Skip To Content

    Jackie 'Moms' Mabley Is One Historical Badass You Should Know

    She was a pioneering lesbian comedian, the first woman to perform at the Apollo theatre, and a general badass. And yet most people have no idea who she is.

    Whoopi Goldberg's latest project, a documentary that will air on HBO, chronicles the audacious career of black lesbian comic Jackie "Moms" Mabley.

    Whoopi said she was inspired to make the film when she realized that although Moms was a huge inspiration to her, very few people outside the comedy world knew about her legacy.

    Who was this, badass you ask?

    Moms Mabley was a stand-up comic and Vaudeville performer who is widely regarded as one of the most important African-American entertainers who ever lived.

    She knew how to play the crowd:

    And she knew how to work the showbiz industry:

    You don't mess with her.

    She ran away from home:

    She knew exactly how to deal with an ex-boyfriend:

    She could hang with the boys, and even beat them at their own game:

    She gives new meaning to the "IDGAF" lifestyle:

    She wasn't afraid to go where no woman had gone before:

    View this video on YouTube

    In 1939 she became the first female comedian to perform at The Apollo. This landmark establishment, in operation for 35 years at the time, had opened its doors to Harlem's black population only four years earlier. Badass? Badass.

    She hit a huge milestone in 1968 when she was booked for two shows at Carnegie Hall.

    Just look at this badass on the cover of Jet:

    Like every badass before her, and the badasses to come, Mabley knew the importance of work ethic:

    And she never lost her edge:

    She enjoyed playing checkers between sets, like a badass.

    Her ability to put on an entirely different persona in her act and live a seemingly double life has been unmatchable by any comedienne since:

    A year after staring in the feature film Amazing Grace (1974), she passed away in White Plains, New York, on May 23, 1975.

    Yes, Moms is truly an american historical badass.

    Listen to some of her badassery:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    And watch the last interview with Moms before her death:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com