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    These 7 Comedians-Turned-Actors Are In Shows And Movies That Will Make You Cry Laughing Or Cry Crying

    Cry laughing or cry crying.

    The current state of social affairs has me flipping between comedy and drama to laugh to keep myself from crying and then actually cry so that I keep my sense of humanity during all this change.

    1. The “Hood Hero” DeRay Davis.

    DeRay Davis poses with a smile on the red carpet at a Snowfall premiere

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    The Hollywood Improv has some of the best comedy acts the art has to offer, and its weekly MonDeRays show is especially entertaining.

    Exterior of the Hollywood Improv comedy club.

    Long before I saw South Side of Chicago native DeRay Davis at the Hollywood Improv, his comedy kept me laughing. Now I watch him as a stone-cold gangster on Snowfall.

    DeRay Davis poses with a straight face on the red carpet at a Snowfall premiere

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    DeRay Davis transforms from his “Hood Hero” stand-up persona to a stone-cold killer who comes to be an entrusted member by central character Franklin Saint — played by Damson Idris — as the story of Snowfall develops.

    Damson Idris poses on the red carpet of a Snowfall premiere

    DeRay Davis has successfully done the one thing that every great comedian-turned-actor must do: master the art of not acting.

    Comedians are loved for their physicality and quick, big emotional reactions. It works well in stand-up and comedic film projects; however, Davis steps his game up as Peaches.

    DeRay Davis smiles onstage during a stand-up set

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    FX’s Snowfall is a crack origin story that brings audiences to understand the CIA’s key involvement in the 1980s crack epidemic that targeted African American communities.

    Crystal rocks form a loose circular pattern on a table

    With Davis's affinity for thinking big, it makes sense that Snowfall is a project that speaks to him. He is a man with a vision for what he wants his legacy to be, and it is etched into the way he chooses his work.

    “I would like to bring back those shows that made us like Def Comedy Jam,” DeRay Davis expressed when doing an exclusive interview with in February 2022, while discussing the Black comedy docuseries Phat Tuesdays.

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    Amazon Prime / Via

    Phat Tuesdays was an all-Black comedy night on the Sunset Strip at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, which made it into the hottest night in the city.

    “You’re going to never recreate how it felt to walk out there and experience the energy of New York at the height of comedy. We saw people get television shows, the creation of Martin, and this was an amazing opportunity to do something great. I started at The Uptown Comedy Club in Harlem. We had anniversary shows, reunion shows, and celebrities popping into this little space with a curtain — to peep through the curtains to see your friend perform on stage. No glitz, no glamour — just in the raw on what you love to do and that’s what that era [birthed],” he says to Ty Cole at

    To cry-laughing watch DeRay Davis’s Netflix Comedy special How to Act Black. To cry-crying watch FX’s Snowfall.

    2. Mr. Triple Threat Jamie Foxx

    Jamie Foxx poses while biting onto a pair of glasses on the red carpet premiere of a Spider-Man film.

    By 1996, Jamie Foxx had worked his way into starring in his own television show.

    Jamie Foxx smikes at a Hollywood red carpet event

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    WB / The Jamie Foxx Show / Vintage Royal / Via

    The actor from Terrell, Texas, with immense talent starred in Any Given Sunday in 1999 alongside LL Cool J.

    Foxx also happens to be a former high school quarterback. The film was surrounded by rumors that the two were beefing on set and that a fight even took place. In an interview with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes on Showtime Sports, Foxx describes his "beef" with LL Cool J as a thing that makes the film so good. It was a friendly competition that worked well for a film about football.

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    Showtime Sports / Via

    Jamie Foxx’s work in Ray and Just Mercy put my emotions in absolute shambles.

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    Universal Pictures / Movieclips / Via

    When the biopic Ray was released in 2004 starring Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington, it was clear that he was ready to receive an Oscar from the Academy.

