Black cinema is a collection of movies that touch on all kinds of topics. Some are inspiring, and others are thought-provoking. However, sometimes, you’re just in the mood to laugh. That’s where funny Black movies come in.
If you’re looking for a movie with a Black-centric theme and cast that will have you cracking up and feeling good, any one of the 15 best black comedy movies of all time should make you satisfied.
These films are known for their jokes, funny characters, and loveable scenes. You’ll want to watch them all. If you’re ready to get into the world of Black comedy films, keep reading for our comprehensive list of the best of them.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)
In this third collaboration between Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, the duo is accused of a murder they didn’t commit. Instead, they witnessed the killing, but that’s where things get complicated. Wilder’s character Dave is deaf, and Pryor’s character Wally is blind. So, neither of them has a complete impression of the killer.
Though some of the movie’s most hilarious scenes might offend some viewers, there’s nothing here worthy of canceling this hysterically funny movie featuring two of the best comedic actors in cinema history. Just enjoy the ride as they attempt to solve the killing and prove their own innocence.
Though Wilder and Pryor are no longer with us, their comedic genius lives on!
Set in South-Central Los Angeles, this movie features Ice Cube as Craig Jones. He’s a young man recently fired from his job for stealing. The cast also features Chris Tucker as Craig’s best friend, Smokey.
The plot of Friday is meandering, as the characters navigate the perils and pitfalls of living in South Central. Even though the story is often unfocused, that’s part of the charm!
The pace of the neighborhood serves as a vehicle for all the characters in the movie to interact as they go about their lives on the block and in the city, finding themselves in humorous and sometimes dramatic situations along the way.
Ice Cube’s fame was mainly as a rapper before this movie, but he has enjoyed more than a few roles in other comedy flicks after its premiere. Without Friday, there might not even be a Barbershop. More to come on that one soon.
I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
Speaking the phrase “I’m Gonna Git You, Sucka!” will either get you a strange look or a big smile, depending on whether or not the people you’re talking to have ever seen this hysterical parody of the blaxploitation movies of the 1970s.
The cast is filled with familiar Black faces, including Jim Brown, Isaac Hayes, Kadeem Hardison, Damon Wayans, Steve James, and the lead actor and director of the film, Keenan Ivory Wayans.
In the starring role, Wayans plays a man aspiring to be just like the heroes he’s seen portrayed on the big screen, a hero to his community like Shaft and Coffy.
Instead of finding out how tough he is, he finds out that he doesn’t have what it takes, in many ways. With hilarious slap-stick comedy throughout and some truly unforgettable performances, this movie will have you belly-laughing throughout. It even helped make Chris Rock into a household name after asking Isaac Hayes, “How much for one rib?” in a famously funny scene.
Coming to America (1988)
This movie isn’t just one of the best Black comedies of all time. It’s widely considered one of the funniest films ever made. Eddie Murphy stars as Prince Akeem, an African prince who goes to Queens, New York, to find a woman to marry without his family’s blessing.
The choices for companionship in his native country are too humble, and he wants a woman he can respect for her intellect and reason, so he must travel to America to find her.
Arsenio Hall stars alongside Murphy as his goof friend Semmi, who tracks him down under orders from King Jaffe Joffer, played by James Earl Jones. Almost every scene in this movie offers side-slapping comedy gold. There is also a healthy amount of tongue-in-cheek humor, with plenty of inside jokes about Black culture and entertainment.
If you’ve never seen this movie before, you’ll see some familiar faces from more recent films and television programming, including Eriq La Salle (ER), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction), and John Amos (Die Hard 2). You’ll also get to enjoy seeing Eddie Murphy play at least four characters. Try not to be too offended when you realize the star is playing a few parts in white-face.
Even if you’ve seen this movie already, maybe even a few times, it’s still worth a watch. Each time you watch it, you’ll find something new to laugh at, and the most familiar jokes are still side-splittingly funny. Rumor has it that a sequel is coming soon!
