View Full Version : Racial Humour, Funny or Not?

mad pierrot
06-03-06, 09:03
I was prompted to ask this question after I saw an act by Russel Peters, who successfully mocked every different racial category there is. It reminded me of Delirious, by Eddie Murphy. (Back when he was still funny.) Personally, this kind of humour doesn't bother me. It might be my background, growing up in a diverse part of Chicago. On the other hand, I know many people find this style of comedy very offensive.

What do you think?
Is there a line, and if so, how do you decide where to draw it?

Read an article about this here: http://www.therecord.com/links/links_06022116438.html

06-03-06, 09:22
Alot of people think lowly of me for it, but yes.

06-03-06, 09:23
Sometimes I don't know what to think about this. When I watched Jackie Chan in Rush Hour, I laughed pretty hard when Jackie Chan said something like "Whassup ma Nigga!" or something to that extent... but, seeing how it is so not PC, you might think it is best to probably leave it out of movies, tv shows. etc. When I was living near Detroit, I'd see black people call each other nigger and I was quite shocked. If another race had said that, it's fightin' words! I try my best to teach racial and religious tolerance but when I see something like that, it kinda undermines everything that I just taught. I'd very much like it if we could equally get along but I doubt this will rest for a long time.

I am sorry to kinda stray off your topic, but you opened up a can of worms.

mad pierrot
06-03-06, 09:25
Yes, have some.

06-03-06, 10:50
Of course it's okay--if it's a joke then there's no hostile intention behind it...

...it's the people who take these things seriously you've got to watch out for.

I guess that's what I like so much about South Park--sooner or later, they piss everybody off. It's fun to see how long someone you've introduced to the show can watch it--and enjoy it--untill one day they hit that person's sore spot and suddenly it's not funny any more because "Some things just shouldn't be joked about!"

Everything should be joked about.

nice gaijin
06-03-06, 11:12
I think that ideally, racial humour approaches the topic of our differences in a humorous light, and as such, should help us take a lighter look at life. There have been pioneers in racial humor that really took the whole issue and flipped it on its head. Richard Pryor readily comes to mind. One of the current comedians giving a relatively unique perspective on racial humour is probably Lisa Lampanelli, but I personally think she's funnier when she's not playing hopscotch on the racial hotbutton; she's pretty sharp.

I think that too many comedians base their whole careers around inflammatory racial stereotypes, and this is just playing to the audience with "surefire" material. Controversy is never boring, so stirring the pot will guarantee good numbers. The pioneers inspired a new generation of comedians, but it's no longer about making people laugh about things that make a lot of people uncomfortable and pushing the limits of what is acceptable. Racial humour is now taken for granted, and in my opinion, stagnating. Whether this is a good thing or not I'll leave to your discretion.

06-03-06, 11:30
theres nothing wrong with humour, the problem lies in the way people read into what a joke means,
when you should just "always look on the brightside of life"

06-03-06, 11:55
Well, no--if you always look on the bright side you won't see that mugger lurking in the shadows untill it's too late... :D

06-03-06, 18:57
Depends on what the humor is, specifically.

If it makes fun of the stereotypes themselves, then I've no qualms about it. The Daily Show oftentimes pokes fun at the common assumptions about different groups of people, but we know that they're (usually) not aimed at the people themselves.

On the other hand, humor that uses racial stereotypes themselves to get the joke across or that plain makes fun of a certain group is idiotic. I've seen waay too many jokes that use Chinese stereotypes as a means to get a laugh-- i.e. using broken English dialogues that promotes a stereotype without irony. (update: apparently Stephen Colbert, whom I had respected before, stooped to this level, too)

Of course it's okay--if it's a joke then there's no hostile intention behind it...

...it's the people who take these things seriously you've got to watch out for.

theres nothing wrong with humour, the problem lies in the way people read into what a joke means,

No. I disagree entirely. So you're saying that the offensiveness of a joke depends in large part on the how others view it? Just because something is a joke doesn't mean there's no hostile intention behind it, obviously. Some people thought it was pretty funny to make fun of the tsunami victims using derogatory slurs. (http://asianmediawatch.org/missjones/) Some people thought it was pretty funny to threaten to kill an Indian operator (http://asianmediawatch.org/starandbucwild/), using, again, derogatory insults in a prank call.

My conclusion is, it depends. There are times when racial humor becomes racist humor.

Also, I'd like to add a question to the OP's original post: How many of you folks, who are in the non-dominant group, have actually been the butt of a racial joke?

