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Doug Higley
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I wrote this for the Ventriloquist thread but about 5 people a month seem to look there Smile so I'll postulate the same here...

I would like this to be a fairly serious discussion if it's still possible here on the Café. (Just a request.)

Growing up in the 50's in the fabulous melting pot of a New York neighborhood, one learned to appreciate racial and ethnic humor as more a celebration than anything else.

The biggest laughs were always from the 'sounding' on the other guy's race or background. It was equal opportunity territory. Of course these days you can't do that unless you are Rickles who always picks that one black guy out of his audience or that one Japanese tourist.

But underneath, you know this stuff is still funny. I guarantee George Wallace would have you in the hospital with his riff on black jokes...but we can't do it really anymore as vents because even if it's funny there will be one in the crowd who can find it offensive by rote and kneejerk even if it's mild...BUT what is the line?

Does anybody attempt it? Using stereotypes in humor (besides for the usual targets of the 21st century, Red Necks.)

For example: Do Mexican Witches ride Leaf Blowers? Where do all those pictures go taken by Japanese Tourists? Do all Polish musicians start with Accordians?

Can these 'themes' be developed?

Now I just made those up as the mildest form of what I'm asking.

Or is just the mention of a specific race or ethnicity now completely taboo in your mind?

I am NOT talking of using offensive language or obviously derogetory terms or those terms frowned on by everybody (except maybe Michael Richards and Snoop Dog, but they are not funny anyway)

Example of the next step up: A Black guy goes into a bar with a Parrot on his head, the bartender say's "Where did you get that?" And the Parrot say's "Africa...there's milions of 'em over there!"

That joke told to me by Wallace as: A White guy goes into a bar with a Parrot on his head, the bartender says "Where did you get that?" and the Parrot say's Ireland there's millions of 'em over there!"

Certainly a mild use of racial identification in either version. Is one Racist and the other not? Or is it just silly to even think so?

In talking with Wallace he said that joke if told by a black person would have the Irish connotation and if told by a white guy, use the black connotation....still the same joke but a slight edge is added by speaking of other than the type you personally represent.

So these days of Political Correctness taken to ridiculous hieghts of stupidiy and thermonuclear sensitivity is ethnicity dead or in your opinion can it be 'fudged' and alluded to without a firestorm of ruffled indignation.

Those of us who write routines should think of these things, not to be careful of what not to use or do but to be aware of how far we can go to make it better and in the end get laughs from the widest portion of our audience.

What do you think?
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Gordyboy
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These days I think it's taboo. Seems that the only people who can get away with it are people who joke about their own ethnicity. I have a mexican friend who tells me all the best mexican jokes.

I guess there's the rare person who can get away with it because of their personality and delivery, but it wouldn't work for me.
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Magic Rob
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My opinion regarding this type of ethnic humor is that "it depends". First, it depends on the venue. Are you playing for adults in a comedy club, or is this a children's show? Secondly, I think it depends on your individual style. Is the ethnic joke going to come across as a funny tru-ism about a culture, or could it be construed as seriously racist remark. I agree with Gordyboy, if you're going to do this, it's probably safest to make fun of your own race. I would even say that if a performer is going to poke fun at one race, he should pick on several races. That way he is not singling any one out. So much about the joke depends on the delivery. Does it seem like it's intended to hurt someone, or just to have fun.

One must use sensitivity when judging whether to use this type of humor. Some things are just too taboo to touch. I enjoy Michael Richards (aka, Kramer of Seifeld fame) and think he's a very funny comic. He used the "N" word in what I personally feel was was nothing more than an attempt to make tough audience laugh. His career came to a screeching halt because it was just too taboo for a white male to get up in front of an audience and use that term. Some African-Americans use the "N" word when they refer casually to friends, but a white person had better never say it. Before one thinks that this is unfair, try to relate. Up until the 60's (and even in some parts today), the "N" word was used by whites to keep African Americans feeling low and oppressed. When one black uses the word to refer to another black, by making light of it he's taking away it's power to hurt. I'm not implying you want to use the "N" word in your show. I'm pointing out that there are some ethnic jokes that can hit too close to home coming from a white male.

With all of the other topics there are to have fun with, I generally steer clear of ethnic humor. If it fits your style and you can walk the line between funny and offensive, go for it. It can be risky though, so be willing to accept the consequences if you go too far. It could cost you clients...
Josh Riel
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Odd that the comedy section is where one must go for hope of serious thoughtful debate.

There are certain words I would typically stay away from, but no subject. But the key is the situation.

I don't mean that I wouldn't tell a "Black" joke in a group of black people, I would (And you can insert any race religion or thing you want), otherwise I am a hypocrite, or just a coward. Each situation will come with natural boundaries for those who have enough sense to see them.

I.E.: Around a bunch of religious old ladies, I would need some restraint. Merely a show of respect.

Most people are too concerned with, not so much "Political Correctness" as fear. A justified fear unfortunately, any innocuous thing said can be corrupted and ruin careers.

Freedom of speech! Although not necessarily freedom from a butt whoopin'.
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Doug Higley
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My friend Josh says: "I.E.: Around a bunch of religious old ladies, I would need some restraint. Merely a show of respect."

