The comedy game is full of ups and downs. This game changer has manifested his whole career through that. He hosted one of the most notorious televised stand up shows, Def Comedy Jam. He earned his own sitcom which won an award from the NAACP. He landed movie roles both critically provocative and financially successful. This game changer is Martin Lawrence.
Named after US President, John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence was born in Frankfort, Germany. His father was stationed there through the Air Force. When his parents divorced, His mother moved him and his five siblings back to the US, settling in the suburbs of Maryland. With their father being estranged and their mother working full time as the provider, the young kid started building his act. When his mom returned home from a long day’s work, he would be waiting at the end of her bed to perform his act. Making his mom laugh meant a lot.
The comedic remedies followed him into high school. Gaining a reputation as a class clown, teachers encouraged him to take his act to a local open mic. At first, Lawrence bombed, but knowing he was capable of generating laughs, he continued the hustle of hitting clubs. By 1984 and just a high school graduate, he worked as a janitor during the day and hit the club the DC and Maryland comedy clubs at night. After feeling some confidence, he took his act to New York City where he won a spot on Star Search. While he did not come out on top, he created some connections which led to a small role on What’s Happening Now!!. The show was shortly cancelled, but he did not stop grinding. The stand-up caught the attention of Spike Lee and was casted in Lee’s film Do The Right Thing.
This led to more parts and more stage time. In 1992, Russell Simmons handpicked him to host Def Comedy Jam. That same year, the comic was offered his own sitcom where he was a writer, executive producer, and star. He not only played the self-titled character Martin, but he also played a recurring female neighbor, his mother, and a guy know as White Bob from Marketing. The show ended in 1997, yet the comic kept working. He continued to garner roles in blockbusters like Big Momma’s House and Bad Boys.
The style of the show Martin remained as clean and family friendly aside from the critical response that it played up stereotypes. Lawrence asserted it had a more realistic approach to racial differences. On the other hand, his standup has been confrontational describing sexual situations and tackling racism head on. In addition, he uses everything he has. He’ll run across the whole stage to create a scene and to heighten the punches. His voice changes to emphasize a point or to take on another’s point of view.
The comedian has been described as treating his craft like an athlete. He takes care of himself by being careful of what he eats or drinks while he travels. He ensures that he is well rested for his physical performance. In the past, he has paid homage to greats, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, by wearing leather suits for televised specials. In return, he has mentored other rising comedians, notably, Dave Chappelle. Lawrence has studied the greats and guided greats. He is a real contender.