By Chris Witherspoon (Article originally published on theGrio.com)
Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg is making her directorial debut with the HBO documentary “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley,” the story of Jackie “Moms” Mabley,” an African-American stand-up comic who was once billed as “The Funniest Woman in the World.”
Mabley emerged from the chitlin’ circuit of African-American Vaudeville, performing in minstrel shows and later becoming a mainstream star on the stage and TV. She performed up until her death at the age of 81 in 1975.
She pushed the boundaries of comedy by tackling topics such as gender, sex and racism, making her one of the first taboo-pushing comedians on the comedy circuit. According to reports, the North-Carolina-born comedian was openly lesbian and often made her sexuality a part of her routines.
“Moms Mabley has been a huge inspiration to me and so many others, but not a lot of folks outside of the comedy world know about her legacy,” said Goldberg in a statement. “There are a lot of us who wouldn’t be working today without pioneers like her. HBO gave me my first break on TV, so it’s only fitting that Moms has a home there now.”
The documentary includes vintage clips of Mabley through the years as well as interviews with some of the world’s top comedians, including Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers and Kathy Griffin.
“Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley” premieres at 9 p.m. EST on November 18.
Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC