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March 19, 2023

The Hidden Genius of Comedian Franklyn Ajaye: Revealed and Celebrated

Franklyn Ajaye is a comedian, actor, and writer who has been entertaining audiences for over four decades. From his breakthrough role in the film “Car Wash” to his work on “Bizarre” and “In Living Color,” Ajaye has left an indelible mark on the world of comedy. Despite his contributions, Ajaye is often overlooked in conversations about legendary comedians. In this post, we’re going to delve into the hidden genius of Franklyn Ajaye and celebrate his work.

The Early Years

Franklyn Ajaye was born on May 13th, 1949 in Brooklyn, New York. Raised in Los Angeles, Ajaye grew up surrounded by entertainment as his mother was a nightclub singer and his father was a jazz musician. Ajaye began performing comedy in the early 1970s at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, where he quickly stood out due to his unique style.

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Ajaye’s comedy was different from what audiences were used to at the time. Rather than telling jokes about race relations or politics, Ajaye focused on everyday experiences that everyone could relate to. He used his laid-back demeanor and calm delivery to draw audiences in and keep them laughing.

The Breakthrough Role

In 1976, Ajaye landed his breakthrough role in the film “Car Wash.” The film was a a comedy-drama that depicted a day in the life of a Los Angeles car wash. Ajaye played the character of Duane, a militant Black Muslim who spends his day handing out leaflets and trying to convert his co-workers.

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What stood out about Ajaye’s performance in “Car Wash” was how he managed to make his character both comic relief and a social commentary. Although the character of Duane could have been played for laughs at the expense of Muslims, Ajaye imbued him with complexity and depth.

The Importance of “Bizarre”

In the 1980s, Ajaye was a regular on the Canadian sketch comedy show “Bizarre.” While some may dismiss the show as a cheap knockoff of “Saturday Night Live,” it was an important platform for alternative comedians like Ajaye.

“Bizarre” gave comedians the opportunity to experiment with their acts and try out new material. Ajaye was able to test out new characters and comedic styles that he later brought to other projects.

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A Unique Point of View

One of the things that makes Franklyn Ajaye such an innovative comedian is his unique point of view. As a Black man who grew up in both New York and Los Angeles, Ajaye has a perspective that is all his own.

Ajaye’s humor is often self-deprecating and reflective of his experiences. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, Ajaye makes observations about the world around him that are both hilarious and thought-provoking.

The Legacy of “In Living Color”

In the 1990s, Ajaye was a writer and cast member on the groundbreaking sketch comedy show “In Living Color.” The show, which featured an all-Black cast, was a response to the lack of diversity in television at the time. It also provided a platform for up-and-coming comedians to showcase their talents.

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Ajaye’s contributions to “In Living Color” were significant. He wrote sketches that dealt with issues like police brutality and the Rodney King verdict. He also played characters like Reverend LaMont Nixon, a televangelist who liked to mix religion with pop culture references.


Q: What other movies has Franklyn Ajaye appeared in?

A: In addition to “Car Wash,” Franklyn Ajaye has appeared in movies like “Stir Crazy,” “The Jazz Singer,” and “Convoy.”

Q: Did Franklyn Ajaye ever have his own television show?

A: While Franklyn Ajaye never had his own show, he was a regular on “Bizarre” and “In Living Color.” He has also appeared on shows like “The Bernie Mac Show” and “Reno 911!”

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Q: What was Franklyn Ajaye’s comedy style like?

A: Franklyn Ajaye’s comedy style was characterized by his laid-back demeanor and calm delivery. He focused on everyday experiences that everyone could relate to, rather than telling jokes about race relations or politics.

Q: Was Franklyn Ajaye ever nominated for any awards?

A: While Franklyn Ajaye has not been nominated for any major awards, he has been recognized for his contributions to comedy. In 2021, he was awarded the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

The Mark Twain Prize

The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is an award presented annually by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to American comedy.

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In 2021, Franklyn Ajaye was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. In his acceptance speech, Ajaye remarked, “I never thought I would be honored by a prestigious award like this. All I ever wanted to do was make people laugh.”

The Legacy of Franklyn Ajaye

While Franklyn Ajaye may not be a household name like some of his peers, his contributions to comedy are significant. He paved the way for alternative comedians and showed that humor can be found in everyday experiences.

Ajaye’s legacy can be seen in the work of comedians like Dave Chappelle, who cite him as an influence. As long as people are laughing, Franklyn Ajaye will never be forgotten.

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Next time you’re looking for something to watch, seek out Franklyn Ajaye’s work. You won’t be disappointed. Also, share this post with someone who loves comedy, so they can discover the hidden genius of Franklyn Ajaye.

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