Although stand-up comedy has traditionally been dominated by males, the tides have changed over the past few decades with women taking center-stage. Particularly, some of the best Black female comedians have been at the top of their game for a while now! Many have made a significant impact on the stand-up comedy scene and paved the way for upcoming generations of performers. Not only are they funny, but they have also created a novel approach to comedy by challenging social conventions.
You know what they say — laughter is the best medicine. Going for some comedic relief might do you some good. According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Basel, laughing can actually help ease the negative effects of stress. Their study finds even cracking a smile can help ease the negative effects of stress. For participants who frequently laughed, stressful events were more related to minor symptoms of personal stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the stresses of life, just let out a chuckle or two. Apparently, people laugh about 18 times a day, usually during interactions with others or when they’re enjoying life. Sometimes you just have to laugh to keep from crying!
Among the many trailblazers is Hattie McDaniel. Best known for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” (1939), she was an American actress, singer-songwriter, and comedian. She was also the first black actress to win an Oscar. Since then, Black female comedians have been making audiences laugh for decades, bringing a unique perspective and a fresh voice to the world of comedy. From the hilarious Wanda Sykes to the award-winning Whoopi Goldberg, black female comedians are among the best entertainers today!
Experts agree that these five hilarious stand-up ladies listed below deserve a standing ovation! Each of these ladies have a distinct manner and approach to humor, but they all have the ability to make audiences laugh out loud. Our list includes suggestions from 12 expert sources to identify the best Black female comedians of all time. Don’t see your fave listed here? Let us know what you think in the comments!
The List: Best Black Female Comedians, According to Experts
1. Wanda Sykes
Wanda Sykes is undoubtedly one of the best black female comedians of our time. Her unique style of comedy is a perfect blend of wit, humor, and social commentary that resonates with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. With her razor-sharp tongue, Sykes has made a name for herself in the entertainment industry as a fearless and outspoken comedian who is not afraid to speak her mind on a variety of topics. “The former National Security Agency employee first took the stage in 1987. She eventually quit her day job and moved to New York,” writes Next Luxury. “She got rave reviews opening for Chris Rock at Caroline’s Comedy Club, eventually becoming a writer for The Chris Rock Show.”
Since then, Sykes has been in the comedy game for over three decades and has amassed a large following of fans who appreciate her unapologetic approach to comedy. She has tackled a range of social issues in her routines, including race, gender, politics, and sexuality. Her ability to make audiences laugh while also challenging their beliefs and assumptions is a testament to her talent as a comedian. “Called ‘one of the funniest stand-up comics’ by her peers, Sykes’s creds can match up — and exceed — any of her male counterparts,” says BET.
Cosmo adds: “It’s difficult to curate a list of hilarious Black female comedians without mentioning Wanda Sykes. At 56, Sykes continues to reign as one of the most popular touring comedians today.”
In addition to her stand-up comedy, Sykes has also made a name for herself as an actress, writer, and producer. She has appeared in numerous films and television shows, including “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” and “Black-ish.” Sykes has also written for several television shows and has produced her own comedy specials. “She also is a talented voice actor whose voice appeared in movies like Over the Hedge, Rio, and the Ice Age franchise,” adds MelaViews. “In 2004, Sykes was named one of the ’25 Funniest People in America’ by Entertainment Weekly.”
Best Toppers goes on to say that Sykes is, “ranked number 43 of Comedy Central’s 100 greatest stand-ups in 2007. Throughout her 21 years of performing, she has taped 3 HBO specials, including What Goes Around Comes Around, Wanda Does It, and Life With The Hooks in 2014.”
Overall, Wanda Sykes is a trailblazer in the world of comedy and a shining example of what it means to be a successful black female comedian. Her talent, humor, and fearlessness have inspired countless comedians and will continue to do so for years to come.
2. Maya Rudolph
With her unique blend of wit, charm, and impeccable comedic timing, Maya Rudolph has managed to captivate audiences worldwide. Her ability to seamlessly transition between characters and deliver hilarious impressions of celebrities is a testament to her versatility as a performer.
Maya has proven time and time again that she is a force to be reckoned with, and her contributions to the world of comedy are nothing short of remarkable. Her performances on Saturday Night Live and her role in the hit movie “Bridesmaids” are just a few examples of her comedic genius. “The daughter of a famous singer, Rudolph joined an improv troupe in the ‘90s and later joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, a post she enjoyed for seven years,” says Refinery29. “She will go down in history for playing the bride in Bridesmaids. Her impersonation of Beyoncé will forever be one of my favorites.”
“Since then, she has gone on to perform in a wide variety of comedies, taking on roles as distinct as The Judge in the popular television show The Good Place and Daniela Pagura in the Disney-Pixar hit Luca,” adds That Sister. Fun Times Magazine goes on to say, “she has voiced various characters in the Netflix animated sitcom Big Mouth, including Connie the Hormone Monstress, which won her Primetime Emmy Awards in 2020 and 2021. For her portrayal of United States senator and vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris on SNL, Rudolph won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.”
