Ethnic Humor in Multiethnic America by David Gillota

By David Gillota

When wielded via the white majority, ethnic humor can be utilized to ridicule and demean marginalized teams. within the arms of ethnic minorities themselves, ethnic humor can paintings as a website of group development and resistance. In approximately all circumstances, notwithstanding, ethnic humor can function a window in which to check the complexities of yankee race family members. In Ethnic Humor in Multiethnic America, David Gillota explores the ways that modern comedian works either replicate and perform nationwide conversations approximately race and ethnicity.

Gillota investigates the style within which quite a few humorists reply to multiculturalism and the expanding variety of the yank inhabitants. instead of one or ethnic teams at a time—as is usual scholarly practice—the ebook specializes in the interaction among humorists from diversified ethnic groups. whereas a few comedian texts undertaking a fable international during which assorted ethnic characters coexist in a hardly ever disputed concord, others really have interaction with the complexities and contradictions of multiethnic America.

The first bankruptcy specializes in African American comedy with a dialogue of such humorists as Paul Mooney and Chris Rock, who are inclined to strengthen a black/white imaginative and prescient of yank race family. This process is contrasted to the comedy of Dave Chappelle, who seems to be past black and white and makes use of his humor to put blackness inside of a much broader multiethnic context.

Chapter 2 concentrates totally on the Jewish humorists Sarah Silverman, Larry David, and Sacha Baron Cohen—three artists who use their personas to discover the bizarre place of up to date Jews who exist in a center house among white and other.

In bankruptcy three, Gillota discusses varied funny buildings of whiteness, from an in depth research of South Park to “Blue Collar Comedy” and the weblog Stuff White humans Like.

Chapter four is targeted at the demeanour during which lively children’s movie and the community state of affairs comedy usually venture simplified and harmonious visions of variety. by contrast, bankruptcy five considers what percentage contemporary works, akin to Harold and Kumar visit White Castle and the Showtime sequence Weeds, have interaction with variety in additional advanced and effective ways.

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In this model, each ethnic group has its own comedians and its own ethnic stereotypes to either overturn or self-deprecatingly reinforce. People of other ethnicities are free to watch as well, but it is understood that the comedy is not for them and that they will not fully “get” it. ”14 This comic landscape further suggests that not only do many African Americans police their ethnic boundaries with anxiety but that they do so in ways that serve as a model for other ethnic groups. The influence of African American humor on the humor of other ethnic affiliations is in line with the ways that race in America is traditionally constructed.

Pryor uses this scenario to launch into an extended critique of white culture, in which he skillfully impersonates a series of nervous, uptight, and decidedly unhip white characters and contrasts them with looser, more relaxed, and cooler African American voices. Pryor, for example, impersonates a black man walking through the woods who, thanks to his natural rhythm, dodges a poisonous snake. An oblivious white man on a similar hike is not so attuned to Mother Nature and inevitably gets bitten.

Interestingly, however, Rock refuses to see whiteness in a similarly complex way. In Bigger and Blacker (1999), Rock argues against Louis Farrakhan’s antiSemitic comments: “I never been in a barbershop and heard a bunch of brothers talking about Jews. Black people don’t hate Jews. Black people hate white people! We don’t got time to dice white people up into little groups. I hate everybody. I don’t care if you just got here. ”28 This routine follows the same impulse, albeit from a different direction, as Mooney’s use of the word “nigger” to apply to various ethnic groups.

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