Franklyn Ajaye is an American stand-up comedian and actor….whose nickname is “The Jazz Comedian” for his distinctive jazz inflected style of delivery, timing, and astute use of silence. Ajaye was born in Brooklyn, New York….but raised in Los Angeles by a Sierra Leonean father….whom he is named after…. along with his American mother (Quetta) making Ajaye….as he likes to joke….a “true African-American”. He has released five comedy albums to date including 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…..while making his first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson a year later. Ajaye emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1997….but returns to the United States periodically to do work on television. His last American 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.
He has worked as an actor, appearing in films such as Sweet Revenge (1976), Car Wash (1976), Convoy (1978), Stir Crazy (1980), the 1980 version of The Jazz Singer, Hysterical (1982), Get Crazy (1983), Fraternity Vacation (1985), Hollywood Shuffle (1987), The Wrong Guys (1988), The ‘Burbs (1989) and American Yakuza (1993). In 2011, Ajaye had a small but memorable role in the box office hit Bridesmaids….where he played the father of Lillian (played by Maya Rudolph). He has been seen more recently in the TV show Deadwood….and also appeared on an episode of Barney Miller as police car thief Frasier Wilton in 1976. He has been nominated twice for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program for In Living Color (1990) and Politically Incorrect (1997).
He has worked with the hit family comedy series created and executive-produced by Robert Townsend The Parent ‘Hood (January 1995-July 1999)….where some of his credits on the show include acting as “executive consultant” with Barry “Berry” Douglas in season 1 episode 9 (“Trial by Jerri”) and episode 11 (“Nice Guys Finish Last”)….as well as a co-producer with Douglas for season 2 episode 2 (“A Kiss is Just a Kiss”). Ajaye is the author of Comic Insights: The Art of Standup Comedy….which contains tips for aspiring comedians. His comedic influences include Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Robert Klein, Bill Cosby and Nichols and May….of which many appear in our Comedy Section here at ImaSportsphile.