Comedy 101: Accidental Racism Is Funny!

During one of the commentary tracks for an episode of the brilliant It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the actors/creators of the show were arguing an interesting point in the realm of comedic science regarding when racism can be funny.

If you’ve seen the show, you realize that all five main characters are awful, horrible people. (Think everyone from Seinfeld, but even more so.) In one of the episodes – and you’ll have to excuse any errors, since I’m pulling this from memory – the “gang” was introduced to a black guy and started making comments about various racial stereotypes he might like, as in fried chicken, rap music, calling him “bro” and things of that nature. The trick was, they weren’t being racist against him. They were just being ignorant, believing that the racial stereotypes we all grew up with – black people like friend chicken, Jewish people are cheap, etc. – were actually true. A kind of “accidental racism”. There’s a very distinct difference between the two.

For example, videos of white rednecks referring to people of a different skin color by using different racial epitaphs? That’s racist.  Whereas, with the second ignorance variety of humor, you’ll have videos like this:

HI-larious. And yes, that whole high-fallutin’ spiel up top was just an excuse to post that video.

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About Rick Mosely Rick is the editor for TSB magazine.

Comedy 101: Accidental Racism Is Funny!

During one of the commentary tracks for an episode of the brilliant It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the actors/creators of the show were arguing an interesting point in the realm of comedic science regarding when racism can be funny.

If you’ve seen the show, you realize that all five main characters are awful, horrible people. (Think everyone from Seinfeld, but even more so.) In one of the episodes – and you’ll have to excuse any errors, since I’m pulling this from memory – the “gang” was introduced to a black guy and started making comments about various racial stereotypes he might like, as in fried chicken, rap music, calling him “bro” and things of that nature. The trick was, they weren’t being racist against him. They were just being ignorant, believing that the racial stereotypes we all grew up with – black people like friend chicken, Jewish people are cheap, etc. – were actually true. A kind of “accidental racism”. There’s a very distinct difference between the two.

For example, videos of white rednecks referring to people of a different skin color by using different racial epitaphs? That’s racist.  Whereas, with the second ignorance variety of humor, you’ll have videos like this:

HI-larious. And yes, that whole high-fallutin’ spiel up top was just an excuse to post that video.

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About Rick Mosely Rick is the editor for TSB magazine.

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