Tag Archives: humor

The Office recap: Survivorman

by guest contributor Jasmine

“Survivorman” pits man against the nature (sort of) when Michael, jealous after Ryan invited Toby and all the other regional managers on a camping trip but not him, decides to spend some time in the woods. While Michael spends enough time in isolation to make his pants into shorts, and then back into pants, and then into a shelter, he doesn’t quite make it long enough to actually do any proper camping. No s’mores for Michael, now or for the forseeable future. Naturally, Dwight (who stuck around and hid after dropping Michael off) managed to show how useful and scary his own outdoorsman skills are.

Before too long, Michael and Dwight return to the office, where the remaining staffers are on the verge of rioting (albeit passive-aggressively) over Jim’s changes in how they celebrate birthdays in the office. We’re treated to clips of birthdays past — Michael scaring Phyllis nearly out of her car. Michael surprising Oscar so abruptly that Oscar falls on the floor. Michael getting up in Stanley’s face, then remarking “I guess black DOES crack!” just as Stanley gets ready to blow out the candles. Still nothing like Oscar’s Mexican-themed welcome back party in season 3′s “The Return”, but what could?

Jim’s desire to consolidate office birthday parties into a single annual event for all doesn’t take into consideration that for the Scranton office of Dunder-Mifflin, these parties are as vital as they are annoying. Sure, Michael will take the opportunity to celebrate and offend the birthday boy or girl, but the parties are still a welcome break from what would be a long, non-productive day. In the end, Jim realizes the errors of his ways, though not before he is threatened by birthday boy Creed, is not-so-accidentally called Michael by Phyllis (who conceals quite a bit of larceny under such a sweet demeanor), and writes a truly awful memo outlining the new short-lived birthday party policy. There is pie, a Fudgy the Whale ice cream cake from Carvel (my favorite!), and regular cake for everybody to consume. Also, Creed even has to skip around the room while everybody sings “Skip around the room! We won’t shut up until you skip around the room!” I can only hope my next office birthday is so frivolous, and so bursting with ice cream cake.

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The Office recap: Branch Wars

by guest contributor Jasmine

In the time that we have come to know and love Stanley Hudson as one of the beleaguered employees on “The Office”, we have seen the myriad offensive ovations suffered at the hands of his boss, Michael Scott. Stanley is recruited by Michael for a pick-up basketball game because he is Black. Stanley, though, always seems to prevail, confounding Michael’s racist presumptions with hilarious consequences. The problem, though, is that Michael never learns. He never learns that it’s wrong to assume that Stanley is a good basketball player because he is Black. He doesn’t understand why he can’t drop the n-word when impersonating Chris Rock. He finds it hard to believe that the White woman with Stanley at the Dundies is actually his wife. He’s surprised to learn that Stanley and his family don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. You know what I don’t understand? I don’t know how Stanley held out so long, and for so little.

Stanley finally gets his due, though, when he gets an offer to join the Utica branch, for more money and presumably a better boss: Karen, formerly of Stamford and Scranton, the girl Jim dated before he finally broke it off and started dating Pam. The Utica branch appears like an oasis in comparison to the dysfunctional drudgery of Scranton. Who can blame Stanley for wanting to leave? Apparently, Michael can: in a fit of exasperation, he announces Stanley’s leaving to the office. Unexpectedly, Stanley’s fellow employees applaud. Michael is beside himself: “You cannot take the hilarious Black guy from the office.” Going on, he lists Stanley’s assets: “bluesy wisdom, sassy remarks, crossword puzzles, his smile… those big, watery red eyes.” He pauses, then continues: “I don’t know how George Bush did it when Colin Powell left.” Stanley insists that the reason he’s leaving is money, and anyway, it’s probably his sales record that got him the job. I don’t see Karen running an want ad for “bluesy wise older Black gentleman”. Michael, still, is incredulous: “Mo’ money, mo’ problems, you of all people should know that.” Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! Again, I’m wondering why nobody calls Michael on his ignorance, but then I remember that Michel, not being smart, would never get it. But does that make it any less reasonable to try? How do you reason with the unreasonable?

Elsewhere in the office, Pam, Toby, and Oscar have started The Finer Things Club. Oscar says that, apart from having sex with men, it’s the gayest thing about him. Way to embrace the stereotype! Mainly, though, the Club discusses a book over a lunch tied to the book. E.M. Forster’s “A Room With A View” with tea and sandwiches. “Memoirs Of A Geisha” with sushi. Andy tries to join, but is unsuccessful. Jim’s eventual admission seems short-lived, as he may not have actually read “Angela’s Ashes”.

Eventually, the episode wanders from Stanley’s narrative to Michael who, if he cannot keep Stanley, will exact revenge on the Utica branch by sneaking into their office to steal their industrial copier. An interrogation from Karen, and Michael returns defeated to Scranton. He gets Pam started on a want ad: “Wanted, middle aged black man with sass, big butt, bigger heart.” Fortunately, we don’t hear any more of the ad, as Stanley surrenders. He’s staying — in fact, he never meant to leave. He just wanted to see if Michael would counter Karen’s offer of more money, and was surprised to see Michael calling his bluff. Which makes Stanley wonder if perhaps Michael is a secret genius after all. I doubt it. I’m disappointed in Stanley — he could have moved into a more diverse office with a boss who isn’t a racist for more money, but he stayed. I’m sure he has his reasons. What they might be, I can only hope to figure out.