    Roger Ebert wrote, before his death, a review of the film lauding it and Jamie Foxx's performance. “Jamie Foxx suggests the complexities of Ray Charles in a great, exuberant performance,” Ebert wrote. Though Jamie Foxx is an excellent vocalist, the film features the original music of Ray Charles, and Ebert reminds audiences that Charles was deeply involved in the project until his passing.

    Roger Ebert: The movie would be worth seeing simply for the sound of the music and the sight of Jamie Foxx performing it.

    Jamie Foxx wears a tuxedo while hosting an awards show

    Watching Jamie Foxx’s perform as Ray Charles’ joy, suffering, and everything in between has pulled just about every tear out of me each time that I’ve watched it.

    But it doesn’t stop there. Jamie Foxx stars in Just Mercy alongside Michael B. Jordan, bringing the ills of mass incarceration to the silver screen, and it hit me where it hurts.

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    Warner Bros. / Via

    Just Mercy is based on the true story of attorney Bryan Stevenson’s path to becoming a noble defender of the people. Steven is a Harvard graduate “who founded the Equal Justice Initiative in 1989 to serve those who’ve been illegally incarcerated or abused in prisons.”  

    Donna M. Owens reported for Essence after attending a special screening of the film at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. At the event, Steven spoke about the impact he hopes comes from his work and the film. “I’m excited that this film gets people closer to the inequality in our system,” said Stevenson, whose bestselling memoir, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, inspired the movie. “And I hope it motivates them to get involved.”

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    Warner Bros. / Via

    Jamie Foxx plays Walter McMillian, a Black man who was imprisoned on death row after being accused of killing a white woman and put on trial in August 1988. With this evidence, a jury of 11 white people and 1 Black person quickly convicted McMillan after a trial that lasted a day and a half. 

    McMillian presented six alibi witnesses who testified that they had been with him at a family fish fry the entire day. In their conviction, the jury recommended a life sentence, but on September 19, 1988, the judge overrode the jury’s recommendation and imposed the death penalty.

    To say that Jamie Foxx’s performance was heartfelt is an understatement as he portrays a man who receives the rescue of exoneration.

    In Just Mercy, Jamie Foxx gives a face to the invisibilization of mass incarceration.

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    The Ellen Show / Via

    Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow builds upon the research of Angela Davis’s Are Prisons Obsolete? where both academic leaders untangle the web of the prison industrial complex. Each writes about the development of the system from chattel slavery, what happens to the people criminalized in it, and their families. 

    When chattel slavery transformed into the prison industrial complex as a way to sustain control over African-descendant people in America, it not only removed many Black men from their communities, it also hid them away to be unseen and unheard. They became invisible. This is what makes Jamie’s performance so poignant, because he is by far one of the most recognizable people in the world, and he lent his face to a cause that really needed it — a cause that he understands intimately as a Black man. Seeing an increase in awareness of the cruel phenomenon of unjustly incarcerating Black men means that some tears I cry watching the movie are tears of joy because of the hard work so many members of the Black community have put in to see this story told.

    When I want to laugh, I watch Jamie Foxx’s comedy special I Might Need Security and Horrible Bosses (or Horrible Bosses 2) just to see him in the franchise’s most memorable scenes where he plays Motherfucker Jones. For a good cry, it’s Ray and Just Mercy for me.

    3. Mr. Variety Show Steve Martin

    Steve Martin smiles wide while wearing a hat and glasses

    Steve Martin teaches comedy.

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    Steve Martin was born in Waco, Texas, on August 14, 1945, but he was raised in Inglewood and Garden Grove in California. “In 1960, he got a job at the Magic shop of Disney's Fantasyland, and while there he learned magic, juggling, and creating balloon animals,” his IMDb biography says. His time spent studying magic and performing in a comedy troupe come across especially well in Martin’s stand-up performances.

    Steve Martin’s stand-up routine has no routine; it is essentially a variety show performed by a guy who now admits in his Steve Martin Teaches Comedy Masterclass that he didn’t know how to write a joke. His stage performance is an improved experiment as a one-man show.

