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February 06, 2013

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Roadsidephil

I thought the controversy over this commercial was dumb. They weren't portraying Jamaicans in a negative light in any way. But some people will react negatively to any reference to race, good or bad, especially if it's coming out of the mouth of a white guy.

Would there have been any controversy if that Jamaican accent came out of an Asian guy's mouth?

I ran into this in December at a standup gig in Boise, ID. The crowd was about 2/3 white, 1/3 black. The tables directly in front of the stage were open and there was a group of black women sitting at a back table. They had arrived early just to secure the table in the back of the room.

About halfway through my set I said, "Ladies, these tables up front are open and it's 2012. Don't you know you don't have to sit back there anymore?"

To me that meant, "Pay attention to your history and how you're presenting yourself to the world." They didn't hear that at all. They walked and the rest of the audience was cold as ice for the last half of my set after what began as one of the best shows of the week.

So I think people are too quick to jump on the racist wagon (man there's a joke in there somewhere...) without really considering the message being communicated.

David Hooper

I have worked the comedy side of things a little, in both a writing and label perspective. Jokes related to race and culture can be funny, but there is definitely a double-standard or something where a message from one guy won't land like the same message from somebody else.

I was at a club last year with a black comic on stage. He was talking about "black people time" and how blacks and whites look at the definition of "on time." Just then a group of black women came in. Perfect timing for him to call them out, which he did. Everybody laughed, including them, as they sat down.

Would that have worked with a white guy on stage? Probably not. Should it have? I don't know.

If a comic is doing his job, he is stretching the bounds of what is acceptable. If you are a person looking for something safe, you probably shouldn't be at a comedy club.

Most comics that I have dealt with are great observers, much like the songwriters I know. I think you're doing a good job with both stretching the boundaries and observing, so keep it up!

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