Brewster’s Millions (1985)
Richard Pryor was one of the most gifted comedians of all time. When he paired up with other big names in entertainment, it was often to the audience’s delight. The film Brewster’s Millions was no exception, teaming Pryor with comedian John Candy in a supporting role. The two on-screen together are comedy gold.
Pryor’s character, baseball pitcher Montgomery Brewster, seeks to spend a massive sum of money in only one month to satisfy the terms of a mysterious and secret inheritance deal that would make him incredibly wealthy. Candy plays the catcher on the team, Spike Nolan. Their chemistry on-screen helps push this rags to riches story over the top, leaving the audience in stitches.
This movie might be bittersweet, as neither of the stars is still alive. But, whether you’re looking for a new movie to watch or a trip down memory lane, this Black comedy movie features a couple of the best in their prime.
Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Anderson, Eve, and Keith David star in Barbershop. This Black comedy examines a single, extraordinary day in the life of a Barbershop and its workers and customers.
The barbershop is someplace where no subject is safe, from love and money to daily life in Chicago, and even some hot political issues of the day like the OJ Simpson trial and Rodney King.
Struggling with taxes, trying to start a recording career, and mainly failing to live up to his father’s expectations, Ice Cube, as the owner of the shop, has to find the strength to succeed.
He learns that the only way to do so is by leaning on those around him and heeding the wisdom of his father, who left him the business and taught him that something as simple as a haircut could change how a man felt inside and how he lived his life. He just needs a reminder of his values.
If it sounds too dramatic, don’t worry. There’s undoubtedly a lesson behind the jokes, but this movie isn’t a drama. Instead, it’s a true comedy with a standout cast and a bumping soundtrack. There’s even a sequel.
Blue Streak (1999)
Martin Lawrence plays Miles Logan, an unlucky ex-con with a mission: retrieve the valuable diamond he stole years ago. The only catch is he’ll have to go undercover as a cop to do it.
Fresh out of prison for the heist, he realizes that the place he hid the loot before he got caught has become a police station. He poses as a cop to gain access to the building, but he’s quickly paired for duty with a bumbling detective, played by Luke Wilson.
With his street smarts, Lawrence realizes that to gain access to the room with ‘his’ diamond, he’ll have to work the system and use his skills as a crook to convince the cops in the building that he is not just one of them, but an elite detective.
There is quite a bit of action in this movie, with shootouts, fight scenes, and car chases. But, each action scene is punctuated with bits of brilliant comedy. There are legitimate moments where you may have to stop the movie and laugh for a bit, or you might miss the next joke.
With Dave Chappelle as a supporting cast member, don’t be surprised if you’re laughing so hard you cry.
House Party (1990)
Christopher “Play” Martin will be hosting a major party at his house. Everyone will be there. However, when his good friend Christopher “Kid” Reid gets into a fight with a trash-talking bully at school, he not only gets a bit of a beatdown, Pops grounds him.
His dad’s name is actually Pops, played by Robin Harris. Since he can’t get permission to go to Play’s party, Kid has to scheme a way to sneak out and get there. Otherwise, how can he ever recover his reputation after losing the big fight? More importantly, how can he get with the girl of his dreams if he’s trapped at home?
Even though Kid seems like a mild-mannered nerd, as the film unrolls, you’ll find he has a bit of a wild side that’s just waiting to get out. With lots of scratching, beat-boxing, and even a rap battle for neighborhood supremacy, this is a solid comedy with a wholesome message.
It even birthed a bit of a franchise, with follow-up movies House Party 2 and House Party 3 hitting the silver screen in 1991 and 1994, respectively.
The Nutty Professor (1996)
Eddie Murphy has a knack for appearing in extreme costumes, and this isn’t the only movie where he does so. In fact, he plays quite a few different characters in this movie and some others on this list!