Maya Rudolph has paved the way for future generations of black female comedians, and her impact on the industry will be felt for years to come. If you’re looking for a good laugh, Maya Rudolph is definitely someone to watch out for. She is a true inspiration and a shining example of what it means to be a successful black female comedian.
Adding to our list is the hilarious Sommore. Her undeniable talent has earned her a special place in the hearts of comedy lovers worldwide. With her quick wit and impeccable timing, Sommore has repeatedly shown that she is a major player in the world of stand-up comedy. “Called the ‘diva of comedy,’ Sommore provides frank and funny commentary on the battle for equality between the sexes, sex, and money,” says Cosmo.
Her ability to connect with audiences on a personal level, while still keeping them laughing, is a testament to her skill as a performer. Whether she’s tackling social issues or poking fun at everyday life, Sommore always manages to find the humor in any situation. “The Trenton, New Jersey native is known for her bawdy humor (she frequently pontificates on a certain aspect of the male anatomy) and is a favorite among her fellow female comedians,” BET writes. “She’s been performing comedy since the early 90s, and she’s taken the stage on shows as diverse as The Parkers, Wild’N Out, and CNN Headline News,” adds That Sister.
“This is one of the women I crave to see more of,” adds Refinery29. “This raunchy comedienne started her career during the golden age of Black comedy — appearing on ComicView and Def Comedy Jam on HBO. She was also one of the stars of the Queens of Comedy tour, which was documented for a film as well.”
Her performances are a masterclass in comedic excellence, and her influence on the industry cannot be overstated. If you’re a fan of black female comedians, then Sommore is a must-see act. Her talent, charisma, and sheer comedic brilliance make her one of the best in the business, and a true icon of the genre.
4. Nicole Byer
Nicole Byer is one of the funniest and most talented black female comedians in the industry today. With her unique sense of humor and infectious personality, she has quickly become a fan favorite. Byer is known for her ability to make audiences laugh with her relatable and hilarious observations about everyday life. “The author, stand-up comedian, and actress is not exactly known for family-friendly humor, and we love her for it,” exclaims Cosmo. “She openly discusses body image, sex, and Black culture, brilliantly weaving the topics together.”
According to Legit, “Sommore is one of the best black female comedians in the industry. She makes sarcastic jokes which advocate for equality among the sеxes. Her Netflix special, The Reign Continues, has taken her name around the globe.”
Byer’s success is a testament to her hard work and dedication to her craft. “Nicole Byer is a comedian, actress, and television host,” adds Fun Times Magazine. “She is known as the host of the Netflix comedic reality bake-off series Nailed It!, for which she received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Byer gained recognition for her work in the commentary series Girl Code. Byer’s first full-length special, Nicole Byer: BBW (Big Beautiful Weirdo), premiered on Netflix in December 2021 and earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special.”
Next Luxury adds: “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.”
If you haven’t had the chance to see Nicole Byer perform live or watch her shows, you’re missing out on one of the best comedic experiences out there.
5. Leslie Jones
This list wouldn’t be complete without the comedic powerhouse, Leslie Jones. Not only is she hilarious, but she is also breaking down barriers for black female comedians everywhere. Jones got her start on Saturday Night Live, where she quickly became a fan favorite with her bold and unapologetic humor. “She started doing stand-up comedy in 1987 and was a cast member and writer on SNL from 2014 to 2019,” says Briefly. “In 2017 and 2018, Jones was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on SNL,” adds Fun Times Magazine. She has since gone on to star in movies like “Ghostbusters” and “Coming 2 America”, proving that she can hold her own on the big screen as well.
“Long before she was a writer and cast member on Saturday Night Live, Jones was boo’d off the stage while opening for fellow comedian Jamie Foxx when he was still doing stand-up,” writes Refinery29. “Given that she has since been personally invited to provide coverage of the Rio Olympics and starred in the all-girl remake of Ghostbusters, I think it’s safe to say that she has licked her wounds.”
But Jones’ impact goes beyond just her talent. She has spoken out about the lack of diversity in the industry and has used her platform to amplify the voices of other black comedians. It’s time for the world to recognize the incredible talent of Leslie Jones and the many other black female comedians who are making their mark in the industry. By supporting their work and giving them the opportunities they deserve, we can help to create a more inclusive and diverse entertainment landscape. So let’s celebrate the best black female comedians and continue to push for more representation in comedy and beyond.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Comedy Movies Of All Time
- Best Comedians
- Best Female Comedians of All Time
- Best Black Female Actors
- Next Luxury
- That Sister
- Best Toppers
- Fun Times Magazine
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