Wil Haygood

Wil Haygood is a writer for The Boston Globe. He was a guest artist at Yaddo in the spring of 2000.

Recent Articles

Why Negro Humor is so Black

L et us now, at long last, praise all those Negro humorists from years gone by. Some still with us, but so many gone. Moms Mabley and Pigmeat Markham and Redd Foxx and Flip Wilson and Bert Williams and Amos 'n' Andy, gone. Stepin Fetchit, gone. Dick Gregory and Richard Pryor and Chris Rock and Steve Harvey and Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby are very much still with us, though Gregory and Pryor are ailing and far removed from the comic stage. Altogether, through the years, they've held on. The Negro comics' trajectory has gone from minstrel shows to outdoor tents, from honky-tonks to Greenwich Village salons, from amphitheaters to the big screen. Laughter washing over them like brittle sunshine. Sometimes the laughter is of a confused sort, owing to misinterpretation, the joke merged with history and the ears of whites placed at awkward angles. "I was a nigger for 23 years," the great Richard Pryor once explained. "I gave it up--no room for advancement."...