The Black Comedians Who Pioneered Social Media
The controversy involving comedian Spoken Reasons opened my eyes up to a happier time.
For those who may not tune in much to social media or pay attention to television, last Tuesday on Nick Cannon’s popular comedy show Wild N Out, two of the premier comics from the early 2010s sparred live. The two comics, Emmanuel Hudson and John Baker also known as Spoken Reasons got into a verbal freestyle battle on the show as Emmanuel aired out Baker for withholding money from him for a viral video they make in 2012.
What seemed like a war of words between two colleagues instead opened up a larger online conversation about the business practices of Spoken Reasons, who was accused of withholding funds from Emmanuel Hudson for a skit they completed in 2012. As of now, the video in question has over 66 million views.
The song, Asking All Them Questions, opened the door for the parody style of comedy we see today from entertainers and influencers on social media. Emmanuel’s creativity and impersonations along with Baker’s video skills helped launch the careers of both individuals.
Regardless of who is right or wrong, there is a larger issue that both of their careers have now brought to the table. They and a host of other black entertainers were the first to use the platform of YouTube to not only popularize their brand but also to commodify and make careers out of it.
Those names have mostly been ignored, but to the generation of millennials over thirty and in their 40s, their names are important. Names like Kain Carter, Jerry Lavinge Jr, and Jasmin Brown. These individuals were amongst the first to become YouTube celebs and they paved the way for several YouTube and Instagram influencers who followed.
Kain Carter was one of the first YouTube comedians I got familiar with. I was in college and stumbled upon one of his early videos entitled Male Honesty. The candor in which he expressed his views, and the wit, struck me.
While his brand of comedy wasn’t anything we hadn’t heard before, his delivery and his approach to the comedy drew me and others in.
YouTube in the early 2010s was growing into a formidable marketing tool primarily because of Soulja Boy and his music.
The emergence of Kain Carter and other channels like Dormtainment along with Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl and Numa Perrier’s The Number helped YouTube grow into a place for black creatives to go to release their product without the restraints of traditional agencies.
Out of the names I mentioned, the most successful perhaps as of now would be Spoken Reasons. Since his start, he’s elevated his brand, parlaying YouTube into acting gigs on shows like the Real Husbands of Hollywood and movie The Heat.
In 2013, he landed a deal with music mogul Russell Simmons for a digital YouTube deal he had and has also tried his hand at music. Compared to other comics with similar backings, his career has yielded the most fruit, but with the fallout from the episode and his less than satisfactory answers to naysayers that may be in jeopardy.
Seeing people clamor on Twitter to find out more about him and his career led me to remember what he represented for me as a young adult. His career and the careers of other pioneers like Carter and Jasmin Brown helped open the door for new personalities like Supreme Dreams, King Keraun, Jess Hilarious, B. Simone, Jameisha Thomas, Jennah Brittany, Ha Ha Davis and a slew of other names. It is important to pay attention to the ones who came before and made the way easier for other creatives.