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Episode 137 — Kroll Show

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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?

They're concerned primarily with Haitians and Brazilians. But a cursory look at the history of Latin America suggests the descendants of Conquistadors should be grouped differently on the sliding privilege scale of racial grievance relative to their indigenous former-subjects, no?

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But a cursory look at the history of Latin America...

 

Get back to me after you've had an in-depth look into the history of Latin America and another powwow with your racist Boston pals, and then we can discuss this fuller.

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This episode won't load for me and the download link is busted! D:!

Yyyyeah. While I have no insider knowledge of the situation, I could guess at a few reasons why this episode is now entitled "Double Standards In Comedy" rather than "Kroll Show"…

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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.

 

I'm not going to argue with everyone you say, but this is such bullshit. I have heard many white comics say that they love almost all those people you say, in addition to Chris Rock, Bill Cosby... and plenty of other people you mention. There are SO many black comics that are prominent in white culture. I grew up listening to my dad's Cosby and Red Foxx records, and Eddie Murphy's Raw album was, so popular among us white boys when I was in junior high. Not to mention the EXPLOSIVE popularity of Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle...

 

Pryor is part of the "holy trinity" with George Carlin and Lenny Bruce that all comics pretty much have to respect and say are great. But to act like white comics don't love or respect any other black comics is just bullshit. I mean, look at Comedy Central's top 100 list taht came out a few years ago--4 of the top 10 are black, with Richard Pryor at #1.

 

Now if you want to have that discussion, I do think black comics suffer from racism on some levels--for example, networks and studios often are not very supportive and don't get what they're trying to do, making it much more difficult for them to have success outside of standup. I do think that black comics suffer obstacles that white comics don't, but lack of respect as a standup is not one of them.

 

I still do want to get back to the question I posed before, though. Should accents just be considered off racist for comedians? If the answer is, "it's okay in certain situations," then what situations would you say are appropriate? This is the one thing I sincerely would like to hear you comment on, Shariq. You can ignore the other stuff I've said if you don't feel like replying, but I really want to hear your opinion on this.

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I'm not going to argue with everyone you say, but this is such bullshit. I have heard many white comics say that they love almost all those people you say, in addition to Chris Rock, Bill Cosby... and plenty of other people you mention. There are SO many black comics that are prominent in white culture. I grew up listening to my dad's Cosby and Red Foxx records, and Eddie Murphy's Raw album was, so popular among us white boys when I was in junior high. Not to mention the EXPLOSIVE popularity of Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle...

 

Pryor is part of the "holy trinity" with George Carlin and Lenny Bruce that all comics pretty much have to respect and say are great. But to act like white comics don't love or respect any other black comics is just bullshit. I mean, look at Comedy Central's top 100 list taht came out a few years ago--4 of the top 10 are black, with Richard Pryor at #1.

 

Now if you want to have that discussion, I do think black comics suffer from racism on some levels--for example, networks and studios often are not very supportive and don't get what they're trying to do, making it much more difficult for them to have success outside of standup. I do think that black comics suffer obstacles that white comics don't, but lack of respect as a standup is not one of them.

 

I still do want to get back to the question I posed before, though. Should accents just be considered off racist for comedians? If the answer is, "it's okay in certain situations," then what situations would you say are appropriate? This is the one thing I sincerely would like to hear you comment on, Shariq. You can ignore the other stuff I've said if you don't feel like replying, but I really want to hear your opinion on this.

 

 

Just because you have an appreciation of it, Kevin, doesn't mean that others do. The only white comic I've heard say -- nay lead off with a black comic making a big impact on him, was Paul Scheer. That's why I fuck with alot of this stuff he does. If there are others, please point me in their direction, I would like to support them as well.

 

As far as the accents, I have to say, regardless of your intent as a performer, it is a dicey area that you probably should avoid. There is absolutely no way that you are not going to sound just like someone else, let's say a racist asshole, who is maliciously mocking the same group. The problem with interracial caricatures is that, like up until the late 1960s, the caricatures were one way -- white mocking non-whites -- and used to support the myth of white superiority. So, you have several centuries of racial humor being used to harm. All that does not just go away overnight.

