The purpose of this study is to evaluate and explore the ways in which African American male standup comedians perform Black masculinity. An analysis and critique of previously studied explanations and understandings of hegemonic masculinity, perceptions of Black masculinity, functions, uses and necessity of ethnic joking, as well as a brief overview of the history and progression of African American standup comedy will be reviewed. Additionally, an explanation of theoretical perspectives of the presentation of the self, the performance of masculinity, 'the cool pose' and 'the code of the street' will be explained to give the reader a deeper understanding of the African American male standup comedian. Finally, through a content analysis of seven prerecorded standup comedic routines performed by Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle, ranging from 1974-2004, will present the topics and themes found most prevalent to depict the ways in which Black masculinity is performed by these comedians. A further explanation of the following topics will be discussed: police authority, the justice system and incarceration, fatherhood, homosexuality, 'the cool pose' and 'the code of the street,' and relationships with women will be discussed. Ultimately, issues surrounding control and power are explored as the root of this performance of Black masculinity.


Peterson, Charles

Second Advisor

Gunn, Raymond


Africana Studies; Sociology and Anthropology


African American Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Race and Ethnicity


black masculinity, standup, comedy, performance

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2011 Yassamin Davoodi