On Wayne Brady’s Rebuking of Bill Maher

By Arturo R. García

I want to keep rooting for Wayne Brady. But while (rightly) defending himself against Bill Maher’s lazy accusations on Monday on HuffPost Live on Monday, Brady chose to travel an equally low road.

In the interview with Marc Lamont Hill, Brady justifiably states that Maher’s use of Brady as a “cultural lynchpin” with which to chide President Barack Obama for not being “black enough” is bullsh-t, and mentions Maher’s white privilege. He also levels an excellent shot on Maher’s appearance in DC Cab. But then this happens:

Just because you’ve been with a black woman or two — and I’ve seen some of them; it’s questionable if they were women — just because you’ve done that … now you lived the black experience? Oh, now you’re down? No.

As Brady points out, that’s actually a callback to statements he made on Aisha Tyler’s podcast in July 2012:

… So, that means that’s it’s a diss to Obama to be called me because [Maher] wants a brother-brother, or what he perceives. Just because you f-ck black hookers, just because you have that particular black experience. And I have to stop myself from getting into it with Bill because the thing is, if I would’ve gone on his show or even doing it online, I’m not gonna win. … Now, I’m not saying I’m Billy Badass, but if Bill Maher has his perception of what’s black wrapped up, I would gladly slap the shit out of Bill Maher in the middle of the street, and then I want to see what Bill Maher would do.

So in two instances within a year of one another, Brady can’t call out Maher’s already-shoddy insinuation that he has a “Black pass” without dragging women into it. With respect, transphobic jokes don’t help his case. It’s just substituting one form of prejudice for another in the guise of humor.

Brady’s latest statement also plays out like an over-the-top recreation of his famous guest turn on Chappelle’s Show at a time when we should be celebrating his latest achievements. Brady is now not only the host of Let’s Make A Deal, but he’s set to return as part of a rebooted Who’s Line Is It Anyway? alongside new host Tyler.

It is also disappointing to see that Hill never pushes back. As HuffPo Live becomes a bigger platform — the channel reached a deal last month to air a six-hour block on cable television — Hill and his staff should be thinking of what they want to project as their channel’s values. And allowing these kinds of statements, “comedic” or not, to go by without question does not constitute a good look for Hill (or for Tyler either, for that matter).

And if Brady really wants to “beat Maher’s ass,” he’d do more lasting damage challenging Maher’s inanity directly than engaging in dude-bro rhetoric. The case can be made that Brady could actually benefit from going on Maher’s show. After all, Real Time plays to a studio and television audience that is likely more progressive than its’ predecessor, Politically Incorrect. Brady calling Maher out on the “black enough” jokes and on his privilege would likely win him some support in the public arena, since it’s also heavily featured in news and political blogs.

Being shown up on his home court might finally make Maher realize that playing the Quentin Card makes him look more like Daniel Tosh than George Carlin. And Brady shouldn’t have to make himself look just as bad as Maher to expose that truth.

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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  • Someguy

    I take your point. still, the only distinction I can see is an in group/ out group dynamic. In group members get the benefit of the doubt, while out group members don’t. that’s all this really boils down to. Mooney gets a pass, Maher doesn’t. And that’s fine, but why pretend its more complicated

    • I Hate Titty Tats

      Do you really think Wayne Brady didnt have a problem with it before Maher did it? People are so unrealistic on the internet. I bet he’s been hearing this his whole life. A nerd like Bill Maher mocking his blackness was just too much for him to accept tho. Maher crosses the line frequently. Not just with WB. He has that trait where he feels like he can say what he wants because he sleeps with the enemy. And I like his show. The problem happens when outsiders try to paint us all with one brush. Personally I go from geeky to gangster and just as an individual am more diverse than that. How can our culture not be? I know it was a joke but sometimes people need to watch their mouths. Sometimes being disrespectful should have consequences more detrimental than a conversation. Basically I think a smack or two would adjust his attitude the correct amount. Especially coming from “safe” Wayne Brady.

  • Miles_Ellison

    Nobody is willing to do that kind of intellectual heavy lifting. White people use the N word because they think it’s funny. And an alarming number of them are more comfortable with stereotypes than real people.

  • someguy

    Paul Mooney said almost exactly the same thing as Maher on Chappelle show. Substituting Malcolm X for Suge Knight as a stand in for the “very black guy”. I understand that the same joke takes on a different meaning depending on the race of the commedian, but to me the reasons for why that might be are the most interesting part of all of this.

  • justlikeoldtimes

    Bill Maher:
    – Islamophobe
    – Racist
    – Misogynist
    – Promotes insane conspiracy theories on vaccinations
    – SOPA defender
    – Culture war hack
    – Embraced by “progressives”

  • Keith

    When Tavis Smiley Challenged Bill Maher on Bill Maher’s anti islamophobic rhetoric, it spelled the end of his appearance on cable and network t.v.. I really don’t like Bill Maher or his so called “liberal and informed audience” That being said, who’s to say that this BEEF isn’t some type of publicity stunt to boost ratings?

  • Nikita

    Honestly, sometimes, just sometimes, as a minority you get tired of taking the moral high road. Just plain old fashioned tired of it. Though I wish Wayne had, I understand why he did not. I wish folks would go after Bill Maher who has told that tired story about the stereotypical black man that Obama does not portray and set him straight. Being a race or a person who is supposed to forever say I forgive you for your ignorant, insensitive, racially motivated, arrogant and yes hurtful statements about myself and my people gets tiring as hell. I frankly think in a way, it is sometimes good for others to see that. Nobody is going to play superhuman on all fronts, or super mature on all fronts because another refuses to stop being immature and placing people in convenient negative boxes. Again, that ish gets tiring.