Laughter, just like music, is a universal language. However, getting a laugh can be a daunting task, so it’s great if you can make a living off of it. Every person on this list has made a name for themselves in the comedic arena, and were, in some cases, household names.
Now, not everyone on this list “fell off,” but if you’re not into following people’s careers, then this is a good source to find out where some of your favorite comedians have been. If I missed your favorites, sound off in the comment section and I’ll make sure to add this on the next go ’round.
Where are they now? Well…
Sinbad was so big in the 80s and 90s. I remember, personally, watching a live action movie about Sinbad the explorer, waiting for Sinbad the comedian to pop up in his audaciously designed blue silk shirt and blue slacks and deliver a one-liner. It never happened though…
Anyway… Not only was he able to make people laugh in his clean-cut, hilarious stand-up, he was also able to attain roles in movies like Necessary Roughness, Houseguest, and Jingle All the Way, and popular shows like “A Different World,” and had his own show “The Sinbad Show.”
Since I’m still a Sinbad fan, I’m just gonna gloss over the fact that he had some money issues, but he’s still been working. He wrote a book: “Sinbad’s Guide to Life (Because I Know Everything)” which is available on Amazon, while also still acting (recently appearing on shows like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Slacker Cats,” voice acted in the film Planes, and made the reality television rounds on the third season of “Celebrity Apprentice.” He continues to make a name for himself in stand-up, and is an active participant in encouraging minorities to pursue paths in science, math, and technology (through the NACME organization) and has the Donald and Louise Adkins scholarship for Morehouse students.
Debra Wilson, to me, is one of the hardest working women in Hollywood.
Wilson, who became wildly popular from her comedic roles on the sketch comedy show “MadTV,” (her Whitney Houston and Beyonce were very popular) has had (and still does) have an extensive work history from film, television, stage, voice acting, host, spokeswoman, and stand-up comedy.
Despite the slight set back of getting divorced in 2011, now, Debra is doing what she does best: work. She’s active in television, movies, and voice acting and has a number of productions waiting to come out this year and next. She also reminded us of how hilarious she is in this Old Navy commercial:
“Charlie Murphy!” (In my Dave Chapelle/Rick James voice.)
Charlie Murphy, the brother of popular actor and comedian Eddie Murphy had a rough life before being nationally known on “The Chapelle Show.” After his stint in the Navy, Charlie came back to his brother being a world renowned movie star and comedian. After working for his brother as a security guard, Charlie went on to act and write. He appeared in movies like CB4, Harlem Blues, Mo Better Blues, and such. He also appeared in TV shows like “Martin,” but gained prominence as a screenwriter.
But it was the stories that he shared in the writer’s room on “The Chapelle Show” that got him his own (and arguably the most popular) segment on the show: “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories.”
After, Charlie Murphy has continued to act, voice act, and toured in multiple sold out comedy tours, despite being hit with a hard blow when his wife passed due to cancer in 2010. His current tour, “The Acid Trip Tour” is going around the nation, and Mr. Murphy’s podcast “Charlie Murphy Presents” is back and in effect. Oh, and he’ll partner back with Aaron McGruder for “Black Jesus.”
In a male dominated field, Sommore has been able to carve out a long lasting niche in the comedy arena that she not only occupies, but dominates. After rocking the mic at venues like “Def Comedy,” “Showtime at the Apollo, and on The Queens of Comedy, Sommore has been making career defining moves for years, such as being the first female host of BET’s “Comic View,” and appearing and touring in the popular “Queens of Comedy” tour that actually registered in the Guinness Records for the highest rated, longest running production in the history of Showtime Network. Sommore has only continued to get better. After appearing in movies like Friday After Next, and Soul Plane, and shows like “Celebrity Fit Club,” and “Hit the Floor,” she has also participated in “The Roast of Flavor Flav,” and continued to hit popular stages throughout the world, while performing her latest acclaimed comedy stand-up entitled: “Chandelier Status.” She’s also back on the Comic View stage.
