One of the most popular comedians of his time, Redd Foxx never thought of himself as an activist but, he was most certainly an influential and powerful voice for change. He simply wanted to be authentic and help out his friends, but his reach was immense and is still being felt today.
Foxx is best known as the star of the hit television series Sanford and Son, which redefined the genre of black situation comedy and was infamous for its racial humor. Foxx used the series as an important platform and crossover tool to share African American social commentary. He insisted that portrayals of the black experience be truthful and authentic, even going so far as to use controversial language at times precisely because it needed to be real. Foxx used the show as a vehicle to support other African American comics, musicians, and actors that were having trouble finding an outlet for their work or had given up on their craft.
Prior to his series success, Foxx opened an LA comedy club. His standup material often shined a light on the incongruities of American life between blacks and whites and offered sharp, cutting observations of racial inequity. Foxx took pride and pleasure in providing a vehicle for other black artists to develop their talent and find their audience. As such, “Redd’s Place” became an institution through which many of the greats emerged ready for the world stage including Billy Eckstine, Dizzie Gillespie, Sarah Vaughn, Flip Wilson, and Richard Pryor. The latter would go on to inspire generations of new world-changing comedians from Eddie Murphy to Chris Rock to Dave Chappelle to Kevin Hart.
In the spirit of Foxx’s dedication to sharing his success with his community and creating opportunity for fellow black artists, we are proud to kick off Black History Month with this launch of Roots of Comedy - our first tribute paying respect to the godfather of comedy, Redd Foxx.