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The Second City Network Joins In On The Recent Interest In Everything Slavery-Themed (Are You Laughing?)

by Emmanuel Akitobi
June 21, 2012 8:58 AM
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The highly anticipated Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained . . . Steve McQueen's Twelve Years A Slave . . . the controversial adidas "slavery-chain" sneakers.  The piece of American history that many Americans don't like to talk about is suddenly the talk of the town.  And the famous Second City comedy improv troupe, which has in the past done sketches featuring slavery-themes, has decided to foray into familiar territory with one of their latest, titled, If Credit Card Companies Told The Truth.

Their website claims that "The Second City is the leading brand in improv-based sketch comedy."

Now, I'm all for a good laugh, and I can take a joke as well as the next guy.  But is this latest Second City sketch bordering on distasteful, or am I being overly sensitive?  And are we to blame for agreeing to participate in such sketches in the first place?

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  • Africameleon | June 21, 2012 5:55 PMReply

    I understand the concept, metaphorically, but it was poorly executed. The focus was on the black experience of slavery and the black experience of financial debt. However, in the final seconds of the sketch, their was a group of white, latino, and asian "slaves" singing the "massa card" spiritual. I guess this was supposed to mean that "we are all slaves" to the financial system... blah. Wasn't funny to me. However, if someone like Paul Mooney, Dave Chapelle, or even Key & Kel (on a good day) would have done this skit, would we think it was funny then? Can a joke about antibellum slavery = millennial financial debt and bondage be done right? I don't know.

  • Darkan | June 24, 2012 5:47 PM

    Case Depart was a funny film, primarily due to a lot of innuendo and the filmmakers chose the path to teach a lesson to the viewers.

  • JMac | June 21, 2012 6:23 PM

    If Chapelle, Mooney, or a resurrected Pryor reworked this skit it probably would be hilarious. Even thinking back to the quicksand scene in Blazing Saddles makes me crack up. I've recently heard some black comedians do slave jokes or implied slave jokes that were funny. Just depends on what/who is the butt of the joke. Which reminds me I still haven't watched Case Depart yet although I've got the subtitles now....

  • Charles Judson | June 21, 2012 5:05 PMReply

    Considering how credit cards can put people in debt for decades and Black folks and minorities are often the most targeted groups in the country for high interest credit cards and the like (especially as more states outlaw or limit pay day loans and similar practices), I'm not sure how this is out of bounds. Some of the practices of banks and credit card institutions can at times be equated with a form of economic sharecropping. I understand the comments and reactions, but we seem to be skipping right over our present reality, especially in light of our current high as hell unemployment rate. Economically, Black folk are still the proverbial canary in the coal mine.

  • karen marie mason | June 21, 2012 4:48 PMReply

    some bullshit.

  • onyx | June 21, 2012 4:38 PMReply

    It just wasn't funny, or cutting edge. More like Meh . . .

  • SANKHOFA | June 24, 2012 4:07 PM

    I agree. It just wasn't funny at all.

  • Terri Jeann | June 21, 2012 4:32 PMReply

    Nothing about slavery is funny to me except hanging a slave-holder by the balls from a tree!!!

  • Davyjc | June 21, 2012 3:45 PMReply

    Not quite ready to start laughing about slavery. If our minds are still awash with it and since there are real slaves still enduring this injustice on the planet today, it's very hard to make a joke. Of course, the writers are clueless. I could see them in the writers room, just laughing...and laughing...

  • NinaG | June 21, 2012 3:25 PMReply

    Not feeling this and re-thinking taking improv classes w/ them.

  • CareyCarey | June 21, 2012 2:15 PMReply

    IF IT'S FUNNY -- IT'S FUNNY. Listen, I am begining to believe white folks know black folks better than they know themselves... or at least they ain't afraid to talk about it. I'm serious, look at this--> "Years ago, when the first Shaft movies came out and the Superfly movies came out, I was very much for them, because I felt that this was a possibility for the African-Americans to take over... and then the African-American INTELLECTUALS came out against these movies... And I thought that that was a mistake. So consequently what you have now is all these excellent African-American actors playing second banana to the white action heroes... ~ Andrew Sarris. UT OH, he bruised a few egos -- didn't he? So maybe... just maybe... sometimes... sometimes when you least expect it, you might be elected, and some black folks should "lighten up & "stop hatin"! I'm serious, doesn't get tired tired tired talking about how the white man uses us? And how soon we forget. It was funny as hell when we were chuck-chuck-chuckling down the road in balls laughter while pointing fingers at white folks. Remember that brilliant web series The Unwritten Rule? Yeah, surely y'all remember TWO DAYS AGO? White folks were the butt of every damn joke, and now we cry "oh me, oh my, why dey do us so bad?". And wait, er'body was laughing their asses off @DearWhitePeople. OH YEAH... 105 comments of chucklebuck laughter -- and praise. And who said we focus too much on race? Well, that's true to. In the last week alone, S&A has posted over 100 brilliant thought provoking posts, but one post on orange velcro tennis shoe "shackles" received more comments than all the others COMBINED! But you know what, it's not all black folk's fault. I mean, I have to be fair about this. I was talking with an S&A writer/contributor and they said - ....."remember, there were over ***8 (last time I looked) 'likes'. It's just, the people who 'like' a piece use that as their comment. So, the people who disagree take over the comment section. Keep yourself in the arena" . Now that makes sense. Nevertheless, when I go to a movie theater (especially a comedy), nothing annoys me more than a crying baby. So some black folks should check themselves before they...

