Tag Archives: comedy

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

Variations on a Meme: Stuff Black/Educated Black/Asian People Like/Love

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Stuff White People Like has been linked by about 20 of the blog feeds I read on the regular. That’s saying a lot. I finally decided to go check it out to see what I was missing.

Reading the blog with my boyfriend, I was amused – until my boyfriend cracked “You know, you like half of this stuff too. By SWPL standards, you could be white.”

Less amused.

Sure, I like yoga, tea, wine, and Mos Def like anyone else. And I love having black friends. But I scored 27 out of 84 on the Stuff White People Like for a 32% whiteness factor. Looks like I don’t have to trade in my race card just yet!

I talked to Hae about this, and she pointed out that I’m Asian anyway. Which, again, I do protest. Why can’t I just be a black person with diverse interests? Why do I have to magically transform into different ethnicities all the time?

Luckily for me, there are a few other sites to check my “other race” quotient.

Stuff Asian People Like

In the same vein as SWPL, Stuff Asian People Like serves up semi-stereotypical notes on a culture from those who live it each day. From Plush Toys and Purikura to Honda Civics and Chopsticks, I was also amused at this site.

However, there is one crucial difference between SAPL and SWPL – Asian people have more than a few things to be pissed about. So, SAPL occassionally becomes a platform to combat ignorance. Exhibit A – The Anime Post:

WE LOVE ANIME! It is part of the asian culture. We embrace it. The multi-billion dollar industry has stretched from the minuscule islands of Japan all the way to the comic book shops of Europe, Asia, and the Americas. However, there are many types of anime lovers: those who try to be asian, and those who are full-blooded asians. Being white doesn’t make someone conservative. Being African American doesn’t make someone a professional basketball player. Likewise, being an anime lover does not automatically make you asian.

Continue reading

Sumpin’ Turrrrble: SNL’s Keenan Thompson Performs Minstrel Act

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse, originally published at The Coup Magazine (blog)

I didn’t get a chance to see the entire episode of Saturday Night Live this weekend, but I came across a segment clip from NBC’s website that made my blood curdle. SNL’s guest this week was the young actress of Juno fame, Ellen Page, whose comedic timing proved powerful yet equally disturbing in a piece with Keenan Thompson, the only black member of the cast (Maya Rudolph, who is half black-American, half white Jewish, identifies as multiracial), entitled “Virginiaca Goes to Baby Gap.” You can see the full video of the sketch here, but I’ll give you a little re-cap:

An overweight black woman who, only for lack of a better term, would be characterized as “ghetto” stumbles out of breath into a Baby Gap store (as it’s on the second floor) with a pastry in hand. She practically sexually harasses the Baby Gap employee (played by Andy Samberg). Her step-daughter, played by Ellen Page, corn-rowed, permed, and wearing a tracksuit, enters the store, demanding to try on spandex pants she’d like to wear as booty shorts. Angered that the Baby Gap employee won’t allow her to try on the pants for fear that she’ll stretch out the merchandise (as it’s meant for BABIES), Page’s character and Virginiaca name drop (as Virginiaca’s new husband is a wealthy white aluminum tycoon, the daughter of whom she has clearly “corrupted”) in hopes of getting their way. After a slew of aural and visual stereotype guest appearances (including the “booty back and forth” dance and repeated overt and unwanted flirting with the sales guy), the segment ends with the sales person quitting and Virginiaca in all fours on a merchandise stand continuing her “booty back and forth” dance in the store.

While SNL has engaged in black/brownface before, including having light-skinned Latino Fred Armisen play presidential hopeful Barack Obama, and Darrell Hammond play Jesse Jackson and Geraldo Rivera,they were impressions, albeit good ones, and I never found offense in having the best cast members for the job portray important members of our society who happened to have darker skin than theirs. Yet when I saw the “Shopping with Virginiaca” sketch, which apparently is a regular segment on the show, I felt something different. Keenan Thompson, though black, was performing a blackface minstrelsy routine that went far beyond basic impressions of famous people. He was poking fun, sure, but in a way that ultimately cements what black women are and how we are viewed by the general public.

