Cardis Cardell Willis

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Cardis Cardell Willis
Willis on stage before a comeback on a heckler
Born (1937-04-20)April 20, 1937
Forest, Mississippi, U.S.
Died February 10, 2007(2007-02-10) (aged 69)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Medium Stand-up comedy
Nationality American
Years active c1950s–1990s
Genres Satire, Observational comedy, Black comedy, Improvisational comedy, Character comedy
Subject(s) race relations, American politics, African-American culture, human sexuality, self-deprecation, everyday life, family

Cardis Cardell Willis, better known as Cardell Willis, and often billed as C. Cardell Willis, was an influential Milwaukee comic. He was locally known mostly in the 1970s, 1980's, and 1990's. He went by the name Cardell socially and professionally, but used his formal name legally.

Willis was born in 1937 either on April 20th, or August 3rd. The discrepancy is due to the remoteness of his hometown of Forest, Mississippi, and that births had to reported in the capital of Jackson at the time.

He was mentor to Will Durst before his eventual fame in San Francisco, and Dobie Maxwell, as well as Richard Halasz, and Chris Barnes, all of whom are natives to Milwaukee.

He eventually developed Alzheimers which robbed him of his ability to tell the storied jokes he was known for. He died on February 10, 2007 in a group home at age 69 after suffering two strokes. He was buried at Graceland Cemetery in Milwaukee.

A tribute show occurred to honor Willis' contributions, and generosity to his peers, and community. The MC was Dobie Maxwell, who called Willis his Comedy Father. The tribute show was donation supported and the remaining proceeds were given to the Boy Scouts of America, in which Willis was a Scoutmaster and had received the Silver Beaver Award.

According to, Mayor Barrett designated April 22, 2012, as Cardell Willis Day.