06-03-06, 19:36
Im not sure...No one in this world is always just "equal" because they are, for me, its what you do as an individual that effects my opinions or respect for you, but there still certain steriotypes that certain races hold. China and Japan are apparently the most racist countries in the world statistically apparently, with England coming at near the bottom of the list.
But with statistics like these;


You cannot always say that everybody is always equal?
Many people are racist towards muslims now days because of all the terorist propaganda from our governments, alot of people think its acceptable too, but i don't think so. I don't believe in rascism just as much as i don't think we are all equal, but i think its wrong to joke negatively about a particular race as a whole, because there are always many good and honest individuals in every race and they don't deserve to be steriotyped with the rest who aern't always are.
In Australia for example, alot of people view Aborigine's as bums who never work and always end up doing illegal things like killing each other or stealing, and its true that alot of crime in australia is committed by young Aborigines and that they have a very low employment level despite being always encouraged to get employed. There are also a great many Aborigine alchoholics because before we settled over there, they never had alchohol, and its well known that their bodys cannot handle it very well unlike us, who have been drinking alchohol for thousands of years- so you see alot of homeless alchoholic aborigines on the streets who get into such bad habits. You cannot ignore these things, but am i a racist for acknowledging them? I dont think so, because if i ever meet an Aborigine, i still treat that Aborigine just the same as any other person i meet no matter what their color because i know that despite these beliefs, no person is the same as the next and thus you should categorize everyone into the same group.
As for humor, well, its a tricky subject. I think wether a joke or peice of humor about a group of people is acceptable or not depends entirely on what that humor is and how it applies to those people. For example Erik mentioned the thing about black people calling each other "Niger" and people who aern't black calling people "Niger". If black people find it acceptable to call each other niger then they can't really complain if other races start calling them that too.

06-03-06, 19:53
I LOVE low-brow humor, racial or otherwise. I'm constantly poking fun at asians (which I am) and whatever race/religion/gender/sexuality/whatever of the people I'm friends with. This kind of humor is really on a person-to-person basis, though. I know friends who would get pretty offended by some of the stuff I say to other friends, so I don't use it. I think most of us have a pretty good idea of how far you can go before you'd get in trouble in a general sense.

That said, most people need to lighten up. Many people who engage in this type of humor are secure enough in themselves to know that making fun of a stereotype doesn't make you a racist. And if you can't laugh at your own race, you have no right to laugh at another's.

06-03-06, 19:59
Well, it depends. I like racial jokes, but only if no one will get offended.

09-03-06, 22:10
No. I disagree entirely. So you're saying that the offensiveness of a joke depends in large part on the how others view it? Just because something is a joke doesn't mean there's no hostile intention behind it, obviously.

You seems to have misunderstood what I was saying. When a person makes a joke, it's a joke, there's nothing even serious about it, let alone hostile. A person can make racist comments in the form of a joke--but if they mean the derogatory things they said, then they aren't joking.

Of course offensiveness depends on who views it, some people even find certain religions or ethnic groups offensive--whether or not you offend someone is purely a matter of that person's tastes. We're not talking about what is offensive, we're talking about what is morally acceptable. Some people find polka music offensive, that doesn't mean it's "not okay" to make polka music--just that some people will complain if you do.

Also, I'd like to add a question to the OP's original post: How many of you folks, who are in the non-dominant group, have actually been the butt of a racial joke?

I have. Being a half Mexican growing up in California I'd have to be deaf not to. I've also heard my share of Dutch, Irish and asian jokes too--which would effectively cover the rest of my gene pool.

I've learned to not take jokes seriously--after all that's the point.

09-03-06, 23:59
Also, I'd like to add a question to the OP's original post: How many of you folks, who are in the non-dominant group, have actually been the butt of a racial joke?

I'm a white male American, and I have been the butt of a few racial jokes. (this white boy can't play basketball) ^_^ But of the few that've been directed towards me, they've all been in good humour.:relief: :cool:

As far as nationality jokes go, I really don't see why people get heated up over them. One good friend of mine whom is Irish and I have a kind of inside joke where I'll mention the large amount of potato chips he has, or how much mashed potatoes he's got on his plate. "Are you saving up for something? Expecting a famine?" But I do it all for the sake of humour. Do I truly believe the Irish or any better or worse than the rest of us? Not really, unless you count Riverdance... :wave:

Roderick Spode
03-06-10, 18:31
When it comes to comedy acts like Lisa Lampanelli, and probably Russell Peters, we should consider the fact that they obviously use stooges. This is why they can get away with racial slurs. Particularly Lisa Lampanelli who could probably get away with the same things Richardson (Kramer) and Imus said, who both came under fire.

The stooges are those hired to sit in the front seat area, that the camera will focus on at times. So when Lampanelli, or perhaps Peters says something derogatory towards Black people, the camera will pan on a Black couple who are laughing hysterically. Of course we see them laughing, and it eases any possible racial tension.

Lampanelli is a bit too obvious with her stooges. I remember her making a racial joke concerning Asians, and the camera focused on an Asian female who's laugh was just too over-the-top (forced laugh). Being that racism towards Blacks is often seen as one of the most sensitive issues in the U.S., Lampanelli will also throw them various selling points (compliments) to counter (ease) the racial slurs. This is done by her claim to having a Black male fetish. So there's the constant penis size comparison which sells very well, and helps to ease any possible tension.

Cambrius (The Red)
04-06-10, 00:19
Acceptable to a degree - as long as there is no hateful intent.

05-06-10, 04:50
Strangely, in America what matters, if a racial joke is funny or not, is your political persuasion. Some will be attacked and vilified for racial funnies told, yet someone else could say the same joke, and receive laughs. There was a good example of the double standard this week when a comedian told a black joke about President Obama.

