Tag Archives: comedy

In defense of russell peters: are racial stereotypes ever funny?

by Special Correspondent Thea Lim

When is it ok to laugh at comedy based on racial stereotypes?

After our past conversation on Bernie Mac and “in house” jokes and the sudden gruesome ubiquity of Esther Ku, the answer seems to be, Uh, never.

But then, where does that leave Indian Canadian comedian Russell Peters?

This is where I need some help: I freakin’ love Russell Peters. Am I a disgusting hypocrite?

His act is littered with sexism, he’s made a household name for himself with a joke condoning child abuse (somebody gonna get a hurt real bad…), and one of his hottest bits involves mocking South African names. But everyone I know loves him – particularly people of colour, and anti-racist people of colour at that.

Is it because he’s irresistibly likeable? I’d like to think that it takes more than a goofy face to make us abandon our politics. Is it because he’s not only Canadian, but from just outside of Toronto, one of my hometowns? Apparently not, because I was introduced to him by my BFF in Singapore.

I have an inkling as to why it seems ok to like Peters. Last year at VONA, a yearly creative writing workshop for writers of colour, I met the wondrous Junot Díaz who introduced my group to his theory on the Wheel of Tyranny.

Díaz argued that too many books by writers of colour represent only two ethnicities per book: people from the writer’s own community of colour, and white folks. Continue reading

Quoted: Aaron McGruder on Satire

What responsibilities, if any, do satirists have to their audience? Are they obligated to deliver a message while also making us laugh?

I don’t think anyone can define the rules for satire. We operate with the message — that’s the easy part. Everyone sits at home with their political opinions. The important thing is making it as funny as possible and knowing when to pull back on the message for the sake of the message…. It’s indulgent to turn off the audience for the sake of preaching — the goal is not to turn off the viewer. … But it can never just [be about the jokes] for me. I’m not like a funny person. I’m not like a comedian. I have things I want to say. … Bill Maher does find a nice balance between the jokes and tackling the serious issues. So few outlets [offer] those issues in a serious fashion.

Do you think a satirist can influence public opinion, be it a viewer or a voter?

Good satire goes beyond the specific point it’s trying to make and teaches you how to think critically. Even when your favorite cartoonist retires or Colbert wraps it up, you’re not left believing everything they’re telling you. That’s probably what you’re hoping for as a satirist.


So what’s satire’s role at the end of the day?

It’s still about imparting a message about the lies a society tells itself. We can all live in collective denial. We can lie to ourselves pretty easily. It’s a challenge. Satire is the least commercially viable form of comedy. … There really is a distaste for being preached at. People have a very low tolerance for it — newspaper audiences have a way higher tolerance for it than others. But it’s tough on TV.

— From The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs blog. Continue reading the full article here.

Open Thread: Misogyny, Race, and Comedy

by Latoya Peterson

I am opening a separate thread on this because it is difficult not to ignore. (I just did not want it discussed while discussing the New Yorker cover.)

So, while at a Obama fundraiser, Bernie Mac decided to perform his usual schtick*:

Speaking to about 600 donors at a downtown hotel, Mac joked that he did not understand why Obama would want to run for president.

“I’m proud of him because politics is dirty, especially with Republicans,” he said. “People like rumors. They are going to say things like, you know, ‘You was in the club with Lil’ Kim and you and Kanye West got in a fist fight.’”

Mac went on to riff about hope and offering himself as a running mate, but then added that the campaign might not want him because “I cuss,” which he did, according to a pool report of the event.

“Being a president is tough ’cause you’re not just running the country. You got to run your family too,” Mac said. “Having a black first lady is different. You’re still going have to do the dishes and the laundry and all that…’You got to pick up the kids. You didn’t pick up the kids?’ ‘I just came from Korea, talking about nuclear weapons.’ ‘You were on Air Force One and you couldn’t stop to pick up the kids?’”

Continue reading

The Daily Show Introduces Us to Gitmo

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie

In this clip from YouTube, we see Gitmo the Puppet’s first appearance, as well as a subsequent appearance. In Gitmo’s first appearance, he’s introduced as a bearded (and presumably Muslim) detainee of Guantanamo Bay with a fakey “Middle Eastern” accent. (He is also an obvious relative of Elmo, for those of you who can’t see the video. – Ed.) Gitmo pleads, “Tell Gitmo’s family Gitmo is aliiiive.”

In the subsequent appearance, Gitmo appears, calling for the execution (and therefore, according to Jon Stewart, martyrdom) of Sheikh Khalid Mohammed and other defendants who admit to planning terrorist activities. When Stewart questions him about his intentions, Gitmo says, “You can’t handle the truth” and then ululates. In retaliation, Stewart “waterboards” him and tells him not to complain or he’ll go back to the “untrained puppy room.” Cut to Gitmo being dragged around by a dog and wailing, “I’m just a cab driverrrrrrr…” Continue reading

Meet Esther Ku, the Asian Sarah Silverman

by Latoya Peterson

So, while moderating the Interracial Dating with a Vengeance thread, I was doing my best to save the kittens* when someone brought up Esther Ku.

Alvin, writing on the Hyphen blog, says:

What kind of insecure person makes a career basically being self-racist or self-deprecating and saying how much you hate yourself, who you are, and your family?

He points to this Boston Globe article which gives a summary of Ku’s act:

The Korean-American comedian started with the words, ”I don’t really like being Asian, but I’m kind of stuck with it.” That, at least, received a few titters. But when she continues, ”The only good thing about being Asian, really, is it helps you get into college,” the crowd stays silent. It goes downhill from there as she mines the subject of Caucasians adopting Asian babies.

”Nigerian babies cost like 25 cents a day,” says Ku. ”Asian babies cost a lot more because they pay off.”

As the crowd erupts in pained groans and a smattering of uncomfortable laughs, Ku innocently asks, ”Did I go too far?”

Continue reading

“The Cleveland Show” Family Guy Spin-Off is Looking Questionable

by Latoya Peterson

I am generally amused by Family Guy, and tend to watch it if it is on television that day though I generally don’t bother to tune in to new episodes. So, when I heard the black character Cleveland was getting a spin-off show, I was intrigued…and wondering what the hell they would do because I find Cleveland kind of boring. I would much rather have watched a Quagmire spin-off.

So then I look at the promo still on Spill:

Did anyone else’s what-the-fuck-o-meter just go off? Continue reading

Open Thread: Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Okay, y’all – who saw the movie over the weekend?

If you did not see the movie because you found the first H & K too sexist, I am here right now to tell you that you made the right choice because the second movie is even worse. (Though, you do get to see three different men breakdown over their respective lost loves and one of the biggest misogynists get their comeuppance.)

If you have not yet seen the movie, please do not read any further because here there be spoilers. Continue reading

TV Flashback: Living Single

by Latoya Peterson

Living Single
recently popped back into my mind after I overheard a woman on her cellphone loudly telling a friend “I’ll be right there, but first I need to go home and change my wig!”

That one little comment uttered on the metro brought back one of my favorite Regine lines of all time, after she broke up with the toy maker guy – “Of course the doll is me! It comes with five interchangeable wigs!”*

And with that, I found myself scouring the internet looking for information on Living Single. I remember watching the reruns around 1996 and 1997 – I was in middle school at the time. Wondering if my memories of the show withstood the test of time, I watched a few episodes on YouTube - and I was pleased to find out that the show has gotten better with age, now that I understand a lot more of the references. Continue reading