This paper seeks to discuss some of the topics that stand up comedy has successfully communicated to its viewers and lovers. Comedy is a wide field comprising of any humorous communication whose intentions is to engross by generating laughter. This is mostly through different mediums like film, television, and stand-up comedy. Through comedy, diverse information can be relayed to its lovers and viewers. The range of topics that stand-up comedy varies from politics to race to sexuality to drugs to religion. Education, gender, war, love, death, and language form the basis through which stand-up comedians relay their information. Stand- up comedy, on the other hand, is a comedic form of art in which a comedian executes his actions in front of a live audience communicating directly to them. These performances are filmed for later public viewing through television, internet, and DVD.
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In standup comedy, the performers recite a fast-paced progression of humorous stories, one –liners, and short jokes, which comprise a monologue or act. They can make use of props, magic tricks, or music in the performances to boost their actions. In this paper, we will focus on the subject of racism, which has been a significant ground for most stand-up comedians in the entertainment field. Racism is a sensitive issue that most people would rather not talk about, as one can never be sure of the other party’s opinion on the issue. Few people will discuss this area openly due to its sensitivity in the world and only stand-up comics can best discuss this issue. People may find their way of handling the subject humorous and hence take no offence to the comic. Several stand-up comics have based their performances on the topic of racism and in a way have managed to convey messages about the subject (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster 67).
Racism refers to the doctrine or belief that natural differences among the various human races determine individual or cultural achievement. Mostly these beliefs originate from the notion that a person’s own race is superior and has the authority to rule others. The issue of racism has been an all time issue since the existence of man and different people has varied opinions concerning the matter. Racism increases discrimination in the different aspects of life like education, work, travel, residence, religion, etc. this is where people will discriminate other people who are not of the same race in workplaces, schools and institutions of education, travelling areas, places of stay, and many other areas. The issue of racism was and still is rampant among whites and blacks living in the different parts of the world.
People have different views on the whites- blacks’ racism with people stating their support on either side of the two groups. This was widespread before the existence of Black, American community in the United States. People classified themselves as either Blacks or Whites, and this was so much to the extent of the places of residence and schools. Everything was in two categories-for the Blacks and for the Whites. There were schools, hospitals, estates, roads, and everything else for whites where the blacks could not go and obtain any services (Rocchio 66).
Before watching some comic performances by the current comics, I was of the notion that the whites were the racist group of the two. In all activities, events, and occurrences in line with racism, it was evident that the whites were the most racist and would discriminate against the blacks in everything. The whites were the ones with the notion of being superior to the blacks and had access to the best of everything in the states. The whites had the excellent residential areas, good jobs, provided their children with the greatest education facilities, and got the finest health care services, unlike their blacks’ counterparts. To me the whites were discriminating against the blacks because it was a minority community in the world and they did not have godfathers in most areas of life. The ancestors of blacks in the United States were considered the slaves who went to work overseas and this made the whites look down upon the Black community.
One of the most notable stand-up comic is Chris Rock who originates from the Blacks community. Most of his performances have touched on the subject of racism communicating his opinions and beliefs on the subject in a humorous manner. Chris Rock has had performances all over the world in which he has been able to capture enthusiastic audiences in all the shows. Chris talks about racism in different aspects from the entertainment world to the residential areas to the politics of the United States. In his most recent show in which he discusses the Obama elections, he clearly brings the subject of racism, which was going to have an effect in politics at that particular time. In a humorous way, Chris describes the origin of Obama- the presidential candidate and explains on how different people will vote for him. In a funny way, he describes the notion the whites of America have that the Blacks will vote for Obama just because he is black and one of their own. In this sense, the whites think that blacks do not think and reason before voting which is what the whites do. This is exceedingly racism as the whites’ thoughts portray the blacks as being inferior and unreasonable people who do not deserve such prominent positions in the country (Gorman 87).
Chris Rock goes on to talk about racism in relation to how social and accommodative the whites are, unlike the blacks. In his jokes, he says he knows white people who have many black friends and they usually have no problem socializing with the blacks. On the other hand, he claims to know exceedingly few blacks who have white friends in the United States, and this is a clear indication that the discrimination comes from the Blacks’ side. The fact that blacks do not mingle with ease with the whites is an indication that they still consider themselves as being inferior to the whites. He describes how the blacks have taken the back seat and have found comfort in being the minority and inferior in the community letting the whites have the best of everything.
In his other stand up shows Chris talks of how the blacks increase the racism aspect in the community by using the word “Nigga.” The blacks have an idea of the origin of the word “Nigga” which was a word the whites used to refer to any blacks. As much as the word is demeaning to the blacks, they comfortably refer to each other as “Nigga.” The problem arises when a white person refers to the blacks using the word “Nigga”; it becomes offensive to the black community. Chris Rock wonders in his jokes how people conclude that the blacks can be racists and live with it but when the whites become racists, it becomes a national issue. In his film- roll with the new, Chris explains that these behaviors of the Blacks glorifies sloth and ignorance and express the blacks’ contentment with being the minority community. This view brings out a remarkably different opinion on the issue of racism where the whites have the brand as the racist people in the whole world (Brooks 112).
From this stand-up comic, I get to understand that racism starts with the blacks who are not confident of themselves and allow other people to intimidate their way of life. By accepting to be the minority group in the community, the blacks are giving the other races a foundation for racism. As much as racism was widespread, in the past times especially from the side of the whites, things have changed, and the whites are no longer tolerating racism. The comedian’s point of view on racism is that it begins with the blacks, in the end, the whites get the blame for any discrimination, and yet the Blacks discriminate against themselves as a community. This is true judging from the behaviors of the Black people and their relations with other people in the society. Racism is not a one-way issue as in it works from both ends of the concerned parties and in this case, it is unfair to brand the whites as racists without looking at the side of blacks.
Watching the Chris Rock’s works made me have a different opinion on the issue of racism of blacks and whites community. The basis of the present racism is on the behaviors of the black people and their mindset in which they classify themselves as the minority. This makes them be unusually sensitive on everything that happens in their lives, and they are ready to blame others for their misfortunes. Through stand-up comedy, I have been able to have a different opinion on the issue of racism and avoid judging the whites for any problems that the blacks maybe facing. Racism in the black community starts with the people in the community and not the outsiders. Watching Chris Rock performances gave me a positive view on the whites’ community and changed the notion that they are racists.
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