Jackie “Moms” Mabley was a comedian who emerged on the national scene in black comedy in the 1950’s although she had been on stage for much of her life. She was well known among African Americans as the “funniest woman in the world.” She was known for her down home advice and played on major venues including the Ed Sullivan Show. She died in 1977.
My favorite Moms Mabley Stories (I am sure some of you could tell them better than I.) Moms hated old men. She said her father made her marry one because they could do that in those days. Moms said the man was so old “Santa Clause was his son.” She said trying to make love to him was like pushing a car up a hill with a rope. Moms said when she was a little girl growing up out in the country she asked her grandmother who was sitting on porch one day, “Grandma, how old does a women have to be before she don’t want no more boyfriends?” She said her grandmother, who was about 95 years old, responded, “Honey, you have to ask somebody older than me.” Moms said she was on an airplane and her ears were so stopped up she went back to tell the flight attendant. Moms said the woman told her to drop her jaws, “and I misunderstood her.” . According to Moms an old wino she knew stumbled and fell on his butt one day.
When he reached back to feel his behind he saw that his hand had something red on it. Moms said the old wino said, “Oh Lord, I hope this is blood.”
Black Entertainers of Yesterday: One More Jackie “Moms” Mabley Joke ( I Promise) Moms was being interviewed on a national variety show when she asked the host, “What was the name of that horse Roy Rogers had?” The host answered, “Trigger.” Moms said, “I went to a big social event in a white exclusive club. I was the only colored person in the room, and I was dressed up just as fine as I wanna be! So I am walking through this room full of these dignified white people and various ones were hailing me like, “Hey Trigger”” and “There go that Trigger” Some of ’em would yell out “How you doing Trigger” and so forth. Then Mabley looked down pensively and says, almost to herself, “At least I Think that’s what they was saying.”
Black Entertainers of Yesterday: Jackie Moms Mabley dressed as she appeared off stage. Mabley was a lesbian who adopted her stage appearance as an old woman in rags with a sharp tongue and quick wit. She became an African American comic icon but few people knew of her private self. Mabley always preferred the company of women. She appears here in her young years but always dressed as a man off stage.
Jackie Moms Mabley was relatively unknown to whites but among African Americans she was a comedic genius. She rarely if ever used profanity or vulgarity in her act but never- the- less touched a nerve in black America and became our most precious “Mom.”
Redd Foxx: Star of the television show “Sanford and Son” in the 1970’s Redd Foxx emerged on the national stage as a cantankerous junkyard owner but Foxx had been known among African Americans long before that. Unlike Jackie “Moms” Mabley who rarely if ever used profanity or vulgarity on stage, Redd Foxx became a master of it influencing other black comics to do the same.