The routine was all the more significant in its meaning when I first saw it as I had just ended a conversation with a white colleague regarding how much I tire of the negative images of black women on tv that are so powerful that I can’t help but wonder whether or not people expect this behavior of me when they see me on the bus, on the subway, or in the street, no matter how I am dressed, how I speak, my job titles, or what school I went to. The stereotype precedes me. It walks 10 feet ahead, greeting those who pass by before I can say a word. And shame on you, Keenan Thompson, for making the stereotype strong enough to tackle me down before I can open my mouth to interrupt its first impressions. Continue reading

Meet the man behind “Stuff White People Like”

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

A ton of you have been writing to me about a new blog called Stuff White People Like. It’s a hilarious, satirical Wikipedia-esque guide to exactly what the title says, filled with dead-on observations that make you laugh in surprise and recognition. And when I say recognition, I mean not only that I’ve noticed a lot of the behavior mentioned in white people I know, but also that I recognize myself (hey, I am half white) in a lot of the posts.

One of my favorite posts is “Top Ten Hip Hop Songs White People Love,” especially this part:

I was preparing to write a post about how white people love “old school” hip hop, and take it very seriously. Or perhaps how they love “conscious” hip hop that so vitally addresses the problems of a community that they don’t belong to. Remember, they aren’t dancing or jogging to this music for fun – it’s for a social cause.

I’ve always wondered why it is that most audience members at “conscious” rap concerts are white – a question tackled by Bakari Kitwana a couple years ago in a piece he did for the Village Voice titled “The Cotton Club“. The title is “a reference to the 1920s and ’30s Harlem jazz spot where Black musicians played to whites-only audiences.”

Isn’t there something condescending about non-black people telling black people what kind of hip hop they should listen to when hip hop is arguably a black art form to begin with?

Anyway, I mention all this because from the first time I saw the site, I’ve been wondering who the hell started it all. And now we know, thanks to The Assimilated Negro, who just landed a two-part interview (part 1, part 2) with the man behind the blog. Here are some interesting excerpts:

SWPL: ok. I am white. here is another non surprise. there are pictures of me on the site. I’m the dude recycling. and the guy at dim sum. and the guy holding the iphone. and the bicycle picture is my bicycle.

TAN: ha…. SCOOP!

SWPL: I work here in Los Angeles as a Copywriter/Corporate Communications person.

TAN: do you consider yourself aligned with the white people you profile? You’re white, but are you whom you describe/study?

SWPL: oh yes. this site pokes fun at ME. that’s why I use pictures of myself. those aren’t taken out of irony. this is the shit that I do. I need to call myself out for all of the stupid shit that I take for granted. why do I need $300 bike rims? why is a $10 sandwich considered normal?

TAN: When did you become self-conscious about your “whiteness”? When do you think the white liberal guilt kicks in? Is there an age? a rite of passage? do you need to see some black comedians talk about it? all of the above?

SWPL: Well remember a lot of the white people I’m lampooning (including myself) always can laugh at the comic view stuff because we’re like “yeah, those OTHER white people, they are ridiculous.” I grew up in Chinatown, in Toronto East Chinatown. a neighborhood bordered by a housing project, greektown, and little india. the neighborhood was always safe, but it’s gentrified like crazy in the past ten years. but I would say growing up there made me aware of whiteness right away. I knew most chinese slurs for white people by age 10. but at the same time, I wasn’t isolated. Toronto produces some pretty diverse crews of friends.

TAN: Do you see any difference in response between whites and minorities/ethnics?

SWPL: not really sure. They are all email responses, so people could be lying. For the most part the response is positive from everyone. Most of the white people who write in are the ones being satirized, and they get the joke. The minorities who write in usually love the blog, they are also usually the first to go after white people who say that the blog is racist. The best response I’ve seen so far is someone who said, “there’s a big difference, you haven’t been denied a job because you like Yoga and Expensive Sandwiches.” I think that put things into perspective pretty quickly.

