Friday marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Chicago’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington. He was born on April 15, 1922 in Chicago and his ascension to the mayor’s office was legendary. His grassroots campaign mobilized more than 100,000 new registered voters for the mayoral election in 1983, defeating Republican candidate Bernard Epton by a slim 51.7% to 48% majority.


The ALL JOKES ASIDE PRIZE for humor and humanitarianism is awarded annually to an individual whose career has made an exceptional contribution to stand up comedy and whose social activism has had an immense impact on underserved and disadvantaged communities of color.

A copy of the AWARD will be presented at the All Jokes Aside Collective Gala in a virtual summer ceremony during which his or her peers celebrate the honoree. The event is a significant fundraiser to benefit the All Jokes Aside Collective’s MASF Fund.


The Collective’s premier benefit engagements, the All Jokes Aside Collective Gala will be a highly anticipated new tradition. An intimate reception and fantastic performance as we celebrate the power of stand up comedy to change the world.

All proceeds from the gala will benefit the Mic And A Stool Fund. (MASF)

“As a black man, you must work twice as hard for twice as long for half as much,” (41) author Raymond Lambert’s father taught him. Lambert heeded many mentors, read voraciously, earned degrees, worked on Wall Street, nurtured relationships, stayed out of trouble, and along the way, built All Jokes Aside (Chicago, 1991–1998) into “the place to see headlining standup comedians of color with national reputations.” (147) Chris Rock, Bernie Mac, Steve Harvey, Mo’Nique, and dozens more killed it at Lambert and partner James Alexander’s club. All Jokes Aside, the book, operates on four levels: it is a family legacy, a love letter to the black community, a history of the comedy industry, and a sea of pearls for the aspiring entrepreneur. With a front-row seat, the reader watches Lambert navigate economic booms and busts and Chicago politics; innovate (using audience scorecards); and learn by trial-and-error (fining comedians who disregard the cue to end their set). Without any spoilers (such as, the 2012 documentary or the Starz network position), the throughline is excellence. Full disclosure: The author and I could have crossed paths in Atlanta—he arrived at Morehouse as I was leaving for Sarah Lawrence. Decades later, we finally did meet—as neighbors in Chicago. Culturally specific, morally courageous, and impeccably tailored, All Jokes Aside: Standup Comedy Is a Phunny Business is a deeply satisfying read ripe for a curtain-call. —Lisa Thaler, 27 June 2019

“Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, and an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end.” – By Michael Dunford


All Jokes Aside Prize