    A young Steve Martin performs stand-up onstage while playing a banjo and dancing

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    Steve Martin / Via

    There are so many Steve Martin classics to choose from, but the Father of the Bride film franchise takes the cake for laugh-cry moments.

    Steve Martin and Diane Keaton are caught on the red carpet

    Steve Martin’s performance as George Banks alongside Williams-Paisley as his daughter Annie is a story about a family that struggles to out-grow old dynamics.

    His over-the-top facial expressions while fighting to accept his daughter's maturity are met with such low-stakes reactions from Keaton and Williams-Paisley that it makes Martin’s character appear even more ridiculous. Like the scene where Annie’s fiancé touches her knee, and her father George’s eyes nearly burst out of his head, no one notices. 

    Father of the Bride is a family film with a touching message about a father’s love for his daughter, and his duty to protect and provide for her.

    Steve Martin holds a bouquet of roses in a garden

    Steve Martin’s drama-dey acting is showcased incredibly well in the Hulu series Only Murders in the Building.

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    Hulu / Via

    The series stars Steve Martin as Charles-Haden Savage, who is a lonely has-been actor struggling to stay relevant. He is joined by Father of the Bride co-stars Martin Short as theatre director Oliver Putnam and Selena Gomez as eccentric millennial Mabel Mora. 

    Steve Martin is hysterical as Charles-Haden Savage.

    Selena Gomez, Martin Short, and Steve Martin sit in a car while filming "Only Murders in the Building"

    Some of the most emotional scenes from Martin include ones where Charles describes his relationship with his previous lady.

    Steve Martin walks through a park

    For laughs, then cries watch Father of the Bride, and then watch Only Murders in the Building.

    4. Comedy King Kevin Hart.

    Kevin Hart smiles at a red carpet event

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    BET / Via

    Real Husbands of Hollywood is a certain kind of magic.

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    Nick Cannon / BET / Via

    The show stars Kevin Hart alongside Duane Martin, Nick Cannon, Nelly, Cynthia Kaye McWilliams, Boris Kodjoe, J.B. Smoove, and Robin Thicke. It follows a group of Hollywood stars, some of whom were husbands when the show first aired on BET in 2013 — Kevin Hart wasn’t one of them. Each of them talks a lot of trash about each other, Hart more than anyone else as his performance here relies on a boisterous ego that insists that he is the most important friend of the group. The show ran for five seasons on BET before being revived on BET+ in February 2022 for its final season.

    The sketch comedy show has been nominated for 19 awards and won 2. It has provided space for a number of comedians to practice their craft while experimenting in the world of parody reality shows. 

    Real Husbands of Hollywood has played such a significant role alongside the development of Kevin Hart’s career that it even manifested a joint comedy tour with comedic mastermind Chris Rock.

    In November 2021, Kevin Hart spoke to CBS News about his recent Netflix series True Story, which also stars Hollywood OG Wesley Snipes.

    Kevin Hart poses on the red carpet at the True Story premiere

    True Story is an almost Shakesperian story of two brothers.

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    Netflix / Via

    One brother is incredibly famous and wealthy, and the other is not. They are very much so at odds, but Kid’s deference to Wesley Snipes’ Carlton makes it difficult for him to change the nature of a relationship that exploits him. The tale twists and turns with mystery, suspense, and thrill.

    Kid is under extreme pressure that only increases with intensity as the story reveals itself. This role pushes Kevin Hart’s image far beyond the big-talking, little stand-up comedian who does buddy cop movies. In this heavy-hitting drama, the Kid is pushed to his limits to save his career and the life it’s created for him.

    Comedy King Kevin Hart relies on reality.

    Kevin Hart performs stand-up onstage with a mic in hand

    “In the book, Hart recounts how his father broke into his mother’s house to steal money. Another time, he robbed Robert Hart’s barbershop and crashed his car,” says Lang.

    Eventually, Hart chose to heal his relationship with his father — making him a better man and a better actor.

