The evolution of Black comedy in the U.S., and its efforts to challenge injustice, will be the center of an upcoming two-part documentary from the A&E Network.
Airing on June 29 and June 30, Right to Offend: The Black Comedy Revolution is executive produced by Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat shingle and Time Studios. Mario Diaz and Jessica Sherif are co-directors and executive producers on the doc, which will be available on demand and to stream on A&E’s app and website after it airs.
Ian Orefice, Loren Hammonds and Alexa Conway are also executive producers on the doc for Time Studios, with Kevin Hart, Bryan Smiley, Pookey Wigington and Mike Stein executive producing for Hartbeat. Elaine Frontain Bryant and Brad Abramson serve as executive producers for A&E. A+E Networks holds global distribution rights for the doc.
The documentary will trace the history of Black comedy throughout the 20th and 21st century. It will highlight such performers as Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley and Dick Gregory during the era of the civil rights movement, as well as comedians from ensuing decades such as Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle; influential series such as In Living Color and Def Comedy Jam; and modern comics and creators including Key & Peele, Issa Rae, Amber Ruffin and Tiffany Haddish.
The two-parter uses interviews with comedians, as well as archival material, to trace how each generation of comedians built upon the foundations of their predecessors to push the boundaries of comedy as a means for social change, as well as to further articulate the lived experience of Black people in the U.S.