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Episode 137 — Kroll Show

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Is Kroll Show racist? Andrew Ti & Jen Wang discuss the diversity controversy regarding Girls, the lack of diversity in all sitcoms, and do their best to answer this caller’s question. Be sure to keep leaving us messages at (323) 389-RACE.

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If you are incensed about misogyny in Hip Hop then you are a racist.

 

 

If you are incensed about misogyny in Hip Hop to the exclusion of other misogynistic genres (heavy metal, anyone?) then, yeah, you are a racist.

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This was a great episode! Particularly telling about white showrunner shooting down Shonda Rimes's critique of her work. Alot of white feminists think that any stride made that benefits white, middle-to-upper class women is a stride for ALL women, when that is not really the case at all.

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If you are incensed about misogyny in Hip Hop to the exclusion of other misogynistic genres (heavy metal, anyone?) then, yeah, you are a racist.

 

Okay. I'm going to go check out all the Heavy Metal songs on the current Billboard Hot 100 chart for misogynistic lyrics. Hmm. Maybe if I time travel back to 1988...

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Okay. I'm going to go check out all the Heavy Metal songs on the current Billboard Hot 100 chart for misogynistic lyrics. Hmm. Maybe if I time travel back to 1988...

 

Well, if you view sexism in the same way you view racism, I'm sure you'll make up an excuse for why THOSE lyrics aren't problematic.

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I sense a ploy to get someone with more credits to his name than an Asian-identity blog that updates every three weeks on the show.

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I didn't think Andrew would surpass the everyone is racist remark and ep. a few months back but this and yesterdays ep. have brought new levels of stupidity to the podcast.

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I think you could have an interesting discussion about some of the Earwolf regulars (Kroll, John Daly, Gelman, Besser, Tompkins) and what they're doing when they impersonate people of color or do racially themed comedy, but this episode was not that discussion.

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I wasn't familiar with the Kroll Show before this episode. It took me all of 30 seconds to find a racist depiction of Mexicans, El Chupacabre. The show might be funny, but how could this be interpreted as anything other than racist???

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I wasn't familiar with the Kroll Show before this episode. It took me all of 30 seconds to find a racist depiction of Mexicans, El Chupacabre. The show might be funny, but how could this be interpreted as anything other than racist???

 

What makes you assume El Chupacabra is Mexican?

 

What makes the character racist? Are there any specific Mexican or Latino stereotypes within the character? Or is it because any time you do a silly character with an accent that could be taken to represent a minority, it is automatically racist?

 

I'm not saying this to be contrarian. I am genuinely asking for clarification.

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What makes you assume El Chupacabra is Mexican?

 

What makes the character racist? Are there any specific Mexican or Latino stereotypes within the character? Or is it because any time you do a silly character with an accent that could be taken to represent a minority, it is automatically racist?

 

I'm not saying this to be contrarian. I am genuinely asking for clarification.

 

He's a caricature of a Latino radio host. Just like Fabrize Fabrice is a caricature of a Latino gay man. The first time Kroll is on the Nerdist podcast he talks about this.

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Like 3/5's of Spanish-language media in the United States is presented by blonde hispanophones whiter than I am.

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Like 3/5's of Spanish-language media in the United States is presented by blonde hispanophones whiter than I am.

 

What is the legacy of colonialism and adhering to European standards of beauty, Alex.

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Like 3/5's of Spanish-language media in the United States is presented by blonde hispanophones whiter than I am.

 

Did you even listen to the Nerdist podcast in which Kroll talks about the creation of his characters? Nope.

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Did you even listen to the Nerdist podcast in which Kroll talks about the creation of his characters? Nope.

Nah, did he make a big deal about ridiculing Indios?

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He's a caricature of a Latino radio host. Just like Fabrize Fabrice is a caricature of a Latino gay man. The first time Kroll is on the Nerdist podcast he talks about this.

 

I have not heard the nerdist podcast where he talks about it, but will download it now.

 

To me, the character was funny because it seemed like a very funny exaggeration of what Spanish-language radio DJs are really like. Whenever I have turned my radio to the Spanish-language station it seemed to be fairly similar to Kroll's character--constant, over-the-top, turning to the energy up to 11 announcing. But I am a white guy with middling Spanish who has only listened occasionally, so it might be that it is just playing to stereotypes based out of ignorance.

 

For me, the dividing line is usually specificity. When you take something specific from a culture, exaggerate it, and parody it, I find it funny. What racists do is take those exaggerations and try to paint the whole race, in broad strokes.

 

Still, I sometimes do wonder whether doing accents is just something that you should stay away from as a white person, because it will sound racist to people who don't know, and often racists will take that and interpret it in the worst way possible. And even if you go in with non-racist intentions, you can wind up giving people a reductionist stereotype view of that race.

 

To give another example, I remember hearing a white comedian on Comedy Bang Bang (a long time ago, back when it was still Comedy Death Ray) do what I thought was a very funny and spot-on impression of a certain type of mediocre black comedian. To me it was funny, and I thought it was obvious that he was making fun of a certain specific type of hack comedian that you see among black comics--no better or worse than the many different kinds of hack white comedians out there. But at the same time, racists probably listened and thought "Yeah, that's why black standup comedy sucks!" So I'm kind of conflicted on wheter it's a good idea to do stuff like that or not.

