On This day in comedy on April 16, 1965 Comedian, Actor, Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence was born in Frankfurt, West Germany.
Martin Lawrence almost became a boxer. He was a Mid-Atlantic Golden Gloves contender and was eyeing a professional career until an eye injury put a stop to those plans. His plan B turned out to be suitable for some of those same principles he’d learned in boxing and it wasn’t long before Lawrence knocked out some obstacles and chalked up an impressive record.
He found his gym in New York at the Improv. His first big bout was on the CBS competition show, Star Search. He fought his way to a title bout, but he was robbed. Didn’t matter. He got a good look and landed a part on the ABC rebooted sitcom, What’s Happening Now!! After it was canceled he played journeyman comedian / actor until he got another break in Spike Lee’s big screen smash hit Do the Right Thing. Lawrence was now in demand. He appeared in House Party (which became a franchise), Talkin’ Dirty After Dark and Boomerang.
Lawrence really showed what he could do when he was selected to host Def Comedy Jam on HBO. It was an instant hit and Lawrence was now TV’s latest champ. He not only defended his title week after week he went into another division when he got his own self-titled sitcom which was a giant hit on Fox. Lawrence followed in the tradition of playing multiple roles in a project. He did it on Martin, performing as his female neighbor, Shanaynay and other assorted characters. While doing the sitcom, Lawrence wrote, starred in and directed A Thin Line Between Love and Hate.
When Martin ended Lawrence went back to the big screen in a string of hits: Nothing to Lose, Bad Boys (another franchise) Life, Blue Streak, Big Momma’s House (also became a franchise), Wild Hogs, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins and Death at a Funeral. In 2014 Lawrence partnered with another TV standard bearer, Kelsey Grammer on the show Partners.
Despite his early brand of raunch (he’s banned from life from appearing on Saturday Night Live after making over the top remarks about female genitalia and hygiene) he’s done family content. Lawrence did the voice of an animated character in Open Season and starred in Disney’s College Road Trip.
Martin Lawrence has released two stand up albums and several specials. A multiple acting award nominee, Lawrence has won two NAACP Image awards and a BET Icon Award.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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