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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The words we use » » Question about Stereotypes (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

marc_carrion
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Hi, I know stereotyping is wrong, no question there, but it's a useful tool for presentational purposes. There are a common set of ideas that most of your audience can relate or understand so it can be used to build rapport. My question is about butt of the joke stereotypes. In Spain we have a little town called Lepe. Their citizens are the butt of the joke as a dumb people. For instance, it's is said that they put blocks of ice on top of their TV sets in order to freeze the image. That type of jokes. I was wondering what is the same population in the US. And does it change by State, or particular cities? It seems that here in Virginia it may be people from West Virginia. They invented the toothbrush, right? if it had been invented anywhere else it would had been called teethbrush. But that may not work for people in Texas, they may not know the reputation of the people in West Virginia (all my love to them, I don't believe anything from these jokes)

Your thoughts? who would you use as the butt of the joke in the US, or in your particular State/City?

Thanks!!

Marc
WitchDocChris
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I would not use any particular group as the butt of a joke, as that's just a step away from bullying and the pay off isn't worth it in my mind.

I write jokes with the concept of "never punch down" in mind.
Christopher
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marc_carrion
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Hi Christopher, thanks for the advise. I understand your point, but as I said, I still think is a valid tool for humor. I think there is a big gap between this and bullying, not just a step a way, and I think it can be done all in a humorous way and not insulting. With that in mind, and knowing that will be used wisely and not in an offensive way, do you have any suggestions on the original question?

Thanks,

Marc
danaruns
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I think this is a terrible idea. A big rule is to never make fun of your audience. Or denigrate them. Whether or not there are any members of your target group in the audience, this just makes you kind of a crappy person. And at best it's cheap humor, which just says that you can't do any better. You even begin your post by saying that stereotyping is wrong, and then you say you're going to do it anyway. Yeah, you know it's a bad idea, you're just trying to rationalize it because you're the type of person who wants to denigrate a group of people for "comedy."

Boy, I would stay so far away from this king of thing. But hey, you go ahead. It will just make the rest of us look better.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
marc_carrion
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I don't think you have understood the main idea here. Stereotyping is bad, agreed, there is no discussion here.

BUT IT IS a tool that can be used in an acceptable way. See how many FAMOUS and SUCCESSFUL comedians and magicians use it... Even on a triumph when talking about a drunk person that shuffles the cards face up and face down... do we make fun of drunk people? do we trivialize alcoholism? There is a famous plot in card magic about cannibalism, is it promoting it? is it saying it is ok? Questions about did you go to public school? don't worry I'll do it slower... I KNOW the line between a little bit of fun in an entertaining environment versus bullying, versus targeting someone in the audience. That is a discussion that can be had, but it's not what I'm asking... go have this discussion with Jerry Seinfield or Chris Rock and you may change your mind.. are they 'crappy' people? maybe, but people pay to go see them perform. Is it cheap humor? some of it maybe, some of it may be more sophisticated.

So the question stands... the idea of my plot is NOT making fun of the targeted area. I'll tell the story of someone in that area. Who will come up as dumb and stupid at the beginning of the story, and the end will turn out to be wiser than anyone else in a turn of the story. So, if anything I will prove that Stereotyping him as stupid was wrong and he was smarter than anyone in the audience (including the magician, who does not understand how the trick worked when it was impossible, but the person from that area knew)

So, please restraint from commenting about how bad is to stereotype, I get it, but I know my presentation will play well... I just need the recommendation on those areas.

Marc
WitchDocChris
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Sorry, I avoid stereotypes for the reasons you are dismissing as irrelevant. I can't think of any I would recommend a professional entertainer use without risking insulting people for no reason.

And just to be clear, by definition, stereotypes are targeted to one thing. They are the foundation of prejudice.
Christopher
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marc_carrion
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Thanks Christopher, I understand and respect your position, but I don't think you are understanding me... who said that I dismiss them? not only dismiss them, but dismiss them with reasons that I deem irrelevant? I never said that, I don't dismiss them, I SAID STEREOTYPING IS WRONG... BUT.. let's use another word... GENERALIZATIONS... is that a better word? WE ALL USE GENERALIZATIONS... you too... when you meet a dog, you assume is a dog, your previous experiences with other dogs will dictate your behavior when meeting a new dog. Some people are scared, some people are not... it's impossible for human nature to start with a tabula rasa, your experiences guide your behavior. If you know a thousand dogs, you experience is broader, if you only have meet one dog, that experience will carry a lot of weight. If I only meet one Jake in my life, and he was an ***, sorry for the next Jake I meet, but he will have bad start...but I'm a person, I have free will, and I know that I can not let my behavior be guided by a bad previous experience, so I try to start with the tabula rasa, but again, GENERALIZATIONS are in human nature, and are responsible for evolution of human race (the big cat with huge teeth is bad, let's hide... well... maybe not all big cats with huge teeth were bad, but we did not give them the chance to prove it, right? wrong? maybe, but part of our nature)