  • CareyCarey | June 21, 2012 4:40 PM

    You got me Lovesfilmnmusic. I can't say that I actually laughed but I did appreciate the satirical appoach. More importantly, I was not offended in the least. Listen, I am a black man who has been lied on, beaten and abused by white people. And, as I've said before, I can trace my family back to slavery. However, as I've also said many times, slavery is not "our" story. I'm not going to explain that, but I've never found a purpose to live in a life long misery of contempt for another person nor race. Consequently, and fortunately, I do not mix my art with political and social issues. I can separate reality from art. I am not in the crowd of those who believes the myth that movies play a significant role in the development of our children, nations, nor world wide race relationships. That's why I do not advocate getting all bent out of shape behind this kind of production. Lastly, if I could ask those who vent and/or become outraged at films such as this, I would ask them what rewards THEY are receiving from "complaining"and finger pointing ? I am sure they would pause. Believe me, they would not keep their response in first person. Generally they will respond with a superficial response which includes the word "we" or "they". Think about that.

  • Kenneth | June 21, 2012 4:12 PM

    Darnell, you have some damn nerve. You dare to equate joking about annoying white co-workers to joking about slavery? That just proves that you, Darnell, are a mental slave. Just like most of these preachers you idolize. Preaching ignorance to the readers of this site. And you cannot preach to us like you preach to those little boys. I see you, Darnell. I know you.

  • Lovesfilmnmusic | June 21, 2012 3:13 PM

    But was it funny to you? You never did say.

  • T'Challa | June 21, 2012 1:00 PMReply

    SMH... it boils down to Black folks really having ZERO, economic or political power. I'm not talking about potential power, but rather how we currently use our resources. It's this lack of power that allows businesses and media, to ridicule, belittle, and profit off our misery. As mentioned, no way in hell would the Jewish community be subject to this type of humour..

  • Darkan | June 21, 2012 12:25 PMReply

    Wow... I agree with you Tambay. Hollywood does anything it wants to. Oh well, most black people are too busy "chasing da paper" and "grindin" & "hustlin" to be worried bout it. I wonder how many lighten up & "stop hatin" comments we're gonna have on here today? If I do remember history correct, the Jews had the whole easy going attitude about Hitler until they were shipped off to Krakaw and Auschwitz. SMDH really hard!

  • Peggy | June 21, 2012 9:49 AMReply

    "What's the last four digits of your SS#? - WHACK!"
    That was kinda funny, and true. However, when trying to analyze how appropriate this is, ask yourself, "Would they have done the same with the Holocaust?"
    "You made a late payment on that oven you bought?? - Well, off to the showers with you! Mein Herr!" Somehow I don't think so. It's past time for a black filmmaker to show the REAL deal of slavery. Rape, murder, torture, everything. In 3D. And win an Oscar, like all the other movies and documentaries about the Holocaust tend to do.

  • CareyCarey | June 21, 2012 6:46 PM

    Jmac, you are so correct. In fact, Jewish gentlemen were some of the first comics on TV. Much of their routines revolved around the Holocaust. Like the first blacks on television, Jews were also a minority group in the USA. Consequently, just like black folks, they found it cathartic to laugh at some of the more dreadful experiences of their past. Heck, the great Charlie Chaplin even produced a satire titled, The Great Dictator (1940). He played the role of "Adenoid Hynkel", Dictator of Tomainia, modeled on German dictator Adolf Hitler.

  • JMac | June 21, 2012 6:16 PM

    "They" do make fun of the Holocaust - watch any of Seth MacFarlane's vehicles ... may even see some on Comedy Central or Adult Swim. Just have to know where to look, who to follow, or which shows to watch.

  • the black police | June 21, 2012 9:21 AMReply

    It has begun... (or continued, really)

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