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.