 

For that the interracial caricatures to work, you have to get a buy-in from the members of the community you are mocking. How do you get their buy-in? Look to Gary Owens, white comic that hosted Comicview for 2-3 years. He gets to make jokes that other white comics can't because he gets the benefit of the doubt that he's not being a racist asshole. He's married to a black woman, for one. He talks about the difficulties of being in an interracial relationship with honesty. Even though it is is his wife who has the money, power, and clout (her family is well off and everyone is Stanford educated), he knows that other white people (hell, and some black folks) will look on the outside and think that HE is the one that is raising her status. Talking about that stuff means that he "gets it."

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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.

 

Seeing how it (re)launched the careers of Martin Lawerence, Chris Rock, Chris Tucker, Bernie Mac, I don't see why it needs to be shit upon. If anything SNL during this same period was complete garbage and losing it lunch to In Living Color. Why not pick on the people who thought Molly Shannon was funny?

 

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.

 

That's an apple to oranges comparison. Those movies were made by members of those respective communities (slackers, rock n roll fans, white dudes) and lovingly pokes fun at them. The guy we're talking about wasn't a member of that Def Jam scene, doesn't do "black" rooms, and has no connection whatsoever with the community he is mocking.

 

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?

 

The alternative is that you get buy-in from members of the community before you start mocking them. But for that to happen, it is going to be a long process of mingling, befriending, and working alongside non-white people. It's going to mean acknowledging the privilege they receive in relation to the rest of the community. Talking about racism in an honest way. White comics who aren't going to do that are just continuing America's already long standing tradition of inter-cultural humor.

 

So, yeah, saying that you talk to the Indian guy about sports while he bags your groceries isn't going to count at all.

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Just because you have an appreciation of it, Kevin, doesn't mean that others do. The only white comic I've heard say -- nay lead off with a black comic making a big impact on him, was Paul Scheer. That's why I fuck with alot of this stuff he does. If there are others, please point me in their direction, I would like to support them as well.

 

I don't really remember that much specific comics' influences off the top of my head, and I wouldn't even know how to look it up. I know I've heard comics talk about Murphy, Cosby, Foxx, and Rock being great comedians on many occasions. Jon Daly's Cosby impression may sound like he's just trashing the guy, but he clearly knows Bill Cosby's routines very well so I imagine he must have listened to a lot of Bill Cosby as a kid. Like I said, I think the Comedy Central top 100 comedians list speaks volumes. I was actually surprised that black comedians scored as high as they did, in fact. I think it's safe to say that any comedian who placed in the Comedy Central list would have to have a lot of white admirers, especially the ones in the top 10.

 

I do think there is a lot to be made fun of in the Def Comedy Jam scene, just like any other scene. I enjoyed the specificity and attention to detail in the one I mentioned earlier, but I will concede that it would have been less problematic coming from a black comic. That would make it more likely people assume he is making fun of a certain segment of the black comedy scene, rather than the black comedy scene overall.

 

On a related note, how do you feel about white comics doing impressions of specific black people? For the sake of this discussion, let's assume they aren't wearing blackface, and focusing their impression on that specific person without using stereotypes of his or her race.

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They didn't really talk about Kroll Show a whole lot, but that's alright. I've never actually seen that show, not sure what it's on, but it sounds like it could be funny.

 

Here's the thing, though--off the top of my head I can name a bunch of shows with an all-white main cast. Once Upon a Time, How I Met Your Mother, Bunheads, Raising Hope, The Middle, Rules of Engagement, etc.

 

And then there are shows like The Big Bang Theory, which literally has one character of color, and everybody forgets about him because he has no development past being an Indian stereotype.

 

So, yes, criticize specific instances of racism or marginalization, that's fine, but targeting one show, like Girls, instead of all these other shows, is patently ridiculous. It definitely makes me feel like the critics have an ulterior motive.

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