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Synopsis

Timely, insightful, and downright funny, Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy is a sweeping account of the evolution of black comedy in America. Inspired by comedian Darryl Littleton’s book, producer and writer Quincy Newell and director Robert Townsend have crafted a no-holds-barred documentary that is both an insider’s take and a critical examination of the cultural influence of black comedy. Why We Laugh is a hilarious and spectacularly archived film enriched by including interviews with prominent scholars, politicians, cultural critics, and a host of notable comics, including Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, Katt Williams, D.L. Hughley and Steve Harvey. Why We Laugh tracks the way black comedy has evolved from Stepin Fetchit and minstrels in blackface to the politically tinged humor of Dick Gregory, and from the television success of Good Times and The Jeffersons to the big-screen accomplishments of stars like Eddie Murphy and Whoopi Goldberg.

OFFICIAL SELECTION OF THE 2009 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Movement

The Movement From the auction block to the soap box, from civil rights to equal rights, and from the Cotton Club to the main marquee, if faith has been the backbone of African American perseverance in America then black comedy has been the spinal cord. This is the essential message of Why We Laugh a brand concept that has been established to explore and reveal the diverse experiences of being black in America through the uncensored, humorous – and truthful – lenses of today’s comedians and social critics.
Why We Laugh will not only celebrate the incredible journey of black comedy and the cultural influence it has had over the last 100 years, but it will also be a critical examination of the social impact of this art form and its most notable artists.
The mission of the Why We Laugh brand concept is to create relevant and inspired content, easily digestible across a multi-media platform that will ignite meaningful discourse and change. Why We Laugh holds on to a common belief that a dynamic convergence of content and purpose, will speak to a wide range of consumers while moving minds forward.
Through our brand concept driven products, we will dissect, reflect, celebrate and discuss the evolution of black culture and black comedy and explore the part that comedy has played in providing the world a unique portal into the psyche of black culture.

Cast List

Narration: Angela Basset
Interviewees:
Chris Rock, Dick Gregory, Bill Cosby, D.L. Hughley, Cornel West, Kwesi Mfume, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Robert Townsend, Michael Eric Dyson, George Wallace, Steve Harvey, Katt Williams, Sommore, Sheri Shepard, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Paul Mooney, Bill Bellamy, Topper Carew, Dr. Todd Boyd, Walter E. Fauntroy, Garrett Morris, Louis Gusset Jr., Franklin Ajaye, Shawn Wayans, Thea Vidale, Julian Bond, Stanley Crouch, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Eddie Griffin, Aton Muhammad, Renaldo Rey, Andrew Young, Eddie Levert, Jamie Masada, Bob Sumner, Elijah Cummings, Congresswoman Diane Watson, Jeff Clanagan, Russell Simmons, Faizon Love
Program Subjects:
Burt Williams, Stepin Fetchit, Beaulah, Moms Mabely, Dick Gregory, Red Foxx, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Robin Harris, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Townsend, Chris Rock, Keenan Ivory Wayans and In Living Color, Def Comedy Jam, Original Kings of Comedy, Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle

Education Program

Excite. Educate. Engage.
Seeking Sponsors
The old proverb states that “laughter is the best medicine.” Sometimes laughter is born out of necessity and sometimes out of pain. We laugh to help us cope with what is going on around us. And sometimes, what’s going on around us provides plenty for us to laugh about. For these and many other reasons, comedy has been and remains an important element in American society.
The Why We Laugh Educational Program will examine African American history in a new way – through black comedy. The program will revolve around the central question; “How has American society and the black community been impacted by black comedy and, how has black comedy been influenced by society over the last 100 years?” The program will parallel the progression of society over the course of time while also examining the evolution of black comedy in America.
The Why We Laugh Educational Program will deliver activities into classrooms via materials that include a teacher’s guide and reproducible student activities. These materials, developed by education professionals with expertise in creating targeted supplemental programs, will engage, excite and educate our youth using comedy as the conduit for these discussions. Teachers will be encouraged to share the program with their colleagues so that these educators can explore the topic with their students ultimately creating a cross curricular approach to the topic. The Why We Laugh Educational Program will also be designed to encourage parents and their youth to interact through a customized school-to-home connection initiative.
The Why We Laugh educational program will help to enhance the educational process of our youth by providing teachers with a resource that is relevant to their students’ lives and experience. Each one, teach one.
Target Grades
College Level

Target Distribution
Top 20 African American DMA’s
Distribution Goal
of programs (13,260)
of teachers (33,150)
of students (3,315,000)
Total Reach
3,348,150

For Sponsorship Inquires please contact Quincy Newell @ quincy@codeblack.com

tour

Arizona State University Screening
Date: Thursday, March 30th
City: Phoenix, AZ
Venue: Pending
Times: Pending

ReelWorld Film Festival
Date: April 7th – 11th
City: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Venue: Cineplex-Canada Square
Times: 7PM & 9PM

University of Michigan Event
Date: Friday, April 9th
City: Ann Arbor, MI
Venue: Campus Theatre
Times: 6PM

ReelBlack Screening Series
Date: Thursday, April 20th
City: Philadelphia, PA
Venue: Ibrahim Theater at International House
Times: 7pm

The South Dakota State University Film Society Screening
Date: Tuesday, April 27th
City: Brookings, SD
Venue: South Dakota Art Museum
Times: Pending

1st Annual African-American Film Appreciation Weekend
Date: Friday August 24th
City: Charlotte NC
Venue: Harvey B. Gantt Center
Times: 7:30PM

Shades of Freedom II: Black Comedy & Humor
Date: Thursday, October 29th & 30th
City: Baltimore, MD
Venue: Pending
Times: Pending

Pending Screening Locations:
Harvard University – Boston, MA
Tuskegee University – Tuskegee, AL
Hampton University – Hampton, VA