Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley ~ I know I must have seen her or heard her at some point, growing up in the late 1960s and 1970s, but the truth is I didn't really become aware of Moms Mabley until I was in college.

At the Community Center where the radio station was at Camden County College there was a very large but friendly security guard named Don. He was a good guy, but understand me, he did not need his uniform to intimidate someone. Don could have made an excellent living as a bodyguard or a professional wrestler. As far as the Center went, and the radio station, being a security guard, he came and went as he pleased.

I came in for a radio shift one night and found Don in the production studio laughing heartily at a record he was playing in there. He'd found it in the record library and had to hear it, rushing right in there to put it on the turntable. It was Moms Mabley, specifically Moms Mabley Live at Sing Sing, and Don told me as we listened for a bit that she was the funniest woman in the world.

I believed him. She was damned funny, and more than that, she was real - she was telling it like it is. As for Don, I had never heard a man laugh so hard and happily before, and rarely since. That was my introduction to Moms Mabley.

Now, some thirty years later I find this documentary on HBO Go called Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley. Whoopi, who for a time impersonated Moms in her act, puts together a nice biography of the lady. Meshing her life story with actual footage and interviews with contemporaries and those influenced by her, we're given a fair depiction of Jackie 'Moms' Mabley.

Despite (or some might say because of) her race, her age, and her sexuality, Moms Mabley made her way in a world against her, breaking down barriers that barred many in her time. She did it with humor and truth, a role model and inspiration for us all.

If I had any complaint about this doc, it's that it needed more footage and/or recordings of Moms. I'm going to go find some now, you should to, whether you see this terrific documentary or not. Recommended.

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