Now there I would be unincorigible...some of my best audiences were little old ladies whipped up by the entertainment of it all...haha. I'd be tempted to go over the line with that bunch. haha. Definately.

The ruining career thing I find really something. I think many times it's the reaction of the act itself that draws the bigger hits. Allowing the slightest credibility to any charges doesn't help and just gives power to the busy body. I would def try to turn tables before I bowed in supplication to that crap. I would think I'd also have more backing from those fed up with all the race baiting that goes on based on nonsense. If it's worthy that's one thing but some lately are ridiculous. Yeah I said it so what...here's another one! .......insert here.....
:)
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Josh Riel
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I did not mean that it was a good thing careers were ruined. Far from it.

Sometimes old ladies can be nasty. She's not "nasty" but my wife's grandma, is more fun when it comes to joking around than most. I will always remember the first time she told me I was full of ****. 80 and profane. I love it.

But if I don't know them...
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Doug Higley
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I know you didn't mean a good thing. Pure evil that a slip of the tongue or a brain fart can kill lifes work but then the planet is made up of hypocraps.
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Josh Riel
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I was thinking of Kramer's blow up (I don't know/care what his real name is) and Dave Chappelle's Different races reaction to different music".


Here's the difference.

Kramer was doing a comedy show and got irritated because of a group of people who wouldn't shut up. Don't get me wrong, I know (And have dated) many white women who wouldn't shut up), this group happened to be black.
He attempted ethnic "comedy" in a moment of heated passion. That was stupid, not funny. If one were to try that, they would meat with censure. I don't think that a moment of anger and stupidity should condemn one utterly.... but anyway.

Dave Chappelle did a skit, a skit based entirely on ethnic stereotyping. Reactions different races had to different music... It was funny. Strictly speaking: very racist (Using the common vernacular).

Ever see his skit on the "Black, White Supremacist"? Funny as hell.

Has anyone ever watched that horrible woman comedian? She picks individuals out and as black, Mexican, gay, etc. and continued by insulting the classification... I don't like it, but it's comedy.

Carlos Mencia, did a stand up show where he just blasted all Arabs, every one, for being terrorists and murderers as a part of his act (Useing obvious lies as evidence). Not trying to be a comedian, just threateningly "Patriotic". I turned it off because it was virulent bile.. And the only way he could have gotten away with it is because he's always talking about stereotypes, and it's O.K. to slam without remorse white folk, and Arabs now.

Just like it used to be O.K. for white people to make satirical portrayals of the Chinese person, or the Black person. Remember the cartoons portraying a black man? Those gigantic white lips? All comedy.

I think at this time in history, you take a risk (Assuming you are a white man), a big risk, when you speak in any but the most endearing way of anyone, Excepting Arabs and other White's.

I truly believe for any hope for the future of freedom of expression we have to at least agree, even if we do not choose to exercise it, that everything is O.K., or nothing is.

We, not just Americans, Civilized society as a whole are getting weak and hypocritical. Our ease of life has atrophied our minds.....


Alas.
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Destiny
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Quote:
Civilized society as a whole are getting weak and hypocritical. Our ease of life has atrophied our minds.....


100% correct (in my opinion - so that may not,in fact, be a fact - by definition)

I never found humor which degraded other races funny, but now few people dare joke about even cultural or ethnic differences - and that is stupid. I would let people joke about or say anything - better to know who your enemies are.

Remember the importance that used to be attached to 'I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it' (failing memory - I'm paraphrasing.)

Political correctness breeds hypocrisy - saying one thing politely and meaning something completely different.

It's the only thing I find admirable about Fred Phelps, the God Hates Fags crazy. I think every word that comes out of his mouth is wrong and I don't believe he should be allowed his tasteless demonstrations at the funerals of gays and veterans but I do admire that he has the guts to say what he thinks and what he believes.

These days even when a comic 'apparently' says something outrageous, unscripted and true to their core, it usually has a sense of being finessed to the nth degree to ensure it provokes comment but not controversy - get attention, but not too much. That's probably why comedy is so unsatisfying these days - things are only really funny when there's a note of truth.

Destiny
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Interesting thread...

Here is something I mentioned to some friends a few weeks ago. About 12 of us met at Golden Corral BUFFET for dinner. We were waiting for a few stragglers and as people walked by us leaving a thought popped in my head. It would be sort of funny as a person was walking past me to leave, if I asked them if they left any food for us. Now if the person was thin to average size it would be funny...HOWEVER, if the person was quite large, fat, obese, etc...and I said it with the exact same inflection...it would be rude, uncalled for, mean, etc. Upon asking my friends, sure enough, every single one of them laughed at the first scenario, but did not like the second scenario.

Now why would it be that way? It was funny for a thin person...and I wasn't eluding to the persons weight anyways...was only eluding to the fact that it as an all you can eat place.

Just an interesting observation.


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MichaelKent
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Quote:
On 2007-12-22 11:50, Living Illusions wrote:
Interesting thread...