The Nutty Professor isn’t the only movie where Murphy is just about unrecognizable on screen, but it’s one of the funniest! Murphy portrays Professor Sherman Klump, a brilliant scientist with a weight problem. His costume and makeup transform him into an extraordinarily heavy-set and spectacled scientist.
Professor Klump invents a magical potion that transforms him into a thinner man, Buddy Love (Eddie Muprhy without a fat suit and makeup). In an instant, he has achieved what he’s always dreamed of! Yet his discovery comes with a price.
Along with his new, svelte appearance, the now-thinner and cooler Professor Klump becomes arrogant, condescending, and self-absorbed. Hilarity ensues as the Nutty Professor Klump becomes more reliant on his potion to woo his love interest played by Jada Pinkett Smith and simultaneously strays farther from his true self as Buddy Love.
The Nutty Professor is a remake of the 1963 film of the same name, starring Jerry Lewis. The original and the remake are both hilarious, but Eddie Murphy’s comedic and costumed genius set the modern film apart. Murphy plays at least six characters in the movie, which also stars James Coburn and Dave Chappelle in supporting roles.
Marcus Graham is the man. Portrayed by Eddie Murphy, he’s an advertising executive who has a way with the ladies. His reputation as a player precedes him in just about everything he does. However, when the beautiful Robin Givens replaces his boss as Jacqueline, he wonders if he’s met his match.
It turns out that when Marcus realizes that Jacqueline is the female version of himself and that she has treated him the way he treats the women in his life, he can’t perform at work. Becoming more and more out of sorts, Marcus is headed to ruin.
That’s when Angela (played by Halle Berry) shows an interest in the newly-vulnerable Marcus. Since she’s dating his best friend, things get complicated fast, but the jokes are never far behind.
While the movie is a bit romantic and dramatic, it’s more noteworthy as a comedy. As Marcus struggles with the ‘boomerang’ of having his treatment of women visited back on him by Jacqueline, the laughs abound.
This movie is also notable for an expansive cast that also includes some very familiar faces, including:
- Martin Lawrence
- Grace Jones
- Eartha Kitt
- Geoffrey Holder
- Chris Rock
- Tisha Campbell
- John Witherspoon
- Lela Rochon
48 Hrs. (1982)
Eddie Murphy appears quite a few times on this list, but deservedly so! In 1982’s 48 Hrs., he’s paired up with a grizzled veteran detective for a twist on the typical good cop/bad cop movie. Nick Nolte plays Detective Jack Gates, and Murphy stars as convicted crook Reggie Hammond, granted parole and assigned to assist in the apprehension of a killer.
This movie doesn’t star as many actors of color as some others on this list. However, it’s absolutely hilarious. It definitely deserves a place here because much of its humorousness comes through the lens of race. The dialogue between Nolte and Murphy is sometimes glaringly inappropriate, but the edginess is where the funniest moments are found.
Though, it’s also fair to say that many of their lines could be considered problematic by some in today’s world. The interaction between Nolte and Murphy, as their complicated relationship develops, drives the comedy and the action in this movie from the early 1980s.
The timeline is important because this movie served as the springboard for countless buddy-cop movies, some of which developed into wildly successful multi-sequel film franchises, like Bad Boys with Martin Lawrence and Will Smith. This one might have started it all.
If you like 48 Hrs., here are some other films from this genre you might want to consider looking up:
- Lethal Weapon
- Lethal Weapon 2
- Lethal Weapon 3
- Lethal Weapon 4
- Lethal Weapon 5
- The Last Boyscout
- Beverly Hills Cop
- Beverly Hills Cop 2
- Beverly Hills Cop 3
- 2 Guns
- Rush Hour
- Rush Hour 2
- Rush Hour 3
As you can see, many of these flicks had a successful run of sequels. 48 Hrs. also had one, Another 48 Hrs., which was released in 1990 and starred Murphy and Nolte in a reprisal of their original roles.
Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood’ (1995)
There were many serious and insightful films in the late 80s and early 90s that examined the American experience of living in the ‘Hood.’ The poignancy of movies like Boyz in the Hood, Menace II Society, and Juice earn them a place on other lists with titles like ‘Best Movie of the 1990’s’ or ‘Academy Award Nominees for Best Director.’
The title is a little bit long. In fact, it’s the longest movie title of 1995, but this is a quick (less than 90 minutes) movie that satirizes those serious movies we mentioned, providing laughs instead of tears for the audience.
Shawn and Marlon Wayans star as Loc Dog and Ashtray, and no subject matter is off-limits. This film isn’t a movie that’s noteworthy for intellectual examination of life in the ghetto or the socioeconomic realities of the modern American city.
Instead, it’s a hilarious joke fest bent on making irreverent jokes and poking fun at the most serious subjects examined by Black films of the late 20th-Century.
If you are not squeamish about over-the-top and uncomfortable jokes, you might even want to check out the unrated version of this movie, which has some scenes that aren’t fit for most audiences!
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Spike Lee’s influential film Do The Right Thing is a comedy, but it’s also a bit of a dramatic commentary on our culture. Based in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section in NYC’s borough of Brooklyn, even though it’s more than thirty years old, it’s still relevant and poignantly funny today.
It stars Danny Aiello, Ossie Davies, and Ruby Dee in significant roles, but the supporting cast also shines with stunning performances from Giancarlo Esposito, John Turturro, and Samuel L. Jackson. Spike Lee also appears on the screen.
The plot revolves around a long-time pizzeria owner, played by Aiello, who laments the demographic shifts in the neighborhood, with many of the Italian immigrants he grew up with moving away, replaced mainly by Black and Latin families.
When asked a mostly innocuous question by an aggressive patron, some of the simmering tensions start to boil over, and eventually, the lid blows off. There is some violence, but this movie has plenty of laughs, albeit with more intellectual food for thought than most comedies.
Cool Runnings (1993)
If you’re looking for a Black comedy that will entertain the whole family, Cool Runnings is an outstanding choice.
Starring John Candy as the unlikely coach of the even more unlikely Jamaican Bobsled Team as they prepare to compete in the upcoming 1988 Winter Olympic Games, the first-ever Jamaican team’s efforts are hampered by one simple meteorologic fact. There’s no ice in Jamaica.
The team consists of Doug E. Doug, Leon, Rawle D. Lewis, and Malik Yoba, portraying real-life group members. That’s right, based on a true story, this is a wholesome sports movie that offers some inspirational moments, as well as a ton of comical moments.
Many of the movies on this list are family films with plenty of laughs for an audience of all ages. CB4 is not one of those movies. Starring Chris Rock as a would-be rap star who assumes the identity of a local criminal (played by Charlie Murphy), this is a raunchy film with a decidedly adult-oriented theme. It’s not one for youngsters!
As Albert and his new alter-ego, MC Gusto, Chris Rock shows off the comedic genius that would become a household name. All you can do is laugh as you follow along. But plenty of mature language and subject matter might leave some sensitive viewers a bit uncomfortable.
For instance, some of the jokes are race-driven, and most of the movie is a parody of things that aren’t usually the subject of comedy. All that said, this is hands down one of the best Black comedy movies of all time.
Best Black Comedy Movies Ever, Final Thoughts
If you’re in the mood for African American comedy movies, any movie on this list is one that will have your sides hurting from laughing so hard. They’re also all part of the tapestry of Black culture, with majority African-American casts and a strong influence by modern culture and society.
You probably shouldn’t watch CB4 with your mom, but most of the others here are family films. However, some are dotted with mature content and adult humor. Anyone of any background can find a movie on this list that they’ll like.
Although these films are a bit older, they’re classics that are sure to please all ages. That’s what makes them the best Black comedy movies of all time!
They say laughter is sometimes the best medicine, so if other movies have you feeling sick, take a dose of one of the best Black comedy movies ever!