Last weekend I had the pleasure of watching Tracy Morgan tape his latest stand up special, Bonifide for Comedy Central.
As hilarious as the SNL alum was, I made an observation that stood out. As he rocked the Brooklyn audience with vulgar joke after nasty comedic tale, I noticed how much Tracy was sweating. It wasn’t unusually hot at the BAM Theater that night. The lights didn’t seem so bright.
Then it clicked. The key to Morgan’s sweat was his red leather pants and white leather jacket.
I wasn’t shocked by his gear one bit. Many of the top Black comedians from the Eddie Murphy era on have donned leather for their biggest shows.
Why do they do it? Kevin Hart said “it’s following a pattern of greats.”
Eddie Murphy: Delirious
The legend of the red leather starts here. Delirious is sheer brilliance. The jokes were amazing and diverse. They were well structured and hilarious in every way. Who can forget Eddie dancing during that epic ice cream joke? As funny as he was, Raw is often described as the one where Eddie is wearing the red leather suit. It takes a huge chunk of confidence to walk out n stage in such an attire. Swag levels were extra high that night and helped create a fashion movement that has stood the black comedian test of time.
Eddie Murphy: Raw
The leather suit for Raw was not as memorable and bright as the first stand up special. One fantastic addition though, were the black leather gloves. Eddie kept the outfit tightly fitting as he did in Raw but decided to go with the purple and black.
Martin Lawrence: You So Crazy
Martini’s selection was so 90s. An oversized black leather baseball jersey was a sign of the times. Well, not the leather. Martin was burning throughout this entire special. There was a lot of water sipping and towel use. Outside of Eddie’s red number this is the most memorable of the leather outfits.
Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker
This Grammy Award winning special was my favorite of all the Chris Rock specials and one of my favorite of all time. He brought it to Harlem so leather was mandatory. Rock went with the bright leather suit with a black tee underneath.
Kevin Hart: Seriously Funny
This was the comedy special the officially wiped away the finals stains of Soul Plane. His leather was more modern and more subtle. He had a cool black leather jacket that i could see people wearing. This stand up show definitely elevated Hart to a higher level.
Not every top Black comedians post Eddie were wearing leather.
Katt Williams sweat like he wore leather but perhaps that was due to umm due to other substances. Katt’s downfall might have been the fact that he didn’t wear leather. I’ve never seen a pimp in full leather but some sacrifices have to be made.
Dave Chappelle didn’t rock leather in either of his big stand ups on HBO or Showtime. I will not blame Dave’s recent stand up debacle on his lack of cowhide but perhaps if he went with a different sartorial choice for his major shows, we’d be watching season 7 of Chappelle’s Show.
The kings of comedy also avoided the leather. Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, DL Hughley and the late great Bernie Mac chose to go the route of larger suits with 4-6 buttons.
I’ve never seen Hannibal Burress wear leather but when I do, I’ll know he made it into the mainstream.
Till then the mystery of the leather bound black comic lives on.
MrJeffDess (@MrJeffDess) is a staff writer for OnThaBubble
Previously from MrJeffDess:
Who Controls the Response
Don’t Get it Twisted: The Impact of Cornrows in the Hall of Fame
Jumping Fences. Fighting Niggers & The Pyramid of Racist Black Commentary
Mr. Mertle Award of Excellence