ComedySummer of Blacker Love

funny and not in the margins: eleven comics to know

June 25, 2019

If I hear one more white entertainer tell me how good a time it is for Black people in the industry, and how they are struggling because whiteness is no longer in high demand, I am going to blow up. I’ve been told some version of this personally, by other young artists, and often masked in post-grad anxieties. Something like, “Ugh you’re so lucky, no one wants to cast another white voice, ya know?” The packaging arrives a little differently when it comes publicly from well-established artists I admire. The statement is usually mumbled in anger, with ALL CAPS, BOLD, ITALICIZED uses of words like “uptight” and “sensitive” to describe those the “formerly” privileged feel challenged by. Some of our comedic legends blame their newfound lack of opportunity on the kids. Unfortunately, the description of their suffering often comes at the expense of a generation attempting to create real change and raise the bar to accurately represent who we are. To this I say, I don’t think you’re hearing us: we just want to have a good time.

Ever since PC culture became the new normal for mainstream entertainment, there has been a gross miscommunication about the new generation of comedy and its audience. These generational disparities have caused tension and confusion between those representing “then” and repp’ing “now.” Naturally, there are extremists on both ends, but I’m here to advocate for us in the middle, who just want to laugh our faces off, educate ourselves and push culture forward. It’s okay to try and fail as long as you continue to try.

There have certainly been strides in the comedy world, in terms of who we put on our platform. With great opportunity comes great responsibility — that is something the youth of comedy understands. Because of the plethora of comedians at the forefront who represent the way our world looks, we’ve had more microphones pointed towards us asking for us to tell our own firsthand experiences, than ever before. Those who feel agitated when old jokes no longer land, I ask, “Now that we’ve had a taste, why the hell would we accept less?” Instead of celebrating the new Amazon-branded and geo-tagged microphones on us, some of our leaders have opted to ridicule us with their pagers. <Don’t be sensitive, that was just a joke.> 

Change is awkward. It’s like middle school. It’s weird, it can be ugly, but it’s inevitable. It is also exaggerated by our own fear. Change is to include, not exclude. If you feel like you are being pushed out, then do the work! Become better, stay with the times and grow as we do. There are some things that will never change. People will always laugh and life is always going to be funny. Nothing is off the table in comedy. Seriously, every single group of people has a sense of humor. But let it be known that there is a difference between poking fun and being a total asshole. The best guideline before making a joke that targets disenfranchised people is asking yourself: is it worth it? Re-evaluate if you are working hard enough, or relying on shock factor at the expense of others and mistaking it for art.

Comedy has changed for the better, and this is a great time to celebrate some of the change-makers. It is Pride month and the queer community of color has been killing the comedy game. Here are some funny people to get familiar with if you are not already. Give em a follow!