Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 42 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Sorry, Blake! Ryan Reynolds 'Would Sooner Drill a Hole into the Top of My Head' Than Embrace Her Decorating Hobby
- Read the Cover Story: Ryan Reynolds: Sexiest Dad Alive
- This Bag Is Actually Three Bags in One
- 'All Liberty-loving Americans Should Be in Mourning': Trump, Cruz and More React to Death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia
- 'It Was a Total Whiteout': Severe Weather Causes 50-car Pileup in Pennsylvania, Leaving at Least 3 Dead
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- November 14, 1983
- Vol. 20
- No. 20
Rubber-Faced and Razor-Tongued, Street Comedian Charlie Barnett Steps Up to the Silver Screen
With his swizzle-stick hips undulating and his face in a permanent snarl, Charlie Barnett, 29, stands on the street corner and batters New Yorkers with racial and sexual wisecracks. Next spring he'll be assaulting the rest of America as "Tyrone Bywater, the badass nigger" in a movie called D.C. Cab (also starring Mr. T).
With biting barbs, Barnett has been hustling humor on the streets and the comedy-club circuit for the past six years. His career as a comedian started by accident when he accompanied a folksinger he knew to an audition. The friend, however, introduced Barnett as the act. "I killed 'em," he insists.
Barnett's wit developed in the reform schools where he grew up, a slightly built boy trying to joke people out of beating him up. His mother had a drinking problem, and his father was mentally ill, so Charlie was raised by his grandmother in Bluefield, W.Va.
A troublemaker, he skipped out of Bluefield at age 11, one week before he was supposed to enter a reformatory. Heading to Boston to meet his mother for the first time, he admits, "I was pretty hostile." Then, at 12, his mother gave him the boot. Gangs, heroin, crime and reform school followed.
Leaving Boston at 19, Barnett drifted to New York City and into street comedy. A chance for big money came in 1979 when Barnett auditioned for Saturday Night Live. Yet he failed to show up for the subsequent reading. "I was too scared," he confesses. "I read good, but I read slow." Of the man who landed the role, Eddie Murphy, Barnett says, "I think I'm very jealous."
Jealous he may be, but now that Barnett has signed a three-picture deal with Universal, he is brimming with confidence. "If you took Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and Robin Williams and mixed 'em together," he declares, "you'd have Charlie Barnett."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!