Two very important things I learned recently are that "Black People are Afraid of Dogs" and "Black Girls Aren't Funny".
At least that's what a cute white guy told me the other night at a bar. Believe it or not, those two gems of black history were his pick up lines.
"Yea, you know I love Black People. But it's hard for me to keep black friends because I own a dog, and Blacks are afraid of them" he told me right after I accepted his offer to join him for a drink.
I replied "Well, it's not the dogs that are the problem, it's the racist owners that scare us!"
He laughed so loud! "Oh my God, that was funny! You should be a comedian!" he screamed.
'Well, thanks. Actually I AM a comedian. And I also love dogs! But, water hoses and the back of buses -- not so much!"
He looked at me with awe. Actually it may have been fear...like he had finally seen a new age, real life "mythical magical negro"--one that is usually only read about in fiction or seen in movies-- whose sole purpose is to save the white protagonist and help him overcome his own faults and insecurities, even if it means sacrificing oneself!
I am his ORACLE... but is he The One? I think not. But this damn sure must be The Matrix. (If only Lane Bryant carried a line of latex cat suits -- so I could be fly like Trinity).
I've actually heard the "black people are afraid of dogs" comment before. And although it angers me every time I hear it, it's what he said next that really blew my mind.
"Well, I commend you for being a comedian. That's a hard job. And I know It must be tough for you because black girls aren't funny -- generally speaking that is," he said with a grin.
Was he serious? How in the world could a guy this cute, be that dumb? When I saw him, I instantly knew he would be my first one night stand (with a white guy that is) I mean, I had many attempts in undergrad, but none prevailed. Surely, the greatest accomplishment a black girl from the south side of Chicago can make while attending a Big Ten University is to get drunk and have a random hook-up session with her white PoliSci 150 Teaching Assistant.
But just like the ones before him, this guy had just talked himself out of some coochie! His predecessors usually killed the mood by saying "I just loooove Hott Chocolate!"....but this guy had them beat with his whimsical, pseudo-intellectual musings about blacks, their fear of canines and the inability of their weaker sex to cause laughter or amusement.
What does he mean black girls aren't funny? History would prove quite the contrary. So much so, that I often find myself staring in the mirror asking "I'm Fat. I'm Black. I'm Funny. I'm Female. So where's my sitcom?"
Yes, I am the true triple threat: Funny + Black + Female which is supposed to equal instant Prime Time success. I get an automatic, token negro, sassy-sidekick role on your favorite sit-com, right? At the very least I should be a featured player on SNL for one season, or be a spokesperson for a new household cleaning product.
It's a little known fact that from birth, most black girls in inner cities are groomed for the possibility of being the "window character" to the white heroine in a romantic comedy. While our male counterparts are groomed for NBA/NFL success, or enlisting to be street soldiers wearing the "white-tee & timbs" uniform, little black girls study ancient neck rolling techniques handed down thru the centuries, practice various placements of hand-on-the-hip maneuvers, and take extensive classes on lip-smacking and eye rolling. The best and brightest of the lot go on to learn proper ghetto diction and sassy voice inflection because no black girl, no matter how funny can get a role without being able to say "Oh Know You Didn't" in the proper comedic tone that puts both fear and warmth in the heart of American Television audiences.
Of course I am being sarcastic, but one can not ignore the fact that black women have made their presence known on the American comedic landscape.
Harry Levin once said "The most protean aspect of comedy is its potentiality for transcending itself, for responding to the conditions of tragedy by laughing in the darkness." So it should be no surprise that any woman, regardless of color would have a keen sensibility that would embrace and create humor. If there has been any community that has dealt with turning lemons into lemonade, it's black women. Due to our human condition, many of us are born or bred to be comedians, whether it be with a mic in hand or not.
So what was this guy's problem?
Has he never heard of Moms Mabley, LaWanda Page, Ellen Cleghorne, Whoopi Goldberg, Mo'Nique, Wanda Sykes, Sherri Sheppard, Roz G., Maya Rudolph, Kym Whitley, Thea Vidale, Kim Wayans, Melanie Camacho, Loni Love, Leighann Lord, Shirley Hemphill, Kim Coles, Queen Aisha, Miss Laura, Nell Carter, Nikki Carr, Hope Flood, Cheryl Underwood, T'keyah Cyrstal Kemah, Marsha Warfield, Della Reese, Robin Montague, or Adele Givens?
What about Yvonne Hudson, the black woman to be a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live, followed by Danitra Vance or Sommore who for years has been the highest grossing female comedian in the country? (Thanks to Baron Vaughn for the SNL Black Trivia Tip)
I could sit here and go on and on about how funny black women are, but why bother? Our impact on the landscape of comedic arts speaks for itself. Although it is true that many times funny women are often ignored, it's up to us to create our own opportunities and make our voices heard.
Here is a list of some of the newest, freshest and FUNNIEST BLACK WOMEN to hit the comedy scene. CHECK THEM OUT!
Tune in to watch me on the show "Karith Foster: America's Girlfriend" live on www.shovio.com Wednesday, August 4th at 5pm.
Whoever said "Comedy Ain't Pretty" will rethink that statement after seeing and hearing the women on this list!
Bethany Van Delft
Follow Erica Watson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EricaWatson