Ever wondered who popularized “Yo Mama” jokes? Look no further than George Wallace. As a child, he always desired to have a career in stand-up comedy, but put it off to go to college. After receiving degrees in transportation and marketing from the University of Akron, he soon got a job in advertising, but left it a week later to do comedy where he was hired to be a writer for “The Red Foxx Show.”
After winning awards for his comedic prowess, George Wallace only gained momentum and continued to perform on shows like: “Seinfeld,” “Moesha,” “Arli$$” and “House of Payne,” and movies like Batman Forever, The Lady Killers and Think Like a Man Too.
Through all of that, he continues to do comedy. He was a headliner for the Flamingo casino in Las Vegas, but did a private party at the Bellagio. While performing, he tripped over some loose wires in 2007 and ruptured his Achille’s tendon (I didn’t even know you could do that! Sounds extra painful!). However, it’s a good thing that “the house always wins,” because a jury awarded Mr. Wallace with $1.3 million this year. He also wrote a hilarious book, Laff It Off! I suggest giving it a try, great read!
No offense to the other Wayans (because I love them all!), but Kim was always my favorite.
We first got a glimpse of Kim Wayans in Hollywood Shuffle, but then got to really appreciate her talent in “A Different World.” But Kim was seen as the comedic genius that she is on the show “In Living Color.” Coming from the eponymous Wayans clan, she has continued to work in the entertainment field with her family, but has proven that she can be successful outside of them.
Within the years, she has been a story editor on the show “My Wife and Kids,” where she was a writer, producer, and director on the show, but she has also showcased her dramatic chops, in projects like: Pariah and “Reckless.” But she still proves that she can make us laugh in shows like “Soul Man,” “In the House,” and so many others.
She and her husband also released a book series called “Amy Hodgepodge” about a young, multiracial girl adapting to school life after homeschooling. Great series!
7Up made the phrase “Up Yours” fun to say again, and it was due to the hilarious and gifted delivery of Orlando Jones.
Jones was proving that he was comedic genius at a very young age and was able to become a comedy writer by 19. He has written for shows like: “A Different World,” “Martin,” and “Roc” while also making small appearances on those shows.
But he became nationally known when he joined the cast of “MadTV,” for its 14 year run.
After, Orlando Jones has had a successful stand up career, movie career (Drumline, Double Take, Enemies Closer), television career (“Everybody Hates Chris,” “Tainted Love,” and “Sleepy Hollow” to name a few), and he went back to his writing talents. He penned, produced, and stars in the graphic novel action comedy “Tainted Love,” and is a contributor for Huffington Post (where he ruffled some Madea fans’ feathers with an April Fools joke). Orlando Jones is still out here winning.
Thea Vidale is the proof of what happens when a person is consistent with their craft.
After a few years of performing on the stand-up circuit, Thea’s personality was so captivating that ABC decided to give her her own show, “Thea.” With the acting talents of Brandy, Jason Weaver, and Adam Jefferies, the show was well received, but was canceled after one season due to low ratings.
However, Thea has persisted and has continued to act in movies and television shows, do stand-up, and had a stint as Mrs. Benjamin, as Shelton Benjamin’s mother on the WWF/WWE where she connived and helped him win a few matches. She’s still doing stand-up, and is hilarious (and NSFW)!
How many people can say that taking a dare was beneficial for them? Eddie can!
After contemplating a career in choreography, Eddie Griffin was dared to participate in an open mic comedy night by his cousin. With the instructions to only do three minutes, Eddie actually did 45, and had the audience eating out of his hands each second he performed. After that, he bought a one way ticket to LA and never looked back.
Once Eddie’s stand-up picked up steam, acclaim, and great reviews, he went on to start acting, and was quickly pushed into leading man status with movies and shows like “Malcolm and Eddie” and Undercover Brother.
Eddie Griffin is the first celebrity that I remember being open with reality show cameras about personal struggles, and as we all know, he wasn’t the last. On “Eddie Griffin: Going Broke” the comedian detailed how he was able to blow through his fortune that was built on hard work but seemed to get everything back on track by now.
Eddie is still acting, and performing stand-up consistently. Keep it going, Eddie!