Harmon and Scott dive into the history of Moms Mabley, who was the first successful female standup comedian and had a career that spanned over 50 years. Moms bridged the gap between vaudeville and modern stand up comedy. She was also the first woman comic to play the Apollo theater and Carnegie Hall in 1962.
Moms Mabley was born Loretta Mary Aiken March 19, 1894 in Brevard, North Carolina. Moms was the original Queen of Comedy who had a lot of comedic firsts.
Check out this impressive list of creds:
-First successful female standup comedian.
-Had a career that span over 50 years.
-First woman comic to play the Apollo in 1930.
-First women comedian to head Line Carnegie Hall in 1962.
-Moms recorded 20 comedy albums in her career; though not a lot of recordings exist of the first 40 years of your career.
-Moms influenced the style of comedy legends Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx,Whoopie Goldberg (who produced the 2013 doc: Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You), and Eddie Murphy - how modeled the grandma character in Nutty Professor after her.
Moms modeled her stage character after her great-grandma,who was a former slave. Her style was clever, wise, and filled with raunchy humor. She wore frumpy mismatched dresses and would often take her teeth out..
Her old lady persona allowed her to joke about edgy topics; sex, race, politics while her gravley voice could make any line funny.
Moms ran away from home and moved to Cleveland when she was 14-years old. She was taken under the wing of: vaudeville act: Butterbeans & Susie - who had the song “i want your hot dog in my roll”
Moms started performing on the Chitlin' Circuit, which, during Jim Crow, provided venues for black performers. In 1930, she start performing at the Apollo theater, doing 5 shows a day alongside such comedy greats as. Pigmeat Markem.
In 1933, she appeared with Paul Robeson in the movie Emperor Jones
At the height of her career, she was earning $10,000 a week in 1940’s money. Her early style was storytelling and revolved on how she liked young men over old men.
Her signature line: ''Ain't nothin' an old man can do for me but bring me a message from a young man.''
Moms didn't make her TV debut until 1967 on ABC’s Stage 67. She played a maid in A Time for Laughter: A Look at Negro Humor in America - which starred Godfrey Cambridge.
She went on to make appearances on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Ed Sullivan, and the Merv Griffin Show.
Her final role was starring in the movie Amazing Grace. The movie was filmed in 1974; a year before she died at the age of 81.
Let's hear for Moms Mabley - a true comedy original!