On this day in comedy on January 2, 1968, Comedian, Actor, Writer, Producer, Chris Spencer was born in Los Angeles, California.
Spencer got his start in comedy during the Black Comedy Boom of the early 1990s and developed his act at the Comedy Act Theater and other L. A. and Hollywood clubs. It was his omnipresence on stages which led to his initial film credits. He was prominently featured in Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in The Hood from the Wayans clan. Spencer played a militant with an insatiable love for white women. His other movie appearances include All About You, The Sixth Man, Two Can Play That Game and Postal.
Chris Spencer got his public notoriety from his stint as the host of Quincy Jones’ late night talk show, Vibe. The program was a spin-off from the successful magazine. The show, unfortunately, did not follow suit. Vibe was launched after Arsenio Hall had broken down the barrier for a black talk show host and he was now off the air. The landscape was ripe for a successor and several personalities threw their reputations as well as their hats in the ring: Magic Johnson, Keenen Ivory Wayans and Jones with Vibe. None of those other program hosts lasted long, but Vibe was interesting because Spencer never wanted to do it and when he did the producers never fully had confidence in their handpicked star. Like the time Bill Clinton did a segment on Vibe, it was producer, Quincy Jones who interviewed Slick Willy not host, Chris Spencer. It wasn’t long before Spencer was replaced by Sinbad and an even shorter time span for Vibe was canceled.
The multi-talented Spencer moved on to other projects. He was instrumental in the creation of Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘N Out (where he was also a writer). He co-created Real Husbands of Hollywood with Kevin Hart. His televised credits in front of the camera include Being Mary Jane, The Jamie Foxx Show, Half & Half, Soul Food and Cuts. Chris Spencer produced Get Up Stand Up Comedy in 2001 and Baggin’ in 2005. He has had podcasts (Minivan Men with Al Madrigal and Maz Jobrani), garnered award wins and traveled the world doing stand-up as well as on television (Def Comedy Jam, The Chris Rock Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!). On October 15, 2017 his co-creation with Buddy Lewis and Tom Kapinos, White Famous starring Jay Pharoah premiered on Showtime.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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