 

It helped that he later talked in his normal voice and the conversation they had kind of deconstructed the bit. And you would think among comedy nerds that no one would question that black comedians can be just as funny as white comedians, considering how many great and influential black standup comics there have been. But you never know...

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I seem to remember Friends and Seinfeld both getting heat for not having any diversity. Not as much as "Girls," but people definitely took note. Seinfeld kind of acknowledged it with the episode where George tries to find a black friend to prove he isn't a racist to Mr. Morgan. I think Friends just tossed a few non-white love interests into a few episodes.

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Nah, did he make a big deal about ridiculing Indios?

 

What do you know about indios, and what makes that racist, Hyde? In your 20+ years of tete-a -tetes with Boston racists, did they bring this subject up?

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I have not heard the nerdist podcast where he talks about it, but will download it now.

 

He's made two appearances on the show, the first time he is on is when he talks about this.

 

 

 

To me, the character was funny because it seemed like a very funny exaggeration of what Spanish-language radio DJs are really like. Whenever I have turned my radio to the Spanish-language station it seemed to be fairly similar to Kroll's character--constant, over-the-top, turning to the energy up to 11 announcing. But I am a white guy with middling Spanish who has only listened occasionally, so it might be that it is just playing to stereotypes based out of ignorance.

 

For me, the dividing line is usually specificity. When you take something specific from a culture, exaggerate it, and parody it, I find it funny. What racists do is take those exaggerations and try to paint the whole race, in broad strokes.

 

 

But that's an arbitrary and confusing dividing line. Racists also take specific things about a group of people and parody them. Whether it is the Asian man doing laundry or Black gangsta rapper or the Latino dayworker, those are all held up for ridicule by racists. And on the other token, Kroll does this character, Bobby Bottleservice, where he is pretty much making fun of a Jersey Shore-type of person. That character is being held up to his audience for ridicule and by extension is saying something about that whole Jersey Shore lifestyle. No different than any other run-of-the-mill racist who does the same for the three tropes I spoke of above. He says something in the Nerdist podcast about Fabrize being so sassy because he had to grow up, being gay, in a tough neighborhood. Then he says something like, "Someone like him has had a tough go of it in life," in reverent tones. Well, Mr. Kroll if you believe that to be true, how making fun of that person supposed to make things easier on them?

 

Still, I sometimes do wonder whether doing accents is just something that you should stay away from as a white person, because it will sound racist to people who don't know, and often racists will take that and interpret it in the worst way possible. And even if you go in with non-racist intentions, you can wind up giving people a reductionist stereotype view of that race.

 

To give another example, I remember hearing a white comedian on Comedy Bang Bang (a long time ago, back when it was still Comedy Death Ray) do what I thought was a very funny and spot-on impression of a certain type of mediocre black comedian. To me it was funny, and I thought it was obvious that he was making fun of a certain specific type of hack comedian that you see among black comics--no better or worse than the many different kinds of hack white comedians out there. But at the same time, racists probably listened and thought "Yeah, that's why black standup comedy sucks!" So I'm kind of conflicted on wheter it's a good idea to do stuff like that or not.

 

It helped that he later talked in his normal voice and the conversation they had kind of deconstructed the bit. And you would think among comedy nerds that no one would question that black comedians can be just as funny as white comedians, considering how many great and influential black standup comics there have been. But you never know...

 

 

See, this is totally racist. I wonder what stupid reasons they made up to excuse this? Whatever it was, those bullshit excuses didn't stick because I've been listening to Comedy Death Ray since about summer of 2011 and haven't heard a repeat performance. (But they still bring back Lil Gary, smh) And what is obvious to you, is not obvious to everyone. What is obvious to me is that many of the alt comics don't appreciate anything from black culture, its all up for ridicule -- from the music to the religion to the slang.

 

The only thing alt comics love from black people is Richard Pryor. Whenever someone asks them to list their favorite comedians, you will find they answer with 6 white guys, Richard Pryor, and no women. I don't even count that shit anymore. If you don't appreciate Robin Harris, Red Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Bernie Mac, Earthquake, or any of the other thousands of black comics who have come after, then you really don't appreciate Pryor at all. Its just some shit you say to make you seem like you're "in the know."

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You're lying to yourself if you think the Def Jam scene that produced Alonzo "Hamburger" Jones isn't a target rich environment for pillory.

 

Anyway, appreciation and ridicule aren't mutually exclusive. Unless Wayne's World and This Is Spinal Tap are both entirely more animus-driven than my interpretation suggests they're probably even complementary. Complex parody tends to be more effective when the audience knows something of its subject.

 

But, Mr. Torres, let's - for the moment - say that you are correct: That the use of any even vaguely disrespectful ethnic type in comedy has some talismanic potential to stir latent malice against its subjects. What, then, is the alternative? Reverence seldom inspires laughter. How are comedians to deal with inter-racial and inter-cultural interactions, or their perceptions of groups of people beyond their own?

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