Sarah Silverman does blackface

by guest contributor The Thin Black Duke, originally published at Slant Truth 2.0

I’m not a fan of Sarah Silverman. I find her humor juvenile and often offensive. She will stoop to the lowest level possible to try and get a laugh. Yet I was still shocked to learn that a recent episode of her show, titled “Face Wars,” went so low as to contain (oh yeah…you guessed it…the hip trend of last year hasn’t gone away yet) Silverman in blackface. Take a look:

Yep, she went there.

Now, I’m a big fan of comedy, especially subversive comedy, and so I understand that many comedians exploit stereotypes to get their point accross. Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Sacha Baron Cohen, among many others have all to varying degrees of success exploited racial/ethnic/religious stereotypes to get a point across. The difference, for me, is that they all exploited racial/ethnic/religious stereotypes in order to expose the ignorance of those stereotypes. In Silverman’s episode, it seems to me that she is revelling in stereotypes and trying to be as offensive as she possibly can. When I saw the bit where a black man is wearing a big nose and a t-shirt that reads “I love money” (the black man and Silverman attempt to switch places so that Silverman can prove that Jews have it worse than blacks, as if that’s a question worth asking) I almost threw my computer monitor out the window.1 Really? Did she need to go there? If you haven’t seen the episode you probably don’t get where I’m going here, but in the context of the show it is nothing but offensive to me and serves no purpose other than to perpetuate the faux black/Jewish divide.

What really gets my goat about this episode is that it’s all played off as “starting a dialogue about race.” Um no. All I see is the worst stereotypes about black folks and Jewish folks being perpetuated with little to no actual commentary on why these stereotypes are messed up in the first place. It’s all shock. No commentary. And when it has all ended, she has painted herself as the most “open-minded.” To wit, this little supposedly funny bit from the show:

“What do we want?”

“The freedom to explore issues of race in American culture through the use of post-modern dramatic irony.”

“When do we want it?”

“We think it’s fairly obvious.”

That could be funny in a lot of comedic situations, but here, I find it all too telling.

Boondocks recap: Stinkmeaner Strikes Back

by Racialicious guest contributor Jasmine

My first recap for this weeks episode of “The Boondocks”, “Stinkmeaner Strikes Back,” was a bit of a mess. A blow-by-blow recap of what happened, I didn’t put in much in the way of commentary because… I was scared. I admit it. Although I lobbied for the gig, the actual task of recapping “The Boondocks” is daunting because it’s a smart, funny show which draws a lot of fire for its routine use of the n-word, among other things. I like to think that I am sharp enough to know and to remember that the show performs cutting critiques on race and class, and I try not to worry too much that other viewers may just be taking the program at face value. If I believe I am laughing for the right reasons, I’d better make sure I reach out and engage those folks who may be laughing for the wrong ones.

At the same time, there’s nothing that makes me feel entitled to watch this show. I’m naturally attracted to any show, good or bad (whatever those words mean when applied to television), that is funny, engaging, and wants to engage in a discourse on race that doesn’t involve “very special episodes” or token characters like the ones often found on mainstream network television.

But what’s right and what’s wrong here? It’s hard to know where to begin, but here is what happens: the Freemans are set upon by the evil spirit of Colonel Stinkmeaner, the mean old man whom Granddad Robert killed accidentally in season one. The Colonel, having thrived on hate in life, is far too evil even for hell, and is sent back to Earth by the devil himself. Stinkmeaner’s spirit makes itself at home in the body of Tom DuBois, instigating bouts of meaningless violence and attacking the Freemans so that they might return to hell with him as his quarry. It takes some advice from the ghost of Ghostface Killah (yes, I know he’s not dead, so that one confused me, too) and a misguided exorcism led by everybody’s favorite Black white supremacist Uncle Ruckus to restore Tom’s spirit to his body, and finish off Stinkmeaner for good. While all this is going on, Granddad is trolling the internet for dates, though not with much success.

What I’ve left out is that each instance of the violence, as instigated by Stinkmeaner/Tom, was described as an example of what was called “a nigga moment”: “a moment where ignorance overwhelms the mind of an otherwise logical Negro male, causing him to act in an illogical, self-destructive manner, i.e. like a nigga.” I cringed every time I heard the phrase, but I didn’t stop watching. But was I accepting the premise of such a phenomenon? Do I believe that all Black men are susceptible to times of ignorance so profound that it clouds their judgement and causes them to act in a self-destructive manner? Of course not, and that’s why I thought the show was funny. It’s that line between the ridicule and stereotype, the gap between the sacred and the profane, on which “The Boondocks” is found. It knows what’s sacred, but is not afraid to use some humor to show its audience that it’s smart enough to know the difference.