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"Swim! Swim For Your Life!": That's Pretty Much All I Can Quote From The NYO's Shocking-And-Hilarious Humor Piece, "Black Comic Introduces McCain"

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Most of the links I have seen for this Observer piece imagining a black comedian introducing John McCain at the RNC have been along the lines of "Don't drink coffee while reading this," and "Yep, that pretty much sums up the RNC" (with one "I'm personally offended"). Maybe that's because the third line is, "This conference so white, Helen Mirren tried to snort it!" and goes from there, leading into a finish that you really couldn't say on Fox News.

For such a hilarious piece — written by "Jimmy Kimmel Live" writer Jonathan Bines, formerly of the Daily Show — it's gotten surprisingly little pickup. (33 links, according to Technorati.) It's not because it's not funny, and it's not because it's not, er, topical. It's because things get confusing when a white comedian writes a black comedian introducing a white Presidential candidate running against a black Presidential candidate before a 98.5% white audience — making jokes like, "But it's time to bring out the white man you've all been waiting for. This man is so white, he makes y'all look Mexican," and others on, er, the ancillary benefits of being a P.O.W.

Here's a fairly neutral excerpt:

You're so white, your vice presidential nominee got the word 'pale' in her name!

(laughter, applause)

Look at this place. I can't believe this shit! Y'all couldn't find one single brother?


There is? Where?


Yo, what up, brother! Looks like you the only chocolate chip in the cookie.


You look like a fly in a glass of milk, yo. Swim! Swim for your life!


Alaska in the house!

If you think I'm going to unpack any more of this, you're crazy. (Especially since, coming from chillier climes myself, I prefer to plead the Fifth.) But that is obviously instructive — really good political comedy should make us squirm a bit, should push the envelope, should blare out some uncomfortable truths. (And I will say that, though I chose to run this post with no accompanying photo, I did spend some time looking around Google Images for pics of Chris Rock.)

Even so, this is the stuff that typically does not get picked up because it's so damn fraught. I have noted in the past that one of the sharpest and most cutting SNL sketches last season failed to gain traction online. It was called "The Obama Files" and it hit the who identity politics thing head on, back on March 1st — before Reverend Wright, before Obama's now-historic Race Speech, and way before Jesse Jackson whispered that he'd like to cut Obama's nuts off. Back on March 1st, the SNL cartoon lampooned how Obama was distancing himself from Jackson and Al Sharpton; after the ep, I wrote that it was "sure to be controversial," but I was wrong, because no one touched it (read more here.)

But I will say that this is the first humor bit in a while that I have seen written about the racial politics of this election — for a while there it's been all about lipstick and pigs and moose and shooting Russia from a plane flying over Palin's house in Alaska. But now, the shift seems to be from race as it relates to Obama to race as it relates to McCain. I think that's sort of interesting.

This country has come a long way in talking about this stuff this year, though the low number of links on this piece suggest that it still has a ways to go (or that the Observer should step up its PR efforts! Maybe get a Twitter account?). Or maybe I am over-thinking. Anyhow, it's a pretty damn funny piece and I recommend it, maybe read in conjunction with this quote from Chris Rock's show at MSG in May:

"[My only three black neighbors are] Mary J. Blige, one of the greatest singers of all time, Denzel Washington, one of the greatest actors of all time, and Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers of all time." His white neighbor? "A dentist. And he isn't like the greatest dentist in history either. I had to host the Oscars to get that house — a black dentist in my neighborhood would have to invent teeth."

Black Comic Introduces McCain

See, white comedians write black comedians like THIS. [Alex Balk Tumblr]
Someone's Mom Compares It To "F*ing Matt Damon"
[Jess & Josh]
Andrew Sullivan Spits Up His Latte [Daily Dish]

Also Related:
Ignoring "The Obama Files" [ETP]
Chris Rock Isn't Laughing [Rolling Stone]