The Ethnic or Regional Comedian

Comedy that deals with race relations or regional material dates back to minstrel shows and vaudeville of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This area of comedy has undergone a complete revolution since the first minstrel shows became popular in the wake of the Civil War. In those days, a white performer put on blackface and presented a derogatory characterization of an African American, or a comic from the city played a country hick. Today, these topics are addressed with a sense of pride in one's heritage, race, or background.

In modern times, comedians like Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Dave Chappelle, Margaret Cho, George Lopez, and Carlos Mencia have addressed the sensitive topics of race relations and ethnic diversity with humor and a sense of self-empowerment.

Comedians like Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy have turned their regional Blue Collar TV style of comedy into a huge franchise. They have fans from all over the country, not just the southern states.

Comedy fans are lucky that Richard Pryor gave us so much great material. If you want a sample of his creative genius check out the 2002 CD Richard Pryor: The Anthology 1968-1992. Listen to how his career and routines evolved as society changed, and you'll realize how much his brilliant comic voice helped change society.

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