The Brunt of the Joke: Black Comedy & Homophobia
First off, let me say that I can take a joke. I really can. But whenever I sit down to watch a DVD, YouTube sketch or Vine video made by a young black comedian, I expect to be insulted at any given moment.
Gay jokes can be funny. Really funny actually. As stereotypical as it was, the Men on Film sketches from In Living Color were really funny. And white stand up comedians like Louis C. K. and others make Gay jokes an art form.
The difference between white comedians and black comedians though is the obvious disdain and fear black men have for Gays. Seriously, black male comedians are very hateful to Gays in their comedy. There’s a very fine line walked in whats “just a joke” vs “I really hate these faggot mothafuckas.”
I recently watched the Comedy Central Roast of actor James Franco. It featured the likes of Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live) and Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live) mocking James Franco for the ever flowing rumors of his sexuality. There were tons of Gay jokes. The difference here is that the gay jokes were vulgar yet not insulting in some weird way. Many of the white comedians seemed to low-key compliment Franco for being able to pull off Bisexuality with his stunning good looks. But the sheer number of Gay jokes became so overwhelming that Indian-American comedian Aziz Ansari had to comment:
Black comedians, on the other hand, HATE gay people. They seem to despise them. True there are exceptions like The Wayans, Dave Chappelle and a few others. But for the most part, when you see “gay” depicted in black comedy, it’s seen as something disgusting, abnormal, hidden and kept on the “down low”. From Eddie Murphy to Martin Lawrence to The Kings of Comedy… Homosexuality is not made fun of like white comedians where it’s seen as a “wink-wink” kind of thing. It’s depicted as gross, disgusting and “Ewww, nigga you gay, get away from me.”
Take one of my favorite comedians, Kevin Hart. Watching his stand up comedy film, Let Me Explain, with a male date we initially laughed when Hart went into the “gay” section of his act. Very quickly it devolved into borderline abuse and homophobia.
Kevin Hart started the jokes with the statement, “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay.” Whoa. Okay, I initially thought he was going to go into a bit about his fearing the pressures his son would have to face from society for his sexuality. But that was all wishful thinking.
Nope, Kevin feared his son becoming a flaming faggot. Oh, he tried to cover himself by saying, “I’m not homophobic” but they all do that. That’s like when a racist says, “I’m not a racist” right before he tells a “black-man-is-a-spear-chucker” joke. Saying, “I’m not a rapist” right before you forcefully violate a woman doesn’t make it so.
But seriously…What if that were a white comedian talking about not wanting his son to be around a little black kids?
No, I get it, it’s just a joke. A joke about little kids humping on each other. Nothing inherently disturbing about that. Relax, Delmacy. True, Kevin’s jokes were pretty tame compared to many other black comedians.
Take Saturday Night Live/30 Rock comedian Tracy Morgan for example. He “joked” onstage that he would stab and murder his son if he found out the boy was gay. Comedy gold. It was so funny that people in the audience began booing him and his response was to insult homosexuals even more!
To a lesser extent, let’s take a look at relatively unknown actor Page Kennedy. For all those who don’t know who he is (which is likely most of you), Page is what is called a “Day Player” actor on many network television shows. What this means is he usually comes in for one day to play a drug dealer or thug on Cold Case or Law & Order: SVU. Recently, he’s made use of the free time created by his lackluster acting career by uploading a series of popular comedy sketches on YouTube and the video app Vine.
One of his favorite default comedy gimmicks is seen in a series of short sketches where he secretly films “tests” to see if any of his black male friends are gay by randomly feeling on them in intimate ways. If they don’t push him off fast enough, they are laughed at and ridiculed as being “gay” to the entire room full of black homophobic frat-boy acting men.
I remember boys doing this when I was in high school. But in that case they were immature children, not grown ass men.
The most disappointing thing about these videos is one of our favorite upcoming black comedic actors Andrew Bachelor is in on the homophobic humor as well. He’s even filming most of these “sketches” and is seen laughing at the end of each of them.
