Hej funny Beasts!
So, I host a comedy night in Sthlm, Sweden and every so often a I hear comic use the N-word. To be clear I mean “nigga” not “nigger” it is not the same word! In this particular mic the crowd and comics are usually all white with me being the only black comic, needless to say it gets a little weird when somebody is dropping n-bombs like a Yeezy concert. A white comic saying Nigga jokes is like a creepy comic making a rape jokes. They are obviously joking but instead of the desired effect of laughter, its replaced with silence, tension and makes certain people uncomfortable maybe even boo. I am often put into a position when I put up a white comic and he drops the N-bomb, and as a host, everyone in the crowd looks at me for approval with this “Is it cool if we laugh smile” as if I´m Caesar deciding a gladiators fate in the arena. (Especially in Super PC-Sweden). My rule of thumb is this, if its funny I´ll give it a laugh BUT if its at the expense of black culture I´ll simply SMH maybe even yell out a ‘not cool’. That is the difference I want to depict!
“Thats it?” Yup, in a nutshell, as a comic/host its my job to make sure the vibe stays energetic/jovial laugh per minute quota is filled and introduce the acts, pretty much a glorified cheer-leader (minus the flips). It is not my job however to decide what is funny, that lays solely on the crowd. However words do have history, especially the infamous “N-word” so when a non-black comic uses it, the crowd immediately has to differentiate where this comic’s POINT OF VIEW originates. Even when I drop the a couple of ni##as, it makes the crowd cringe, but I should get the pass right? It has much more of a history in the States then it does in Sweden but yet still magnetizes the internationally. For instance, a rape joke can be funny in the right hands, but also hurtful like the word bitch, although I hear women and gay dudes fling bitch back and forth in converse more than a U.S. Open match. Its one big a sex and city episode in context – no one is offended but me yelling b##ch to my lady in a heated argument, might not seem so fabulous.
I grew up in a predominately Latin people in Washington Heights, NYC (Dominicans/Puerto Ricans) and they term “nigga” was used more than black folk. I can understand it because we all grew up in the hood therefore by proxy we were all “niggas”. (Although most of us went to private school go figure) so in this context it was used as a phrase solidarity. Nowadays, it seems to be an onslaught of “culture vultures” that deem it necessary to exploit “niggas” or for lack of better term “hood nigga” culture. ROLL CLIP
At first glance I´m not going to lie, I chuckled a bit but immediately afterward thought “wait a sec, this is at the expense of black culture and perpetuating a stereotype”, take a black dudes phone and he’ll maul you like a wildebeest, all for the glory of youtube hits? If you don’t think so check out the comments, whats worse is there are several more of these “prank types” all in the “hood”. Textbook exploitation people!
I digress, words are powerful as a performer and I´m not here to claim word police so comic crusader I humbly request, if you´re gonna use a racial slur- tip: DON´T PREFACE IT! Would you preface sex with “may the penis proceed?” hell to the no because she already knows the hammers about to drop. The stage is the preface as is your pants being off. So just go hard (no pun intended) and commit to that racial slur, people will pick up your intent, hopefully the joke hits. If not maybe you offend some people, but thats art, you must take risks! Going up on stage with black face tap dancing shouting MAMIEEE, exploitation, making a hip-hop reference, O K ! Just Gauge yourself, or ask an a black dude, “hey is this offensive?”. Neil Brennan said it best in this Esquire interview. If your going to be using powerful weaponry there is vigorous boot camp, words are no different, do a little researcher, google it, do whatever you can before you go on stage throwing out racial slur based jokes so the context is clear and it kills my nigga!