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Was The Bernie Mac Show based off a True Story?

Some shows, like Star Trek, are too obviously fictional to be true. Meanwhile, other shows follow story lines that feel so real that there’s no way they could be false. Not only is The Bernie Mac Show a realist sit-com, it also has the main star, Bernie Mac, using his real name.

All of this has us asking — was The Bernie Mac Show based on a true story?

The Bernie Mac Show is a sitcom that has the main star, Bernie Mac, using his real name. Was this show based on a true story of Bernie Mac’s life? Let’s see.

Starting with Standup

Bernie Mac was a comedian first, actor second. His medium of comedy was standup. His standup career launched him into the spotlight and gave his name recognition.

This fact led people to speculate that The Bernie Mac Show was real because his character in the show is also a standup comedian. This could be just a character choice, similar to how Seinfeld is a comedian both on his show and off, yet the events that occurred in the Seinfeld show were not based in reality.

This much we know — the character of Bernie Mac was based personality and career wise on the real Bernie Mac.

Children on and Off Screen

However, the story of a man gaining his nieces and nephews as kids after their mom falls into drug use, is based off a standup act. The real Bernie Mac even took in his niece and her child in 1994. This story was the inspiration for his standup routine and eventually the inspiration for the entire show.

In The Bernie Mac Show, he has no biological kids of his own but instead raises his nieces and nephews after his sister ends up in rehab. This does differ though from his real life, where he has a biological daughter.

In 2000, on the film The Original Kings of Comedy, Bernie Mac preforms a set that has this premise and story as the main punchline. It’s no surprise that the writers took this concept and applied it to the show.

Other Similiarities within the Story

In the show, Bernie Mac often breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera and addressing the audience as “America”. This actually came from his standup acts where Mac would break the fourth wall and address the crowd as America.

Also, The Bernie Mac Show takes place in Chicago, Illinois, which was where the real Bernie Mac grew up.


Every story is based in a little bit of truth. This also holds true for The Bernie Mac Show.

The Bernie Mac Show was not entirely based on Bernie Mac’s life story, but it was based on snippets of true scenarios and honest standup that Mac lived and wrote.

Mac’s personal life stories and his standup acts seem to have largely influenced the beloved show.

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  • Ariele is an honor graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a theatre arts BA. She’s a freelance writer who especially loves humor and travel writing. When she’s not writing she’s crafting and thrifting.

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