“The Queen of Comedy” LaWanda Page was best known for her role as Esther on Sanford and Son. She would later reprise the role on spin-offs Sanford, and Sanford Arms. Before television Page was a noted stage performer who entered comedy alongside childhood friend Redd Foxx.
Like many comics, Page’s comedy was blue before making her transition to television. Well, that’s an understatement, LaWanda’s routines were downright raunchy. A musical comparison would be Millie Jackson or Peggy Scott Adams of southern soul fame.
Page’s comedy touched taboo topics of the day, though most are widely accepted now. She spoke candidly about race and sex during her shows. Her shows with Redd Foxx were just as wild as her solo act. LaWanda Page and Redd Foxx added another shade of blue to comedy.
While full copies of her comedy albums can be easily found, on-stage footage isn’t as readily available. Which is tragic, as her on-stage presence and professionalism are said to be second to none. The posted video, from LaWanda’s 1973 album, “Pipe Layin‘ Dan” is a rarity as it shows Page well after Sanford and Son ended. This bit embodies everything, the raw end of Black, and blue comedy. The album oozed with raunch decades before raunchy was the norm.
Original Queen of Comedy
As one of two original Queens of Comedy—the other being Moms Mabley, Page was considered a legend during her heyday and often mimicked by today’s comics. Page’s strong storytelling ability and clever delivery appears raw and unrehearsed, but it was polished and perfected. Page offered great transitions, moving effortlessly from story to story, barely offering audiences a chance to breathe between laughs.
Pipe Laying Dan
I suggest you check out Pipe Layin’ Dan. While historians of comedy will appreciate it, anyone who loves artform will really dig the album. As TSF will NEVER share links to full albums, you can find the complete album—in three parts, on YouTube. If you’re a collector, the CD can be purchased anywhere online, or on vinyl via eBay.