14 of the Funniest Martin Lawrence Jokes and Moments for the Comedy Hall of Fame
“Daaaammmmmmn, Gina!” is a phrase glued into Gen X and millennial culture and wouldn’t have existed without Martin Lawrence. Coming into prominence as a stand-up, Lawrence evolved into one of the most recognized television and film stars of his generation due to his ability to act big, react big and talk big despite his smaller stature. No matter where you saw Martin Lawrence, he made sure that you saw Martin Lawrence.
Since the 1980s, Lawrence has set off several hilarious goof bombs through his TV show Martin, movies like Bad Boys and stand-up work on Def Comedy Jam and Runteldat. In any event, it’s not often that a person’s entertainment career spans across five decades.
To celebrate the man who Kevin Hart owes 15 percent of his career residuals to and who recently began his 58th trip around the sun, we want to highlight some of his best jokes and moments on TV and film...
Lawrence’s sitcom Martin (simple title, but it gets the point across) ran for five seasons with a great combination of standard sitcom plots and over-the-top antics, whether it was Lawrence portraying wacky side characters or unique camera shots to add to the absurdity. Also, more sitcoms could benefit from having actual colors in their set design.
His Role as Jerome in ‘Martin’
As mentioned above, Lawrence would take the opportunity to play several side characters in his sitcom. However, arguably none were as outrageous as Jerome, an old pimp from Detroit who’s seen better days but still has some well-funded connections through his illicit casino. Lawrence just let his id go wild with the character, with gut-busting results from the viewers. The only thing louder than Jerome’s voice was his fits.
“My coach had a good saying about me, ‘One thing about Martin, he ain’t gonna get hit, and he ain’t gonna hit nobody.’ Cause I danced all motherfucking night! Cause my thing was I didn’t wanna get knocked out. That’s too motherfucking embarrassing. What do you say to a motherfucker if he’s a friend that got knocked out? You driving home with this motherfucker, and you like, ‘Damn, did he hit you as hard as it fuckin’ looked? Nah, they ain’t find your teeth; I don’t know where them motherfuckers went.’”
The ‘Bad Boys’ Bathroom Brawl
While both Lawrence and Will Smith showcased their comedic chops in the franchise, Lawrence was more willing to be at the expense of the joke, even in fight scenes. His willingness to put ego aside and look the fool for the majority of this restroom battle created a unique opportunity to get great laughs while also coming out looking like a badass in the end.
Doing the Right Thing
One of Lawrence’s breakthrough performances was as Cee in Spike Lee’s iconic Do the Right Thing. While Cee wasn’t a lead, Lawrence made the most of his screen time, helping enhance other characters like Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo “Goddamn Gus Fring” Esposito) and Radio Raheem (Bill “Remember I Was Peter Parker’s Nice Newspaper Boss in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man Movies” Nunn).
DJing at the ‘House Party’
Lawrence used his over-the-top delivery in the
cult classic government-honored House Party franchise as Bilal, the earnest “gonna be famous someday” DJ. Based on the movie’s soundtrack, Bilal knows what he’s doing. Just DON’T BUMP THE TABLE.
On “Hot Butt Love”
Lawrence discussed how trying new things in the bedroom with your partner may not go as planned.
When He Won ‘Star Search’
Back in the 1980s, stand-up comedians didn’t have media reach via TikTok, YouTube or even a basic-ass Facebook to get their material out nationally. Instead, they had to compete on a talent show hosted by a talk-show sidekick that would go on to be on FreeCreditReport.com commercials. Lawrence was one of the few that wouldn’t only go on to win Star Search in 1987 but manage to use the platform to get the career he has today.
On Safe Sex
“If you’re gonna have a one-night stand, fellas use them condoms. You fuck around and stick your dick in something, pull it out and it look like a hot dog that popped in a microwave. You know it’s fucked up when a doctor don’t know what he looking at; when he like, ‘What the fuck is this shit? Let me make a fucking phone call...’”
Breaking Down Racism Through Pool in ‘Boomerang’
As a performer, Lawrence can hold his own alongside bona-fide star Eddie Murphy and veteran comedic actor David Alan Grier. One of the best showcases of this was his galaxy brain breakdown of how the game of pool is a metaphor for white men’s fear of Black sexuality in Boomerang.
“I see (video of) Martin (Luther King) going through Birmingham, Alabama, and a racist white boy picked up a rock, like half a boulder or some shit, and he pitched that motherfucker like he was pitching for the Orioles and hit Martin in his head. And all Martin did was say, ‘Nonviolent, nonviolent… My head’s bleeding right now, nonviolent, nonviolent, I’m having a dream right now.’ And I was proud! It takes a strong man to get hit in the head with half a boulder and still say, ‘Nonviolent’! But if you’re like me, then one time you’d love to hear Martin say, ‘You motherfuckers hit me with a rock! I’ll beat your bitch ass, you motherfucker. Fuck that, Coretta, these n****s think I’m soft!’”
“I love some fuckin’ weed, but weed has you doing some dumb shit. Weed has you at a stop sign waiting for it to turn green.”
Tripping on Molly in ‘Bad Boys II’
Bad Boys II provided us with this gem of a scene. Detective Marcus Burnett accidentally swallows two ecstasy pills, and Lawrence unleashes a performance of a face-melting trip that wouldn’t be matched until Leo in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Hosting ‘Def Comedy Jam’
Lawrence’s marquee name value definitely helped Def Comedy Jam get viewers, but that’s just the surface. A sign of a good host during a stand-up show is the ability to keep the audience between comics. His ability to keep the energy up in a room, re-engage and reset an audience, and play with the crowd helped set up all the other comedians on each episode to succeed even if the previous comedian bombed their set.