Kenny Robinson talks history of black comedians

by | Feb 3, 2015 | News

Kevin Robinson talking to the crowd at north campus. (Shai Williamson)

Kevin Robinson giving his ‘The History of Black Comedy – Then and Now” talk at Humber north campus. (Shai Williamson)

By Shai Williamson

Black comedians through the years have impacted both comedy today and social change through the years, an audience at Humber College heard Tuesday.

Kenny Robinson came to Humber’s north campus to give his talk, titled ‘The History of Black Comedy Then and Now’.

The comedian spoke about the ways black comics have influenced present day comedy and outlined their impact on social change.

He brought up significant comedians such as Dick Gregory, Bill Cosby, Moms Mabley, Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor.

“The times they were popular in was a reflection of society,” Robinson told the crowd.

“Comedy is almost always done by the outsider who’s able to look in and see what’s there,” said Larry Horowitz, stand up comedy instructor at Humber College.

“There was a whole generation of black comics like Godfrey Cambridge, Bill Cosby, later on people like Richard Pryor who brought a whole new outsiders view to comedy. And it was revolutionary,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz said the evolution of black comedians was incredibly important and influential.

Robinson reiterated his point by giving anecdotes throughout history. One of which included the contents of a 1950s show titled Amos ‘n’ Andy show.

Although the show was amidst controversy because of its themes, language and poor portrayal of black people, it was one of the first television programs to feature a predominantly black cast.

This was both good and bad, said Robinson, as it gave black comedians opportunity and exposure, but it also portrayed the community in a negative light.

Kevin Robinson will be at Lakeshore Campus Wednesday to give the same talk.