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​13 Black Women Slaying The Comedy Game

They keep us laughing, inspired and woke with their commentary and talents.

Culture & Entertainment

When it comes to representing for black female comedians, these women are not only funny, but they are about their business and building bridges for other black women to come up and succeed. They have been part of some of the most hilarious moments in TV and film, and several continue to hold their own in entertainment. Check out 13 femme phenoms slaying the comedy game:

Quinta Brunson

If you've never seen her self-produced series The Girl Who Has Never Been on a Nice Date, you are truly missing out on some good laughs and relatable tea. Quinta Brunson, a writer, producer, comedian, and actress, has also produced and acted in BuzzFeed Video content and developed streaming series with BuzzFeed Motion Pictures. Her voice has recently been featured on Netflix's Big Mouth and Adult Swim's Lazor Wulf.

Tiffany Haddish

We are so here for our favorite "We Ready" sis who continues to glow up in Hollywood. From her start being consistently featured in works including Real Husbands of Hollywood, and The Carmichael Show, to her breakout role in Girls Trip and on to Night School, The Last OG and Self Made, Tiffany Haddish has done nothing but flourish and rise. She made history as the first black female stand-up comedian to host Saturday Night Live in 2017, and landed a big deal with Groupon as a spokeswoman. Today, the best-selling author is paying it forward with the launch of an internship program and has an upcoming project with legends Billy Crystal and Sharon Stone called "Here Today".

Amanda Seales

We loved her as the well-put-together mom and friend on Insecure, and she's a multi-hyphenate who proves that you don't have to box yourself into one lane. The former MTV VJ and The Real talk show host now leads the Small Doses podcast and Smart Funny & Black (SFB) Entertainment, and she does not hold her tongue when it comes to commentary. Amanda Seales recently partnered with Bumble to launch Dating in Boxes, an improv series about romance and social issues.

Ashley Nicole Black

An Emmy-winner in her own right, Ashley Nicole Black has career receipts that include writing for the TBS late-night show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and being a featured actress and writer for HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show. She's also appeared on Comedy Central's Drunk History, and the 2014 film An American Education.

Jasmine Luv

Jasmine Luv got her start on social media more than four years ago, and after her videos went viral, she was named one of the "top influencers" by VH1 and an "It Girl" at the 2018 BET Social Awards. She now has more than 1.3 million followers on Instagram alone, has gained features in projects sponsored by companies like AT&T and has served as a red carpet host for the NAACP Awards.

Nicole Byer

Nicole Byer is super-funny as host of Netflix's Nailed It---which got her an Emmy nomination---and she's featured on the streaming platform's series Comedians of the World. She's also hosted a slew of podcasts including Why Won't You Date Me? and 90-Day Bae that will literally have you laughing all the way out loud.

Luenell

One of our favorite aunties has been showing us what true confidence is---rocking the hell out of Savage x Fenty lingerie both online and in a live show----and she recently appeared in an episode of Power Book II: Ghost, the spin-off to Starz's Power series. She's held down a successful career in comedy for more than 20 years and has been featured with the likes of Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name), Lady GaGa, Beyonce ("Telephone" video), Rickey Smiley, Master P (I Gotthe Hook-Up 2), Snoop Dogg, Martin Lawrence, Katt Williams and Kevin Hart. She's set to appear alongside Murphy again in Coming 2 America next spring.

LaLa Milan

When LaLa first hit the scene, you could not scroll through your feed without seeing a viral video featuring her crazy reenactments of pop culture and celebrity moments and her videos that make you laugh until you cry, and she's since grown her online following to more than 3.4 million. Her role as part of the cool and accomplished crew of Boomerang, a spin-off of the Eddie Murphy classic, was the perfect addition to the show, and she's always refreshing to watch hosting red carpet interviews. She's been a Savage x Fenty ambassador, did a legendary virtual table read directed by Sanaa Lathan and featuring heavyweights like Cedric the Entertainer and Wayne Brady, and now hosts a podcast called The Salon.

Sommore

One of the "Queens of Comedy", Sommore has sold-out shows and been featured in her own Netflix special Sommore: The Reign Continues. She's also been in cult classics including Ice Cube's Friday After Next, Family Reunion, and Soul Plane. She remains engaged with her more than 950,000 followers on Instagram, has been featured on shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The View. She continues to tour both domestically and internationally, keeping the grind and hustle going.

Jessica Williams 

She got her claim to mainstream fame as the senior correspondent on The Daily Show and was co-host on the hilariously engaging podcast 2 Dope Queens with Phoebe Robinson. She also starred in Netflix's The Incredible Jessica James, and HBO's Girls, giving us depth, laughter, and a much-needed sprinkle of black girl magic. She will expand her role from the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in part 3 of the franchise, set to release in 2021.

Naomi Ekperigin

Naomi Ekperigin uses comedic savvy and tell-it-like-it-is candor to talk about issues that hit home, from racism to capitalism to the pandemic, and co-hosts Couple's Therapy podcast with her beau. The actress, stand-up comedian, and writer has appeared on MTV, VH1, and FX's Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, and her insights have been seen in Huffington Post and on VanityFair.com. She's also worked as a writer on Comedy Central's Broad City and Difficult People.

Sasheer Zamata 

In 2014, Sasheer Zamata made headlines after becoming the first black woman to join the main cast of SNL since Maya Rudolph's 2007 departure, and she made a name for herself hosting with Drake and impersonating top entertainers like Rihanna, Solange, and Nicki Minaj. She's been a featured actress in Hulu's Woke and Netflix's The Last OG, and she now co-hosts a podcast with Nicole Byer called Best Friends.

Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones has been an Emmy-nominated comedian and a staple on the Saturday Night Live cast. She's also had her own Showtime special, Problem Child and has been a featured performer at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal and the Aspen Comedy Festival. She raised more than an eyebrow starring in the reboot of Ghostbusters in 2016, and owned the screen as a spirit-slaying part of a landmark all-female team. She now hosts ABC's reboot of Supermarket Sweep, adding quirky fun and excitement to the modern remake.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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