she posts funny and relatable videos, endorses products, and allows fans a glimpse into her private life with her husband. While she might not have the profile of some of the other comedians on this list, VH1 did label Luv as the best black female comedian on the Internet. Expect big things from Luv in the coming years.
Known as the ‘Diva of Contemporary Comedy,’ Sommore’s comedy is often risque and deals with sexuality, race, equality, and common cultural issues. She was the first female host of BET’s stand-up showcase ComicView and one of the four comedians that headlined The Queens of Comedy tour, alongside Mo’Nique, Laura Hayes, and Adele Givens. The tour was a massive success and led to a comedy film focusing on the tour. She has released five well-received stand-up specials, with her most recent, All The Queens Men, finding her hosting a comedy night with a bunch of male comedians.
12. Jessica Williams
Making her stand-up debut on The Daily Show kicked off Jessica Williams’ hugely successful comedy career. She went on to become the youngest ever correspondent at the age of 22 to feature on The Daily Show before quitting in 2016 after 141 episodes. The free time allowed her to start the podcast 2 Dope Queens with good friend Phoebe Robinson. Although it only lasted two years, the show spawned two HBO special series, a spin-off podcast, Sooo Many White Guys, and helped put the spotlight on female comedians. The final episode of the podcast was an interview with Michelle Obama.
Now more focused on acting than podcasting or stand-up, Williams is making waves in La La Land, having been cast in Booksmart and featuring in the second and third Fantastic Beasts movies.
There isn’t much Mo’Nique hasn’t done. She is one of the most famous black women comedians on the planet. She has tried her hand at stand-up, been a serious actress, featured in plays, and hosted several television shows. Her stand-up is what got her started in the entertainment world, with Mo’Nique’s routines often addressing racial issues. She was part of The Queens of Comedy tour with the previously mentioned Sommore, and even had her own late-night talk show, The Mo’Nique Show, for several years.
Despite her success, Mo’Nique claims she was blacklisted by Hollywood after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Precious. After refusing to promote the film once her commitments were complete, Mo’Nique claims the film’s director, Lee Daniels, and producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, had a hand in blackballing her from the industry. She even got into a spat with her good friend Steve Harvey over her claims while talking with him about her career. Whatever the case, Mo’Nique remains one of the funniest women on the planet whose career continues to shine.
14. Loni Love
Loni Love had quite the career change when she decided to give stand-up a crack. After graduating high school, she got a job working for General Motors on the assembly line putting doors on 1993 Oldsmobile Cutlasses. This sparked an interest in electrical engineering. While studying for her bachelor’s degree, Love entered a stand-up comedy competition and ended up winning, igniting another passion inside her.
While working as an engineer at Xerox, Love played the comedy club scene and slowly built a name. She was a regular at the Laugh Factory and after eight years at Xerox, quit to follow her comedy dreams. This proved the right decision, with Love soon appearing on the VH1 show Love the 2000s and finishing second on Star Search 2003. She is currently one of the co-hosts of The Real. She has also been a recurring judge on the last two seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
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