Black comedy today: A talk with black comedy management guru Rick Sullivan

Charlie Murphy and The KYD
Comedy Legend Charlie Murphy talks Young Comedian Lenard “The KYD” Jackson

Rick Sullivan: Behind the scenes of black comedy

Paul Mooney Teaching
Comedy legend Paul Mooney and “The KYD”

Today’s black comedy scene is large and thriving, but few people know the big names behind the scene that are the fist to spot young talent. One of these well-known talent management veterans is Rick Sullivan. Based out of Oakland, California Sullivan is well respected in comedic circles. His management company Rick Sullivan Productions/KYD (Know Your Destiny) is once again on the move:

rolling out: What black comedy legends have you worked with?

Sullivan:  Where do I begin it’s been so many. I would have to say start with cats like Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, Mike Epps, Charlie Murphy, and so many others.

rolling out: What has impacted you the most when it comes to black comedy?

Sullivan: Comedy is the voice of our culture, and a comedian expresses themselves in their own unique cultural way.

rolling out: Who is the next up and coming comedian to watch for?

Sullivan:  That would be Lenard “Da KYD” Jackson. Once you meet him, you will never forget him. He has a lot of talent that even Paul Mooney and Charlie Murphy recognized.

 rolling out: KYD spent some intense one on one time with two comedy legends recently, tell us about that night.

Sullivan : It was a few weeks ago, Charlie Murphy and Paul Mooney were on the show as well as KYD. So backstage and after the show they spoke for hours. They were mentoring this young comedian.

 rolling out: What did they say to him?

 Sullivan:  Well Paul Mooney told him to “Write about things you know about. A heckler will challenge you on what you say, but no one can challenge you on what you’ve been through.”  Charlie Murphy also really talked to him deeply about the whole inner being of where your art comes from.

 rolling out:  Bill Cosby is returning to TV was his style of comedy missed on TV.

 Sullivan: Most definitely. With the passing of Richard Pryor having Cosby back on TV in the comedy world its like being the presence of a comedy legend with almost the same Stature of Martin Luther King.

rolling out: Do you think that Cosby’s return will cause other comedians to up their game?

Sullivan:  Must definitely. Bob Sumner for example is the co-creator of “Def Comedy Jam”. He handpicked each comedian for that show. Now he has created a clean comedy show for Magic Johnson’s Aspire Network called “We Got Next”.

 rolling out: What would you like to say about your view of black comedy.

 Sullivan: To me comedy is like the ancient mask of comedy and tragedy. A lot of comedians have come through tragic moments in their life and they learned to get through and can now look back and laugh.  It is through a comedian’s tragedy that we get a better interpretation of life and that becomes comedy.

rolling out: How can comedians reach you?

Sullivan: Through our website and through [email protected]

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Join Our Newsletter

Get the latest news from Rolling Out.