Black History Month starts tomorrow, so I thought I’d start publishing some excerpts from The Queen of Comedy. TQOC is a generational and historical novel about a family of entertainers. Their craft is comedy, and while the book does include romance, the focus is more on the black celebrity during segregation, and what they had to go through.
I use the love/hate relationship between a woman who was cast as a maid in a number of films, and her nephew, a man who becomes a stand up comedian during the 60s.
Brilliant comic. Flawed woman. One legendary career.
Most people recognize the face, if not the name. That apple cheeked, rich brown face with the inviting smile that adorns baking products worldwide. Older movie goers fondly recall her role as the friendly, wise cracking maid in over one hundred films. But to her family and spurned lovers, the tongue of Honi Hawkins was brutally uncompromising and anything but funny, as she fought to become THE QUEEN OF COMEDY. ©
It was like James Brown sang, “This is a Man’s World.” David even did his own grass. He bought one of those riding lawn mowers, and when he wasn’t at the studio he raced around on it like a cowboy sitting tall in the saddle. He started wearing slouchy cardigan sweaters, like Bing Crosby always wore, and carrying a pipe like Bob Hope. He even insisted that Contessa have a martini ready for him when he came home from a long hard day at the studio. They were almost happy, almost content. So when David read in the paper about the growing violence in the Negro community, he found himself agreeing with the intellectuals that blamed the unrest on the poor and uneducated. His people became “those” people, because in his mind, he was being treated just fine. The race problem didn’t affect him outright. He was living the American Dream. So this was no time to be trippin’. At the studio he found himself hard pressed to explain the actions of other Negroes. The studio even sent a memo cautioning him against associating with “troublemakers,” reminding him of the morality clause in his contract. So he suffered in silence, unwilling to explode, because if he did, he knew his dream world would come crashing down around him.