There’s nothing like those throwback TV shows that made us laugh. From The Jeffersons to Martin and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, our childhoods and lives were shaped by those iconic TV shows. Those shows made us, made us cry and brought us together as a family. The memorable characters have stayed with us long after the sitcoms ended. Check out our Top 10 funniest Black TV characters. Our list may surprise you.
JJ Evans – Jimmie Walker (Good Times)
No one made living in a Chicago housing project funnier than JJ Evans. From his famous ‘Dynomite!’ slogan to looking for the bright side of everything, JJ Evans was the star of Good Times. But JJ wasn’t a hit with everyone on set. John Amos reportedly left the show because he thought the JJ act was getting old and stereotypical. Yikes.
Jimmie Walker remained the star of the show until it ended in 1979.
Pam – Tichina Arnold (Martin)
Women are often overlooked as comedic forces, but it’s hard to ignore Tichina Arnold. Although she been acting for over 30 years, Arnold’s comedic genius is grossly underrated. She was one of the reasons Martin was so successful. Her back and forth banter with Martin made the show better and better each week. She even took the lead role when Tisha Campbell-Martin left the show in its final season. Who didn’t love Pam?
Geoffrey – Joseph Marcell (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
Will Smith may have been the star of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but Joseph Marcel’s character was the comedic relief. Geoffrey was always there at any given moment to provide a quick quip and advice anytime the Banks family needed it. Remember the time Geoffrey went on his butler’s retreat that doubled as a sex party? He was certainly one of the reasons we loved the show so much.
Mary Jenkins – Marla Gibbs (227)
Marla Gibbs has been in our living rooms for nearly 20 years. From co-staring in 11 season of The Jeffersons in the 70s to 227 in the 80s, Marla Gibbs has the Midas touch when it comes to stealing the show. The 84 year old Chicago Native remains a hot commodity and guest starred on several episodes of Scandal last season. We can’t wit to see her next role.
Bernie Mac (The Bernie Mac Show)
No one will ever compare to the brilliant Bernie Mac.
From his memorable stand up in Kings Of Comedy to stealing the scene in every hood movie from Friday to The Player’s Club and his own the hilarious Bernie Mac show, the Chicago comedian kept us in stitches. But it was the role modeled after his real life that was the funniest. As the uncle who took in the three foster kids of his drug-addicted sister, Mac’s parenting shenanigans made the show successful. Although he tragically died at the age of 50 in 2008, he remains in our hearts through syndication of the popular show.
Dee – Danielle Spencer (What’s Happening!!)
Rerun may have spent most of What’s Happening poplocking but Dee (Danielle Spencer) was stealing every scene she was in. Her iconic “Ooooohhhh!! I’m telling mama!!!” continues to be a favorite meme on social media. Sadily, Spencer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. We pray she makes a speedy recovery as she fights this disease.
Geraldine Jones – Flip Wilson (The Flip Wilson Show)
There wouldn’t have been an In Living Color or Mad TV without The Flip Wilson Show.
Airing in the early 70s, the hour long variety show broke through racial barriers and became one of the first shows starring a Black person to be really popular with white audiences. Geraldine Jones was Wilson’s signature character and her signature sayings “The devil made me do it” and “What you see is what you get” has remained in pop culture for decades. Sketch comedy wouldn’t be how it is today without this ground-breaking show and character.
Steve Urkel – Jaleel White (Family Matters)
Did I do that?
There isn’t a person in the world over 25 that doesn’t know that classic phrase from popular 90s TV show Family Matters. Steve Urkel became a global phenomenon in the 90s.From obsessively pining over Laura Winslow to aggravating Carl and destroying everything in his path, Steve Urkel was the reason why Family Matters was so successful. Remember when he became Stefan Ur-Kel? Whew.
Men On Film – Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier (In Living Color)
Who could ever forget three snaps up in a Z formation?
This skit probably would be a huge controversy if In Living Color was still on the air today. But it still remains one of the show’s most memorable sketches. The combination of Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier was comedy gold. They duo also starred in the hilarious 1994 movie Blankman but Men on Film remains their most popular work.
Tyrone Biggums – Dave Chappelle (The Chappelle Show)
Although The Chappelle Show ended prematurely, the sketches have remained a huge part of pop culture. The R.Kelly sketch and Ashy Larry skit were good but Tyrone Biggums was great. It’s like Chappelle knew exactly how to make fun of a serious issue in the community like drug abuse. Tyrone had some funny moments (remember the 5 o’clock crack giveaway?) but appearing on Fear Factor was the best. Sadly that episode is only on the box set.
Beauties, who were some of your favorite Black TV characters?