Franklyn Ajaye

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Franklyn Ajaye
Franklin Ajaye 1975.jpg
Ajaye in 1975.
Born (1949-05-13) May 13, 1949 (age 65)
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
Occupation Actor, comedian
Years active 1973–present

Franklyn Ajaye (born May 13, 1949) is an American stand-up comedian and actor. His nickname is "The Jazz Comedian" for his distinctive jazz inflected style of delivery, great timing, and astute use of silence. His name is sometimes wrongly spelled Franklin Ajaye.


He was born in Brooklyn, New York but raised in Los Angeles by a Sierra Leonean father, whom he is named after, and a Florida-born mother Quetta, making Ajaye, as he likes to joke, a "true African-American." He has released five comedy albums to date: Franklyn Ajaye, Comedian (1973), I'm a Comedian, Seriously (1974), Don't Smoke Dope, Fry Your Hair (1977), Plaid Pants and Psychopaths (1986), and Vagabond Jazz & the Abstract Truth (2004). The last two were recorded in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.

Ajaye made his network debut on The Flip Wilson Show in 1973 and made his first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson a year later. He did all the major talk shows of the day including Letterman, Arsenio, and Leno, and wrote and starred in his own 1990 stand up comedy special "Upside Down Under" for the Showtime Network. He also did a very well received stand up comedy special for the BET Network in 2004.

Ajaye emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1997, but returns to the United States periodically to do work on television. His last US television appearance was on Paul Provenza's "The Greenroom" on Showtime in 2011. He is known in Australia for his appearances on The Panel and Thank God You're Here, and his popular one man shows "Nothing But The Truth", "Talkin' Vagabond Jazz", and "Vagabond jazz & The Abstract Truth" at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Comedy material from that show is on the album of the same name. Ajaye who plays excellent clarinet, along with his virtuoso brother Eric on bass and soprano saxophone, performed a "one night only" sold out show at the famous Melbourne jazz club "Bennett's Lane at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival in 2000. Music from that performance is also on the album "Vagabond Jazz & The Abstract Truth".

He has also worked as an actor, appearing in films such as Car Wash, Convoy, Stir Crazy, The 1980 version of The Jazz Singer, Hollywood Shuffle, and The Wrong Guys. He has been seen more recently in the TV show Deadwood. Ajaye has also been nominated twice for the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program for In Living Color (1990) and Politically Incorrect (1997).[1]

On his stand-up television show Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, British comedian Stewart Lee mocked Ajaye's LP I'm a Comedian, Seriously,[2] sarcastically questioning the track titles of "Homosexuals," "Girls With Big Breasts," and "Dick Caught In Zipper," in the context of the implication of the album sleeve notes that Ajaye was a deep thinker.[3]

On an episode of Thank God You're Here, Tony Martin showed Ajaye a copy of his comedy album Plaid Pants And Psychopaths which has his first name misspelled.

Ajaye is the author Comic Insights: The Art of Standup Comedy (ISBN 978-1-879505-54-4), which contains tips for aspiring comedians, as well as interviews on their craft, and working methods with such comics as Jonathan Winters, George Carlin, Chris Rock, Roseanne, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Maher, Garry Shandling, Richard Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld, and many others.

In 2011, Ajaye had a small but memorable role, and line in the box office hit Bridesmaids, playing the father of Lillian (played by Maya Rudolph).

His comedic influences include Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Robert Klein, Bill Cosby, and Nichols and May.[4]


  1. ^ "Awards for Franklyn Ajaye".
  2. ^ "Stewart Lee: Scrambled Egg". Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  3. ^ Logan, Brian (August 8, 2008). "Edinburgh festival: Stewart Lee". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Green Room 2.2 - Kathy Griffin, Dana Gould, Franklyn Ajaye, Greg Proops". Retrieved 2012-04-01. 

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