Who doesn’t love some good standup comedy? Since the beginning of entertainment history, there has always been a strong need for someone who is able to make people laugh hysterically. Comedy is a necessary part of our culture. Today marks the birth of one of the most influential, groundbreaking and side busting comedians to ever grace the stage, Redd Foxx. Now, you yourself would be a big dummy if that name doesn’t ring any bells. Redd Foxx, born John Elroy Sanford, is best known for playing “Fred Sanford” on the very successful 1970s sitcom Sanford and Son about a father and son who ran a junkyard. Throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, however, Redd Foxx made a huge name for himself as a standup comedian. He has become so influential today that even Comedy Central voted him #24 on their list of 100 greatest standup comics. In honor of his birthday, we have put together a list (in no particular order) of the top ten comedians influenced by the years of laughs brought out by the late comedy legend.
Bernie Mac– One of the original “Kings of Comedy”, the late Bernie Mac is an American favorite as far as comedians go. Over his lifetime, he was cast in countless films and had a very successful sitcom The Bernie Mac Show. In 1989, a young Bernie Mac talked his way into meeting Redd Foxx in Las Vegas, Nevada and was given the opportunity to open up for at his performance that night.
Eddie Griffin– Best known for his role in Undercover Brother, Eddie Griffin has been a face in many comedies as a witty guest feature or a hysterical main role. His connection to Redd Foxx comes from his role in the film Foolish directed by Dave Meyers. His role in the movie was designed to directly pay homage to Redd Foxx as a comedian.
Jamie Foxx– Redd Foxx’s influence on Jamie’s career is obvious. At his first open mic appearance, Foxx chose ‘Jamie’ as his stage first name to remain gender ambiguous (because at that particular club women performed first) and Foxx as his stage surname to pay homage to his comedic inspiration.
Paul Mooney– Paul Mooney has been seen most frequently as a guest on the famous Chappelle Show. He has been known as a stand up comedian and actor since the 70s and is also famous for his work as a writer on Sanford and Son and for comedian Richard Pryor.
Eddie Murphy– Not only were they co-stars in the film Harlem Knights, Eddie Murphy and Redd Foxx were personal friends. Eddie Murphy has always been open about his influences, namely Redd Foxx, and even paid for Redd Foxx’s funeral in whole when he passed in 1991.
Chris Rock– This titan of comedy has not been shy about his love for Redd Foxx. On his popular sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, Rock cited that Redd Foxx was the reason he got into comedy. In an episode, you can see Rock listening to his parents Redd Foxx record and re-telling the jokes at school as the start of his joke telling legacy.
Robin Harris– For those who don’t know, Robin Harris is the comedic mastermind behind hit movie BeBe’s Kids. In the book Love, Peace, and Soul: Behind the Scenes of America’s Favorite Dance Show: Soul Train: Classic Moments by Erika Blout Danois, Harris is cited as a protégé to Redd Foxx while being signed to Don Cornelius before branching out to a solo career.
Tracy Morgan– The star of the now off the air hit 30 Rock has mentioned in interviews his influence by Redd Foxx. His likeness in style to Foxx is so apparent that he has been asked to be casted as Redd Foxx in the upcoming biopic of Richard Pryor. More news on the film will surface in the coming months.
Dave Chappelle– Dave Chappelle has been known as one of the funniest comedians of the 2000s and possibly of all time. On his show, he frequently is scene wearing graphic t-shirts sporting the faces of influential black figures to his life and career. One face that can be noticed is that of Redd Foxx. It is also said that his style is reminiscent of Foxx in his delivery and lack of censorship when addressing social issues in the black community.
Richard Pryor– Last, but certainly not least, is Richard Pryor. He and Redd Foxx have worked together on many occasion. They have two top selling comedy albums that were huge hits in the 1970s. They have also been co-stars on the Eddie Murphy film Harlem Knights, Richard Pryor got his start at mainstream success working on Sanford and Son with Redd Foxx as a writer.