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    Entertainment Tonight / Via

    He has too much love in his heart to hold onto anger about the past. “It takes too much time and energy to keep hate alive,” says the comedian. Kevin values his relationship with his father and sees the man doing the best he can by being there as a grandfather for Kevin's children.

    Hart's openness in his comedy and book make him a great dramatic actor. There is a certain safety that comedy provides artists and audiences. It can be comfortable to perform work about painful experiences when you get to experience the joyous relief of laughing, but stepping into a dramatic story that relies on being under stress can be very uncomfortable for some actors. 

    The way that Kevin Hart connects with his character Kid in True Story is evident in how "in genre" his performance is, despite being known as the guy who makes people smile using family trauma.

    Watch Kevin Hart in Real Husbands of Hollywood or his collection of comedy specials to make you laugh, and check out True Story because it just might make you cry.

    5. Man of a thousand faces, Jim Carrey.

    Jim Carrey smiles at an Oscar event

    Jim Carrey’s most talked-about work just may be his performance in the now-infamous film The Truman Show.

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    Paramount Pictures / Movieclips / Via

    The 1998 film has been nominated for 69 awards and won 40, showing its lasting impact on culture. Truman Burbank is introduced as a happy-go-lucky guy in a picture-perfect life where even the grass doesn’t grow more inches than it needs to. Soon Truman grows tired of his routine and specifically the scaringly fake smile from his wife, Meryl, who Laura Linney (from Netflix’s Ozark) plays. He starts asking questions about his life, the town, and everyone. 

    Sylvia is a woman Truman knows from high school who always draws him to her, and as they connect, he eventually learns that his world is a sham, and everyone has been in on some warped reality show where they’ve been watching him through tiny cameras since he was born. This sets Truman into a tailspin and brings out an incredibly complex performance from Jim Carrey, a man who began doing stand-up routines for his classmates in junior high.

    Jim Carrey performs as a man whose sense of peace is shattered, as he goes through a mental breakdown that unveils itself to truly be a breakthrough right before the audience's eyes, and it is stunning.

    The range of emotions portrayed is no easy feat. Carrey is anxious around his wife, wildly free with his lover, and out-of-pocket with his neighbors once the jig is up. The film inspired a number of parodies, including one of my favorite episodes of Boy Meets World.

    The Canadian-born US citizen has brought audiences laughs through In Living Color, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask. However, Fun With Dick and Jane is a hidden gem.

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    Columbia Pictures / Movieclips / Via

    Fun With Dick and Jane stars Jim Carrey as Dick Harper alongside Téa Leoni’s Jane Harper. The 2005 comedy sits somewhere between Enron parody and modern-day Bonnie and Clyde when Dick’s company bellies up and leaves him as the fall guy for fraud scam. Once Dick realizes he’s been screwed over by ultra-wealthy Jack McCallister — played by Alec Baldwin — he enters a state of depression while everything from his family home is repossessed, including the freshly laid lawn. 

    Once the couple finds themselves sitting in a literal pit — where their new home pool would have been — it doesn’t take long for them to team up as bandits and start committing robberies around town to get their dignity back. The comedic chemistry between Carrey and Leoni is rare and just right. Their dynamic brings the laughs with ease and sometimes with surprise. This lighthearted comedy is an easy “yes” any day of the week.

    One of his most tear-jerking performances can be seen in the romantic sci-fi film Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.

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    The 2004 picture is a thoughtfully told love story about the couple Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski — played by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, respectively — who undergo a procedure to have each other wiped from their memory, but their love is so strong that they unite better than before.

    Joel and Clementine had a rocky relationship rife with misunderstanding, disagreement, and elements of what young people experience when they are transforming a strong bond into a solid, committed relationship. When the hurt is too much for them, they turn to this new procedure that promises to relieve them of the painful memories of one another. Once the procedure begins to take effect, the audience witnesses Joel’s reality shatter as he traverses through happy relationship memories he wants to keep. The experience ultimately brings Joel to see he values his relationship with Clementine enough to keep it.

