Solution Graphics



Arguably the most popular and successful black comedian of the mid-1990s (and the man who first popularized the expression "Wazzup?"), Martin Lawrence began his career doing stand-up on the Washington, DC circuit before moving briefly to NYC where, among his venues, he worked the crowds at Washington Square Park. Incorporating his NYC experience into his act ("Just say I'm a comic outta New York"), he toned down his raunchy act for the "Star Search" talent scouts to earn a berth on the show. Though he won only once on "Star Search", a tape of his performance found its way into hands at Columbia Pictures, leading to his recurring part as a smart-mouthed busboy during the last season (1987-88) of the syndicated "What's Happening Now!!". Moving to features, Lawrence had a hysterical bit as a guy who buys a slice of pizza during the riot in Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" (1989) and also scored as the tone-deaf DJ in the Hudlin brothers' sleeper hit "House Party" (1990), which reunited him with Kid 'N' Play. Progressing quickly to a co-starring role as Eddie Murphy's sidekick in the Hudlins' "Boomerang" (1992), he attracted the attention of HBO executives like Chris Albrecht (called by Lawrence " one of the white boys who, no matter what, believed in what I could do").

HBO developed "Martin" (1992-1997) for Fox and to help guarantee its success, shot a live "One Night Stand" special starring Lawrence and installed him as the host of its new "Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam" series. Bill Cosby criticized "Martin" for its vulgarity and for reinforcing negative stereotypes of blacks, and following Cosby's lead, NEWSWEEK called his Detroit DJ character a "sex-obsessed homeboy shucking his way to nowhere." Audiences, however, embraced the show's depiction of a young black man in a healthy, monogamous relationship with a marketing executive (Tisha Campbell). Responding to the attacks, Lawrence told Vibe: "I'm not ashamed to show the street side of the Martin character because bourgie isn't how most black people live."

The controversial Lawrence's insightful edginess often raised his sitcom work above the level of stereotype, enough so that the NAACP honored "Martin" with its Image Award, and the series allowed him huge improvisational freedom, as well as the opportunity to play multiple roles like urban sister Sheneneh, a character no one at the network "got", who became a fixture after eliciting side-splitting laughter. Following in the footsteps of Richard Pryor and Murphy, he branched into comedy albums with "Talkin' Shit" (1993) and concert films with "You So Crazy" (1994), both mining the blue humor of his stand-up act. He raised his profile higher co-starring with Will Smith in Michael Bay's feature directorial debut Bad Boys (1995), a cop-buddy movie that brought to mind a re-working of "The Odd Couple",

Lethal Weapon and "Beverly Hills Cop". He then bit off perhaps more than he should have chewed with his own directing debut, "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" (1996), which he also co-wrote, starred in, supervised music for and executive produced. Critics dismissed the effort, a sort of "Martin" meets his "Fatal Attraction", and the workaholic began to show real cracks in the armor as the strain of doing movies simultaneously with a TV series started to show in his erratic behavior. Yet the last product of his mad schedule, the feature "Nothing to Lose" (1997), despite not exploiting its initial premise to the hilt, was a workman-like buddy comedy co-starring Tim Robbins as a man who roars off into the desert with his carjacker after seeing his wife in bed with his boss. Lawrence took some time off and was back in two features in 1999, reteaming with Murphy as convicts for "Life" and playing a diamond thief pretending to be a cop in Blue Streak. The former, though not the hit the pair would have liked, showcased (with the help of Rick Baker's make-up) their ability to age with total credibility over a half century, while the latter did almost equal business despite showing Lawrence to less advantage. He then roared back to the forefront in the blockbusting "Big Momma's House" (2000) as an FBI agent who must don fat suit (similar to Eddie Murphy in "The Nutty Professor") to impersonate the 300-pound woman of the title. The breathtaking success of its first week (in excess of $25 million) proved one should never underestimate the sight of a popular star in drag. His follow-up project, What's the Worst that could Happen? (2001). Next Lawrence starred in the self explanatory comedy"Black Knight" (2001).

In 2002, Lawrence took his comedy stint to the big screen. The movie"Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat," "poked-fun" at the many events that brought him unfavorable exposure even as his public behavior fueled even more controversy. The following year, Lawrence joined Steve Zahn for the comedy feature "National Security," a buddy flick about two unlikely cops-turned-security guards, before reteaming with Will Smith and director Michael Bay for the uninspired retread sequel "Bad Boys II" (2003). He followed as a basketball coach in "Rebound" (2005) and "Big Mommas House II" In (2006). Martin would soon play the voice of Boog in "Open Season" (2006). Boog, a domesticated 900lb. Grizzly bear finds himself stranded in the woods 3 days before Open Season. Forced to rely on Elliot (Ashton Kutcher),a fast-talking mule deer, and the two form an unlikely friendship and must quickly rally other forest animals if they are to form a rag-tag army against the hunters. Lawrence went on to costar in “Wild Hogs” (2007), a hugely successful ensemble comedy about four down and out men (Lawrence, John Travolta, Tim Allen and William H. Macy) going through respective mid-life crises who embark on a freewheeling, cross-country motorcycle trip in order to prove their manhood. 2008, Martin stars in"Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins", about a successful talk show host who leaves Los Angeles to reunite with his family in the Deep South. Though, in this film, Martin plays a more dramatic role than his usual self.

Visit artist website at

Copyright © 2012 Entertainers Resource Directory All rights reserved.