Who is allowed to laugh at black culture?

by guest contributor Tami Winfrey Harris, originally published at What Tami Said

Last month, the New York Times reviewed comedian Chris Rock’s New Year’s Eve stand-up performance at Madison Square Garden. the review alleged that while Rock is still edgy and, most importantly, funny, the comedian has shifted his approach to racial comedy over the years. Kelefah Sanneh wrote:

Where once he held forth conspiratorially, flattering fans by sharing taboo insights with them, now he is more likely to hold forth confrontationally, as a way (perhaps) to acknowledge the Michael Scotts in the crowd. Where once he was mainly descriptive, now he is prescriptive too. Monday’s set included a long bit about when it is permissible for white people to use his favorite racial epithet (there is only one hypothetical occasion, and it involves extreme suffering); advice to women with careers not to complain to their nannies; and an explanation of why no one should have been surprised when Don Imus made his comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

Conscious of the weight on his shoulders, Mr. Rock now seems a little less roguish and a little more righteous. Almost out of the blue, he asked, “Do you know how much better Seabiscuit’s life was than my grandfather’s?” And a riff on Regis Philbin built to a climax that was shocking and amusing in equal measure.

“Michael Scott” refers to the lead character on NBC’s popular “The Office.” Despite Scott’s professed tolerance, he often horrifies his staff with social gaffes related to race, gender and sexual orientation. In a recent episode, Scott performed Chris Rock’s infamous “two kinds of black people” routine and later wondered “How come Chris Rock can do a routine, and everybody finds it hilarious and groundbreaking, and then I go and do the exact same routine, same comedic timing, and people file a complaint to corporate?”

My question is not why non-black people need to tread carefully when finding humor in African American culture. I find it disingenuous when people claim to not understand why jokes at a group’s expense (or certain words) are not appropriate when they come from outside of the group.My question is, is it okay for black folks to laugh at the racial stereotypes often found in comedy? What does it say about us? And what responsibility do black comedians have to censor what they say when their words have the power to influence mainstream perceptions of our race?

The topic of race seems to be a mainstay for modern black comics. Some, like Chris Rock, are able to tackle sensitive issues deftly. But a bunch are BET’s Comic View-type hacks that traffic in “black people do this” and “white people do that” jokes. If you’ve ever heard these ubiquitous comedians, you know that in their routines the things black people do are always negative. We have bad credit. We have bad attitudes. We are always late. We are lazy. We do drugs. Black men are unfaithful. Black women are loud, aggressive and emasculating. Both black men and women are hyper sexual and crass.

These gross generalizations and stereotypes don’t seem to bother black audiences or black comedians. Is it because we have internalized society’s negative view of us? Though we’ll go to battle if a Don Imus cracks wise about black folks, do we secretly believe all the bad things people say? I find it telling that Dave Chapelle was okay with his TV show’s often prejudiced content until he noticed that a white guy was laughing a little too hard at the jokes.

I’ll admit it…I laugh at Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle. Can’t stomach the Comic View brigade, though. I would be surprised if there is a black person who hasn’t ever nodded and smirked at one of those “black people do this” routines. But laughter seems a lot like acceptance and knowing that makes me awfully uncomfortable.

Is it really okay for me, a black woman, to laugh along with stereotypes? And even if, as black people, popular comics have the right to send up African Americans and our habits, is it prudent for them to do so? Are they just polluting the social atmosphere, keeping black minds colonized and stoking prejudices in white minds?

Surprisingly, on this issue, I don’t have an answer. Maybe you do. What do you think?

Note from Carmen: If you haven’t already, be sure to check out tstorm’s excellent documentary on race and humor

MadTV turns Obama into a mandingo

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

As early as April, we began seeing emails floating around linking Barack Obama with a sexual desire for white women. Now the “he’s coming for our white women” sentiment has gone mainstream, thanks to this dumb-as-shit MadTV skit. (Thanks Wendi.)

Maybe I’m missing something, but to me this presidential race is about as sexual as Tay Zonday’s last visit to the optometrist.

Only a society that has internalized stereotypes about black men as sexual predators and women as sex objects could come up with as crude a sexual narrative as we see here.

MadTV has done some good commentaries on race in the past (especially Aren’t Asians Great? and Nice White Lady). But this piece of racist and sexist drivel is just a fucking embarrassment.