Women have the undeniable power to guide and construct a theory and make it into a reality. Heart felt love, determination and laughter have always been in the subtle magic that women tend to use to achieve such greatness. While love can often be mistaken for weakness or loss of power, it’s actually very much the opposite. Take comedy, for example; it’s actually been said that the love of comedy is the best medicine for the soul. Telling a joke that someone can relate to creates a bond, a lack of segregation.
One woman in particular has used that very power to change the world.
For over 80 years Jackie “Moms” Mabley has entertained people with storytelling, honesty and impeccable timing. At the beginning of Moms’ career, she was beyond what anyone could even imagine because there weren’t any standup comedians, women or men, period.
Without losing her spirit and pace throughout the white supremacist movement in America, Moms kept people laughing while subliminally hitting her listeners with political views from the mouth of a Black woman. She stood out by tackling topics too edgy for many other comics of her time, including racism and the Great Depression. She broke stereotypes by opposing the role of the very few Blacks that were in entertainment acting as jigaboos and clowns.
Mabley had a unique way of transforming herself into the character that we recognize as “Moms”. She appeared as a toothless, bedraggled woman in a house dress and floppy hat; a get-up that was unfathomable to the common critic.
Moms was part of the movement that renovated the face of Black America (or the Black American Minstrel). She pioneered the future of Black entertainment by performing in places throughout the Chitlin’ circuit, like Carnegie Hall, Harlem’s Apollo Theater (the Vatican of Black show business) and more.
She became a “Mom” to many other comedians, as she was billed as “The Funniest Woman in the World”.
Moms Mabley influenced great women and paved the way for “funny woman” like Bette Midler, Whoopi Goldberg, Carol Burnett and the late Joan Rivers – women who have changed the way that we view and respond to feminine figures in the media. Jackie “Moms” Mabley might have passed in 1975, but her legacy of being the legend of comedy lives on. Laughter never ages.