So, that said, and again, understanding your position 100% and agreeing with it 99%, I don't think you have even read the plot I outlined above, because at the end, the stereotype is proven wrong, and our anti-hero proven right... (oh... what a a concept... the anti-hero, a character that exists in all the literature of all countries... someone that is based in stereotypes, and success in spite of them...)
Scott Horn
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Marc, I don't think you are asking a "clear" question. You started by asking whether (and what) stereotypes exist in the US, AND if anyone would use stereotypes as the object of a joke.

You got your response... "Yes" there certainly are stereotypes in the US, and "yes" they do vary by region. Some are perfectly innocent (i.e. preferences of BBQ by region), but many are small minded bigotry.....(i.e. intelligence, speech style, physical attributes or appearances, etc.) I doubt anyone here is going to put any of these in writing.... I certainly wouldn't, although I have heard that all Spaniards ......

You rephrased your question to "Generalizations." But what is the point? The way you set this whole conversion up, was about using defamatory perceptions in a line of patter, either as they exist, or as a "twist of fate" to expose the flaw or restore the anti-hero.

The US has become (right, wrong, or indifferently) VERY conscious of the perceived, emotional impact of words on others (particularly minorities). I think the general opinion I have seen here, and agree with, is that "in the US, at this time, any use of stereotypes that are in any way seen in the popular culture as "disrespectful" would not yield good results to an "entertainer," even if you "intend" a positive message at the conclusion.

... just my opinion
danaruns
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Marc, now you've completely changed the premise. You began with:

Quote:
My question is about butt of the joke stereotypes. In Spain we have a little town called Lepe. Their citizens are the butt of the joke as a dumb people. ... It seems that here in Virginia it may be people from West Virginia. They invented the toothbrush, right? if it had been invented anywhere else it would had been called teethbrush. ...who would you use as the butt of the joke in the US, or in your particular State/City?


That's what you were asking. And that is terrible, IMHO.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
marc_carrion
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Hi Scott and Dana, thanks for your answers, I understand now that my question was misunderstood... yes, Dana, that's what I was asking, but NO, I was not going to make jokes about them. I should had been more clear, I did not explain the presentation originally and that was my mistake. I am not planning to make the subject the butt of the joke, but I want to use the subject that is usually the butt of the joke.

In the UK they had this great show called Fawlty Towers, the waiter was from Barcelona, and the owner pointed that out to explain why he was incompetent, thus implying that everyone in Barcelona was incompetent. As I am from Barcelona, I found it hillarious. Let me use that example.

I introduce the concept of gambling, card cheats, etc... and introduce the best card cheat from Barcelona [the implication here, without saying it, is that is probably the worst card cheat], I explain his techniques [which are absurd, not really revealing any methods like stacking, false dealing or false shuffling,...] and follow his directions on how to cheat, everyone is convinced that the trick will not work [because the instructions won't make sense] and still, the magic effect happens [cutting mates, finding four of a kinds, and finally showing that the whole deck is back in order].

Without saying it, the assumption is that the card cheat was going to be bad, but proven to fool all of us

So, yes, my question is about what is that 'subject', but NO, I'm not making him the butt of the joke, I use that stereotype against the spectator assumptions.

I hope this clarifies it now, and hope someone can point me in the right direction.

Thanks,

Marc
Scott Horn
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Marc,

The plot of a bumbling card cheat is nothing new (i.e. Magician in trouble). You can work that story line with, or without, a preconceived notion (stereotype) that they are incompetent because of their "background." A challenge to your approach would be (1) characterizing the stereotype you want to highlight, i.e. clumsy, lacking dexterity, unintelligent, etc. and then (2) where, and to what group of people, that stereotype exists.... I don't know of any stereotype for general incompetence. And of course (3) how do you present it in a way that is not offensive to your audience.

One point to bear in mind for the US market... Im not going to debate the right / wrong of this thinking, but right now, people in the US do not just take offense when they are the target of a "negative" comment. In a room of 100, 1 person may be offended even when they are not in the class being stereotyped, and that alone can end a performance, and pretty much kill any chance for a call back.
marc_carrion
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Thanks Scott, that's very helpful advice.

Marc
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Stereotypes - You can either embrace them or shatter them. I chose to shatter them.
Swing hard, swing often, and we'll catch ya on the Flip-Side!
John Pyka
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