    The story depicts a love so strong, so meant to be that this couple perhaps unknowingly saves their relationship by trying to erase it.

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    Focus Features / Movieclips / Via

    Carrey’s performance as Joel is so deeply emotionally connected to Kate Winslet that it is easy for the audience to root for him. Once it was clear that the couple represents a relationship that is imperfect rather than toxic, even my mind began searching for ways for them to mature through their discord. In this scene, Joel and Clementine find themselves in the middle of another disagreement, and Joel says to her, “Wait,” without even knowing why. Carrey’s line reading gives, “I don’t want to lose you, but I don’t know how to keep you.” 

    It hits me in the heart because Carrey’s portrayal at that moment is a man with very little ego and a lot of humility. A man searching for a way to reconnect with the woman he was once sure is the one for him. At that moment, Carrey’s soft voice and slow approach to Clementine communicate safety and commitment. The scene is a glimpse of what follows as Joel is propelled to be united with Clementine once again, and he succeeds.

    Laugh with Jim Carrey in Fun With Dick and Jane. Laugh-cry when you watch The Truman Show. Smile-cry when you watch Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.

    6. The late, great Robin Williams.

    Robin Williams posts wearing a hate while holding up one hand and wearing a pattern shirt

    Williams’ performance in the 1993 film Mrs. Doubtfire captured the hearts of families who gathered to watch the story about a father who fights to protect his role in the lives of his children.

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    Twentieth Century Fox / Movieclips / Via

    According to IMDb, the logline for Mrs. Doubtfire is: After a bitter divorce, an actor disguises himself as a female housekeeper to spend time with his children held in custody by his former wife. When Daniel Hillard finds out his former wife Miranda Hillard — played by Sally Field — is hiring a housekeeper, he decides to dress up as a woman named Mrs. Doubtfire who is a hop and skip away from a Mary Poppins caricature. 

    All goes well until Miranda starts dating James Bond himself, Pierce Brosnan who plays a guy named Stu that reappears from her past. Needless to say, Daniel is displeased with Stu’s presence and begins to torture the man under the guise of his Mrs. Doubtfire persona. At the beach club, Daniel hilariously fires a piece of bread at Stu’s head and shouts at him. Something  Daniel could only get away with so easily while dressed as a white-haired elderly woman in the most atrocious patterned ensemble.

    Robin Williams delivers a no-holds-barred performance in Mrs. Doubtfire.

    Robin Williams is stunned with his mouth open while performing as Mrs. Doubtfire in a kitchen scene

    Actress Lisa Jakub on working with Robin Williams: "He was very open about his issues with mental wellness. He taught me it was OK to be vulnerable. What was most meaningful to me was to see that human beneath the comedic act."

    The big heart of Robin Williams is seen through his therapeutic work in the 1998 film Patch Adams.

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    Universal Pictures / Via

    Both Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams made Juan Zambrano's 10 Hilarious Comedies That Are Surprisingly Sad List for Screenrant in February 2022. "As he did so many times in his career, Robin Williams in Patch Adams makes audiences laugh and cry at the same time. His contagious good humor and clown-like spirit instantly draw smiles to the viewer's faces, erasing them slowly when they discover what happened to his love interest," wrote Zambrano.

    Williams brings this true story to life with his light.

    Robin Williams and Monica Potter sit cross from each other at a picnic table in a scene from "Patch Adams"

    The real Dr. Patch Adams says he never charged money for patients in the clinic.

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    OWN / Via

    Dr. Patch Adams visited The Oprah Winfrey Show in the 1990s to discuss his work. At the time, Adams had been practicing medicine for 17 years. When Oprah asked him what kind of doctoring he does, he replied, “I consider it political activism. I went through medical school with the idea I wanted to use medicine for social change so I looked at medical problems in care delivery and upon graduation wanted to set up a model addressing all the problems.”

    Winfrey then asks Adams what inspired him to do this work. “Civil rights movement, war in Vietnam, and deciding I wanted to stop complaining and I wanted to do something about it,” he says. According to Adams, he was a nerd who knew that he would be a doctor, so he figured, “Why not set up a model for change?”

