On This day in comedy on January 1, 1997 “Def Comedy Jam” aired its last episode on HBO
Produced by rap mogul, Russell Simmons, the series had its original run from July 1, 1992 until January 1, 1997. Based on the formula established at the Comedy Act Theater in Los Angeles, California, the show was originally set to have that club’s MC, Robin Harris as host, but after his untimely death Martin Lawrence was tapped for that role. The show went on to defy all odds. Despite its raw, in-your-face barrage of 3 black comedians, it not only became must see TV every Friday night; it also changed the comedy landscape in film and television for years. Relative unknowns before their “Def Comedy Jam” exposure, comedians such as Steve Harvey, Jamie Foxx, Bernie Mac, Chris Tucker and others dominated the mediums.
The show was criticized for excessive foul language and negative representations of African Americans by letter writers and celebrities like Bill Cosby; at the time known as “America’s Dad”. However the public embraced it and it returned on HBO’s fall lineup in 2006. It produced a spinoff called Loco Slam and has been spoofed on In Living Color, Robert Townsend’s Townsend Television and Saturday Night Live.
Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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