Pigmeat Markham (April 18, 1904 - December 13, 1981) was an entertainer from the United States of America, best known as a comedian; Markham was also a singer, dancer, and actor.
"Pigmeat" was born as Dewey Markham in Durham, North Carolina. He was sometimes creditied in movies as David "Pigmeat" Markham. Markham began his career in traveling African American music and burlesque shows. For a time he was a member of Bessie Smith's traveling review.
Markham became better known in Vaudeville in the 1920s. He said he originated the Truckin' dance which became nationally popular at the start of the 1930s. In the 1940s he started making film appearances.
Starting in the 1950s Pigmeat Markham began appearing on television, making multiple appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show.
His boisterous, indecorous "heyeah (here) come duh judge" shtik, which made a mockery of formal courtroom etiquette, became his signature routine. Markham would sit at an elevated judge's bench (often in a black graduation cap-and-gown, to look more impressive), and deal with a series of comic miscreants. He would often deliver his 'judgments,' as well as express frustration with the accused, by leaning over the bench and smacking the accused with an inflated bladder-balloon. He had hit comedy recordings in the 1960s on Chess Records, and saw his routine's entry line become a catch phrase on the Laugh-In television show, as did his phrase Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls.
Ironically, Markham's most famous routine was 'discovered' by the general public only after Sammy Davis, Jr. had performed it as a guest on Laugh-In. Due to the years of racial discrimination in the entertainment world, Markham had almost exclusively performed on the African-American "Chitlin' Circuit" of vaudeville, theatres, and night clubs; thus, he was not widely known by white audiences.
The success of Davis's appearance led to Markham's opportunity to perform his signature Judge character during his one season on Laugh-In. Archie Campbell later adapted Markham's routine, performing as "Justus O'Peace," on the country version of Laugh-In, Hee Haw, which borrowed heavily from the African-American minstrel tradition.
Thanks to his Heyeah come duh judge routine, which originally was accompanied by music with a funky beat, Pigmeat Markham is regarded as a forerunner of rappers.