Is the joke funny? I guess it all depends on your politics.


Monday, May 31st, 2010 | Posted by Bernie
Hey, Did You Hear the One About Obama …
I’m always amused when my hyper-sensitive liberal friends cringe at a joke involving race. Cringing is how liberals show their racial manners. It’s how they say, “I’m a good white person. I don’t approve.”
Liberals are always showing how good they are when it comes to race. That’s why they support affirmative action programs. It’s their way of cleansing themselves of America’s historic racial guilt. “You see,” they announce to the world, “I’m not one of the bad white people. I’m not a racist like the many others who just happen to look like me.” And let’s not pretend that a lot of white folks don’t feel guilty simply because they’re white. After all, a lot of libs rightly or wrongly believe that black people see them as racist just because they’re white. So supporting affirmative action – as long as they themselves or their children aren’t hurt by it, of course -- or refusing to laugh at jokes with black folks in the punchline, is a way to assuage their white liberal guilt, which, as we all know, has no limits.
And this brings us to Bill Maher, the white liberal comedian who hates political correctness almost as much as he hates white people in bib overalls from Mississippi. Maher made a funny on HBO the other night about Barack Obama. But the joke wasn’t about Obama’s big ears or his addiction to teleprompters. No, the joke was about Barack Obama ... not being ... black enough. Here’s Maher’s joke:
“I thought when we elected a black president, we were going to get a black president. You know, this [BP oil spill] is where I want a real black president. I want him in a meeting with the BP CEOs, you know, where he lifts up his shirt where you can see the gun in his pants. That's -- (in black man voice) 'we've got a motherfu**ing problem here?' Shoot somebody in the foot.”
Obama playing the black thug. Not bad. I’m laughing. And guess who else was laughing? All the liberals in Maher’s Los Angeles audience. You see, when a liberal like Maher tells a joke like that, it’s hip, it’s cool. Only a hyper-sensitive nerd wouldn’t laugh.
Rule # 1: Liberals can say things that conservatives can’t.
Imagine if Rush Limbaugh had told the same joke. Imagine if Rush had told his listeners -- tongue in cheek -- that he was disappointed in Obama -- disappointed because our first black president wasn't acting black enough; disappointed because O didn't pull a weapon on whitey and pop a cap in his rear end. Imagine if he said, jokingly, of course, "That's what a real black man would do!" You think lefties would be laughing? You know why not? Because it’s not easy to laugh and scream “Racist!” at the same time? But Maher says the same thing and they laugh their liberal asses off.
Rule# 2: Liberals (like everyone else, only more so) have a great capacity for hypocrisy.
I don’t want Bill Maher or anyone else to stop telling jokes, and that includes good-natured jokes about black guys. It’s no longer 1952 so we don’t need “watermelon” or “darkie” jokes, but jokes about a sophisticated, well-educated black president playing a street thug with the white boys from BP – that, I think falls into the category of, “Come on, it’s funny – it’s okay to laugh!”
Liberals are smart, open-minded and have a wonderful sense of humor. I know this because my liberal friends keep telling me how smart, open-minded and funny they are. So lighten up, my left-wing Homies. Chill. If it’s funny when Bill Maher says it, then it’s funny when Rush says it. And when Limbaugh plays funny bits about Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, feel free to laugh -- because we all know you’d laugh if Bill Maher (or Jon Stewart) did the same bit. As Shecky Greene’s cousin Siggy Freud, the funnyman from Vienna once said, “Hey, sometimes a joke is just a joke.”
Rule # 3: Be good to your waiters and waitresses because they’ve been good to you. And drive carefully. Especially if you came to the show in a car.”

Roderick Spode
10-06-10, 16:01
Liberals are just as guilty as anyone else. The fact of the matter is, like it or not, racism sells. The U.S. liberal media (television, movies) in particular found methods to feed both anti-racists and racists at the same time. The 70's sitcom All In The Family is a perfect example. You had the hero stooge named Michael Stivic who represented the liberal anti-racist, who was basically the side-kick to the real hero Archie Bunker. The idea is that the show puts down, makes light of racism. At the same time you have the audience applause when Stivic would counter Bunker's racist remarks, those with racist sentiment are still entertained by Bunker's racist comments, jokes, antics. The audience learns new racist jokes, and can gloat over Meathead's sexist double-standards.

This is a common trick in the movies. An example is the Clint Eastwood movie where he plays a war vet in an Asian neighborhood in Michigan. He probably single-handed-ly introduced new (old and forgotten) derogatory slang words towards Asians for the younger breed of racists to repeat the next day at school, work, the bar, etc. And Clint still came out the White hero.

If a stand-up comic is confronted about their racist humor, it's noted to be a mockery of racism itself. And it's a way we can all laugh at ourselves. So when an Asian kid is taunted and harassed at school with jokes used by stand-up comics, we can all be assured that the kids doing the taunting are actually mocking themselves, and the kid being taunted is laughing (or should be) at himself, and the ticket sales, TV ratings, movie box office continues to thrive in good faith.

American Idiot
12-12-13, 10:36
what I think is funny is how absolutely nobody has voted "NO" on the poll question.....least not yet anyway.