10 Legendary ‘Def Comedy Jam’ Performances That Will Take You Right Back To The 90s

Standup comedy hit unprecedented levels of legendary talent back in the 80s and 90s, and once the mid-90s rolled around, the biggest name in the game was Def Comedy Jam.

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Created in 1992 by Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons, Def Comedy Jam was a long-running HBO program meant to highlight black comedians at their finest, and boy did it deliver. Tons of legendary comedians made their names on the show, and their performances, especially these 10, stand the test of time

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Caution: these jokes contain very, VERY explicit language and themes.

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Martin Lawrence

The legendary comedian often hosted the show, and he used any chance he got to bring the audience up on stage and give them a hard time.

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Eddie Griffin

He rarely chose good movies, but when it came to his standup, Griffin was basically untouchable. His angry delivery coupled with his hilarious voices were the absolute best.

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John Witherspoon

You’ve probably seen him in movies and shows like Friday and The Boondocks, but John Witherspoon actually had a pretty solid standup career too, and his jokes are always killer.

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Jamie Foxx

Before he was getting Oscar nominations for playing Ray Charles, Foxx had huge roles on In Living Color and The Jamie Foxx Show, so of course he had to show up on Def Comedy Jam.

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The performances get even more legendary from here…

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JB Smoove

It takes a hell of a lot of comedic timing and skill to be able to carry a joke just about your walk-on music, but Smoove pulls it off so well it’s almost unbelievable.

Katt Williams

The man Snoop Dogg lovingly describes as buying “pimp clothes at the Baby Gap” was keeping it real decades ago, and he called out a lot of things he saw as being wrong with the world.

Chris Tucker

We all (well, most of us) loved him in Rush Hour, Friday, and The Fifth Element, but Tucker shines brighter than anywhere else on the standup stage.

Mike Epps

Nobody could work a crowd like Epps, and by work a crowd I mean mock them mercilessly and get away with it. Seriously, a less-talented comedian would get booed off the stage within the first joke, but thankfully he isn’t one.

Bernie Mac

The late, great Bernie Mac graced the Def Jam stage by telling everyone how much he wasn’t afraid of them (which is emphasized in his crazy clothes), and his delivery was absolutely on point.

Dave Chappelle

That’s right, Dave was doing comedy way before Chappelle’s Show and Killin’ Them Softly, and looking back on his Def Jam appearances, it’s obvious he was going places.

What was your favorite Def Comedy Jam performance?

Emma C
Freelance Writer