The gatekeepers to Hollywood are going to be surprised once again tonight. They are going to see some of the funniest comedians in the world on Comedy Central's The Ruckus.
Most of them they know, but they've been overlooked by many of the talent scouts saying things like, "I get them, but they are 'too black' for my audience."
I still can remember when we first aired Def Comedy Jam, twenty years ago ... everyone from Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Jaime Foxx, Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey and so many more, got their first shot at the mainstream.
America wasn’t sure what hit them. But to black people we felt we finally got a shot: real language, honest comedians (who we already knew); they were the street guys that never really got a chance to play. Def Comedy Jam was that vehicle. It gave people an opportunity to express themselves without selling out, without white washing their comedy and mainstream America loved it because it was real and authentic.
Twenty years later, I realize that there hasn’t been one black comedian to cross over since Def Comedy Jam. Even Tracy Morgan, Anthony Anderson and JB Smoove (our host) never got their fair shot at headlining a mainstream show or movie. One of the funniest new guys is Kevin Hart and they still won’t cross him over.
And all the other new comedians sit by the wayside while Hollywood creates more typical, mainstream comedy shows and there’s nothing wrong with the guys they pick. But really the giant, black comedians that come from black culture and seem "exclusively black" are the real jewels that need to be exposed to mainstream.
All of those comedians look great in their own environment, but they look much greater when they are integrated into the mainstream. Then they seem much bigger.
Example JB Smoove: the minute he got on mainstream TV he exploded. His chemistry with Larry David is magical. But now, Comedy Central is giving us the opportunity for these guys to be seen by this audience. If any agents or directors have any sense, they’re going to pick and choose the guys who have been waiting by the wayside forever ... the Earthquakes, the Capones and the Tony Roberts ... these guys that have been waiting on the sidelines for a chance to finally play in the mainstream.
Hollywood needs to wake up and look at the difference between how many people of color you see at the Grammys compared to the Academy Awards. Hollywood, the artists and much of their audiences live in or aspire to live in a "post racial America."
Tonight on Comedy Central, we will show, like we did twenty years ago, that black comedy can break down the barriers of segregated Hollywood and into the living rooms of every American across the country.
Cause when a n*gga is funny, it don’t matter what color his skin is...
Make sure you tune into Comedy Central tonight at 10PM ET/PT for the premiere of Russell Simmons Presents The Ruckus!