    Williams gives Patch Adams a theatrical air that communicates the love behind his work.

    Reconnect with Robin Williams through his work. Laugh and cry to Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams.

    7. The quiet but lethal Deon Cole.

    Deon Cole's comedy is centered on uplifting people while making them laugh.

    Early in his career, Deon Cole appeared in Ice Cube’s Barbershop, alongside fellow South Side of Chicago comedian DeRay Davis.

    Cole plays the role of customer Darrel in the 2002 film Barbershop. By 2007, he joined the cast of Nick Cannon’s Short Circuitz, where “Nick Cannon and a troupe of actors perform a series of brief topical sketches, impersonations, and parodies.” 

    In 2009, Deon Cole made three appearances on The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien and later on 35 episodes on Conan.

    Deon Cole’s Charlie Telphy on Black-ish is distinctively, memorably funny.

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    ABC / Via

    In this New York Times interview from 2016, Cole tells Kathryn Shattuck that comedy saved his life.

    The Black-ish star couldn’t have predicted that his role on the show as Charlie would be as popular as it has become. “I had no idea the character would break out. 'black-ish' is my family forever. Shout out to [the show’s creator] Kenya Barris. I love him. I would do anything under the sun for Kenya Barris. Put that on a T-shirt. Hashtag it.”

    Deon Cole has appeared on Black-ish since 2014, when Charlie was introduced in Season 1, Episode 3: “The Nod.”

    Charlie’s “frosty” relationship with Diane Johnson masterfully brings more laughs.

    Charles vs Diane: The greatest rivalry since........exactly. #blackish

    Twitter: @blackishabc

    The phenom Marsai Martin plays Diane Johnson, Andre and Rainbow “Bow” Johnson’s youngest daughter. Diane has many siblings, including her twin brother, Jack, but she is the only one in a war with Charlie Telphy.

    They are arch-nemeses in a way that is so comical it gives off cartoon vibes. This storyline is one of my favorites on the show because it does comedy well. Their inexplicable rivalry encompasses absurdity and mysteriousness fraught with physiological warfare.

    After snagging Charlie on Black-ish and DJ Tanner on Angie Tribeca in 2016, Deon Cole delivered a stunning performance as Wiley Escoe in the Black Western The Harder They Fall.

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    Netflix / Via

    Netflix’s The Harder They Fall is a co-production of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, hip-hop icon and businessman Jay-Z, and a number of other Black Hollywood stars.

    The Black Western film is a fictional story based on true characters, contributing to the restoration of the rich history of African American cowboys in the United States. It was named Outstanding Motion Picture at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards.

    Katie Nodjimbadem for Smithsonian Magazine: “Though [Nat] Love’s tales from the frontier seem typical for a 19th-century cowboy, they come from a source rarely associated with the Wild West. Love was African-American, born into slavery near Nashville, Tennessee.”

    "The Harder They Fall" cast and production members pose in front of a pop-up saloon at an event for the film

    “African-American cowboys faced discrimination in the towns they passed through — they were barred from eating at certain restaurants or staying in certain hotels, for example —but within their crews, they found respect and a level of equality unknown to other African-Americans of the era,” says Nodjimbadem.

    However, The Harder They Fall tells a more gritty and dramatized version of Nat’s story, where Deon Cole’s Wiley Escoe is a bad dude in a bad situation.

    Deon Cole and Kelly Clarkson laugh together on the set of "The Kelly Clarkson Show"

    The Harder They Fall is a tale about a community rife with rivalry where brothers are enemies and so are friends.

    Jay-Z, Regina King, Deon Cole, and Idris Elba pose for a photo together at a Hollywood event

    Laugh out loud with Deon Cole in Black-ish and his Netflix special Cole Hearted. Shed a couple tears while watching The Harder They Fall.

    Which comedians make you laugh and cry? Tell me in the comments!