Here is something I mentioned to some friends a few weeks ago. About 12 of us met at Golden Corral BUFFET for dinner. We were waiting for a few stragglers and as people walked by us leaving a thought popped in my head. It would be sort of funny as a person was walking past me to leave, if I asked them if they left any food for us. Now if the person was thin to average size it would be funny...HOWEVER, if the person was quite large, fat, obese, etc...and I said it with the exact same inflection...it would be rude, uncalled for, mean, etc. Upon asking my friends, sure enough, every single one of them laughed at the first scenario, but did not like the second scenario.

Now why would it be that way? It was funny for a thin person...and I wasn't eluding to the persons weight anyways...was only eluding to the fact that it as an all you can eat place.

Just an interesting observation.


Kevin


Because different people have different sensitivities. I'm sure you'd be offended by some things that might not offend other people. The golden rule - treat others as you would like to be treated. This includes being considerate of people's feelings. People often complain that the world is getting too "P.C." Many of those people are the same ones that wish they could make statements that would potential hurt the feelings of many in the audience.

I do a show that is very edgy and wry. I have two jokes in my show that poke fun at the expense of others. But I'm very careful to set up with those people in the beginning to let them know that it's all part of the show and in reality, I think they're swell.
Bad to the Balloon
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Being your standard issue white dude, I have been accused of racism twice in my life.

Once while working in a restaurant I offended a table of people darker than I. Apparently, filling a child's request for a monkey was wrong. The kid asked for one. My manager asked me to make it right, So I went back to the table. Asked the child again what he would like .... he asked for a reindeer, I whipped out a brown balloon and this set off the woman next to me who said "don't you have any other balloons besides brown?". I asked her "what color are your reindeers? " Stupid people come in all colors.

The next one just happened this last week. While driving thru my child's school parking lot I saw one of the teachers I knew at the back of a car. He is tall, blonde and pale skinned. As I drove by I said "You really shouldn't be dealing on school grounds" He made a joke about crack, we laughed. Next to him was another teacher who is Hispanic. I nodded that she was there, she said nothing to me. The next day this lady (a loose term indeed) in the hall. She proceeds to tell me my comments about dealing crack offended her and that she is a minority. I was shocked at the statement she made. She then started to lecture me on political correctness, that was when I threw my hands up in the air and walked away from her.

Funny how people can say what ever they like if they are a radio DJ, but the freedom of speech is now curtailed by average people. My comments were a hack line at best, and they were not even directed at the woman. So, What would you do? I thought about making a stand about this cause this woman is a BEEECH to everyone at the school, UNLESS your are hispanic. My wife is a teacher at this school too.
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Rupert Bair
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Jerry Sadowitz is one of the few still doing great offense material in this country. I don't think any new comer will ever be able to do racial matieral ever again...

M:C
MichaelKent
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I agree. If you're going to do offensive material, you have to be willing to pay the enormous price. Sadowitz has made this concession time and time again. If you want to do this type of material, you're not going to be a commercial entertainer as many of us wish to be -- Sadowitz knows this and doesn't want to be a commercial entertainer, so it works for him. He's paid the price time and time again for his art.
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I think that society as a whole is starting to get tired of Political Correctness. There are newer comedians that are able to get away with racial humor...Ralphie May is one that comes to mind. Of course, we're not talking about a comedian for corporate events, but certainly in the clubs. I think all that matters is like-ability! If your audience likes you, you can push the envelope!

Brian
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What I find most offensive is comedy that is not funny. If you are out in comedy clubs then you are still going to see comics pushing the edge and offending people. Or as I have noticed people thinking they should be offended. It’s these people that I hate…I know hat is a strong word, but I can’t think of a stronger one at the moment.

I did a line about Mormons in a show…(the line: after doing an effect with a beer, I ask how many drink beer…less then half of the folks raised their hands, so I said “what? Is this some kind of meeting?…Wait. You aren’t Mormons are you? “cause I saw some bikes outside.”)

After my show a man came up to me and said, “I enjoyed your show, but you shouldn’t do the Mormon joke.

I said, “OH, are you Mormon?”
“No” he said
I paused…
“Is some one in your family Mormon?”
“No he said
I looked his chubby pious face, with a slight condescending face and said
Well, probably best if you just steer clear of my shows in the future.” And I walked away.


Oh, and off the top of my head Lisa Lampanelli and gilbert gottfried are folks no too worried about offending people.
MichaelKent
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Quote:
On 2008-01-21 09:14, tctahoe wrote:
Oh, and off the top of my head Lisa Lampanelli and gilbert gottfried are folks no too worried about offending people.


True, TC, but for every Gottfried and Lampanelli there are a thousand comics who could never get away with it.
Doug Higley
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Hey MIke! Smile


...and most of those 'comics' shouldn't.
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ERIC
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Being this started off about a Vent thread, I just have one person in mind..Jeff Dunham... He's great. He picks on blacks with his Pimp Manager "P Daddy" Arabs with "Achmed" Mexicans with his "Jalapeno ...ON A STEEK" and even Old white men with "Walter" And he gets a standing ovation EVERY TIME!

Let's face it, It's all in the delivery.

People need to lighten up.
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Just a correction - Jeff "manager" character is Sweet Daddy D
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