Are heterosexual black men really that paranoid about even slightly coming off as gay in a time when even the first black President of the United States of America is pro-gay? Most of my friends are heterosexual and NONE of them have acted like this past their teenage years.
SIDE NOTE: 100% of the high school boys that I saw engage in these “gay tests” ended up being revealed as insecure down-low gay or bisexual men themselves as the years went on. Just putting that out there. Page Kennedy might be trying to tell us something about himself. Maybe.
If these “tests to see if my friend is gay” sketches were the only gay bashing that Page Kennedy participated in, I may have just dismissed them as adolescent attempts at humor from a grown man. But Page is OBSESSED with gay men. Seriously. He thinks about gay shit more than I do, and I’m VERY gay.
He is fascinated by finding anything perceived as gay in seemingly masculine heterosexual men. He even started an ongoing series of heavily researched YouTube comedy videos called “That’s So Drake” where he acts as a “homosexuality detective” to expose anything black male celebrities do that appears unintentionally “gay”.
Let’s not even talk about the fact that this “That’s So Drake” Page Kennedy gay video has nearly a million views. Instead, let’s discuss why it’s always the most unattractive black men who are always worried about “the gays.”
Reminds me of the very first Misconception that Straight Men have about Masculine Gay Men. PAGE KENNEDY, US GAY MEN ARE NOT CHECKING FOR YOU, AT ALL! PLEASE BELIEVE THIS! We like “sexy” men just as much as you like “sexy” women. You sir, are not “sexy”.
I can’t blame this mediocre black actor entirely though. There is a culture of homophobia spread throughout the black culture from local barbershops to mainstream Hip Hop music/media that infects all like a virus.
Take another popular black show, The Boondocks. This show has mocked black gay men quite a bit. Their satiric take on the rumors about Tyler Perry was actually pretty brilliant. But underneath that witty writing is still the same disgust and disdain for any and all things “gay”, especially when it comes to black men.
On the Boondocks, black gay/bisexual men are depicted as shameful predatory deviants that should be avoided at all costs. Take one of the two main characters Huey, for instance. This is one of his ON-GOING catchphrases.
Yeah the first couple times can be funny…but after about 8-10 blatant insults in a single season, a black gay man starts to wonder if Aaron McGruder is subliminally telling us that we’re not wanted. Methinks the Lady, Ms McGruder, doth protest too much.
Again, I can take a joke. Especially a gay joke that I can relate to…I’ve seen MANY straight white comedians make gay jokes where they imply they are gay themselves just for the sake comedy. That is totally fine. It’s seen as “white boy humor.” But this is a key point. Another observation I’ve made is the black comedians who primarily interact with white people seem to be less judgmental when it comes to homosexuality.
Take one of our favorite actor/rappers Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino). Before he landed his role on the NBC comedy Community, he performed as the sole black Amercan with the Derrick Comedy sketch comedy crew. Here’s one of their hilariously creative “gay -themed” sketches from 6 years ago spoofing the film “Memento”.
Donald Glover’s character doesn’t purport to love engaging in a gay act, but you still don’t feel the weird disgusted aversion that the aforementioned black comedy actors display even merely pretending to slightly engage in gay intimacy.
So clearly I’m not accusing ALL black comedians of homophobia. But enough of them are that if I take a male date to a comedy club, It’s a good chance that we’ll hear more than a few extremely homophobic gay jokes. Hell, we may even be singled out by the comedian on stage for being two attractive men sitting at a table alone together, sharing a basket of wings and fries.
Is this just par for the course? Will the black community ever get to the place where the white community is when it comes to calling out homophobia in comedy? White audience members QUICKLY shut Tracy Morgan down when he started his homophobic “comedy” rant. Even when Seinfeld actor Michael “Kramer” Richards got racist at the Laugh Factory, the white people in the audience quickly turned against him as soon as the word “Nigger” left his lips.
I highly doubt it…but maybe the ultimate joke in that situation is expecting anything different. It turns out they’ll always be laughing at us but never with us…and unless we start standing up for ourselves, we’ll likely always be the brunt of the joke.
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