Wednesday, February 19, 2014

AR-EN: Comedy and 'biracialism'

[A Notebook on Alyssa Rosenberg & Emily Nussbaum]   

In her essay “Color Commentary: the shape-shifting masterminds of ‘Key & Peele,” Emily Nussbaum writes that, “Key and Peele’s biracialism is central to their comedy, but in a far different way than I’d imagined: it is expansive, not constricting, a Golden Ticket to themes rarely explored on television.” How does Nussbaum’s observation about Key & Peele’s biracialism alter or solidify the way you view or might view their comedy?

12 comments:

Ajeenah Johnson-Brown said...

Nussbaum's observation of Key&Peele's biracialism solidifies the way I view their comedy. Key and Peele's biracial background benefits them. They imitate people of all races and by them being biracial it is somehow less insulting. They can make jokes about blacks without offending the black community, and the same for their white viewers. However, one thing that Nussbaum says in her essay that caught my attention is that she has began to put Key and Peele's show in the same category as other "afrocentric" sketch shows. This only shows that the one drop rule is still present in our society.

Candace P said...

I completely agree with Nussbaum's perception of Key & Peele's biracialism being " a school of funny that in the wrong hands can be a mean trick, as with Amos and Andy doing blackface." If Key & Peele were not biracial and were making these jokes, people would undoubtedly feel uncomfortable or offended by their comedy. Because of cultural beliefs, it is considered okay for one to make fun of people that have the same ethnicity as the comedian, but it is considered highly inappropriate to make fun of people of different ethnicity than that of the comedian. One of the most important messages, however, of Nussbaumo's esssay is that the underlying determinant of right and wrong in terms of comedy is the color of one's skin and the subject of his/her jokes.

Brenda W. said...

Whiile reading this article, I could not help but to feel guilty about thinking in the exact same manner as the author. When I hear of a show like Key and Peele's, I instantly group it as a "stereotypical black show" in my mind. It is not intentional or meant to be a negative thing (I enjoy a fair amount of biracial/"black" shows) but categorizing it as a predictable show is just what I am accustomed to. So to address the prompt, Nussbaum's observation solidifies the way I might have viewed their comedy. I am always pleasantly surprised when my predicted expectations are surpassed or altered; However, articles like this prove I need to have an open mind from the start.

Georgy N said...

I never really thought about how Key & Peels's biracialism affected their comedy. However, after reading Emily Nussbaum's article I can see how that is almost essential to their comedic sketches. I agree with her that since they are biracial they can quickly be pushed aside and labeled as another "Afrocentric" comedy show. The upside to their biracialism is that they are able to touch on many topics that other comics cannot do without seeming racist. Their comedy focuses on more than just racial issues which is a necessary mindset for society.

Jacqueline C. said...

I can agree with Nussbaum's view of Key & Peele I have watched the show several times and realized there aren't many shows on television that address biracial backgrounds. It isn't very acknowledged so for them to come up with a show imitating different races is courageous. Most people would be afraid or feel uncomfortable. They address many topics and it kind of makes you think about other races.

Conradette King said...

I totally agree with Nussbaum's observation of Key and Peele's comedy show. If they were just "black" or just "white" people would be offended by the stereotypes they portray on the show, but because they are biracial, the jokes are looked at as funny and provocative. what I don't like is how they are put in a category like "Afrocentric" because of the fact that they are not completely white so therefore they are still black.

Jacquelene Greene said...

Nussbaum’s observation did alter the way I might view their comedy. Before knowing her observation I probably would have not even considered how the fact that they were biracial plays into their comedy. But now after thinking about it, the fact that they are biracial may be an added plus to their comedy. It gives them more freedom to play with controversy. Also as Nussbaum mentioned it allows them to erase themselves and get more into their characters as opposed to Eddy Murphy or Dave Chapelle’s comedy because their personalities tend to shine through the characters.

Jacquelene G.

Ashya Ford said...

Key & Peele is a show that I have seen a couple of times just passing through the channels. I didn't think too much of it until I read this article and I can definitely say I have a new outlook. Comedy, itself, pushes barriers as far as the joke content goes; but as long as the comedians themselves don't degrade the audience, I feel like it is non offensive and easy to see that there is no harm meant behind the joke. Since these two comedians are biracial, I feel like that they just solidifies and reiterates that these jokes are simply just that and they mean no harm.

-Ashya F.

Ke'Asha jones said...

I do not believe her observation alters the way I may view their comedy, although I have never seen the show, i have seen pieces of the show from flicking through the channels but I did not pay particular attention to their bi-racialism. But after reading what was written i completely agree, had these two not been of the ethnicity they were other people of that ethnicity or maybe not of that ethnicity may have found the "comedy" a little distasteful, it just like if a person of a bigger weight says someone else is big it is not okay but it isn't seen as highly offensive, but if a person who is a little smaller say someone who is big is big other bigger people around them may feel offended because it is like that smaller person is an outsider to the bigger people.

Tia S. said...

I've always thought Key and Peele had a funny show and never really considered how their biracialism plays in to their content. After reading Nussbaum's article I can see how that does affect the audience's perception of them. Since they are biracial, people are more accepting of them playing characters of different races. They are able to "cross the racial boundaries" without making people uncomfortable like if a white comedian did blackface. Key and Peele also give insight into some of the experiences of multiracial Americans in their sketches. However, it's a shame that Nussbaum like other people originally pushed it off as "just another afrocentric comedy". As Key and Peele have shown, they tackle more subjects than just the "black perspective" and race in general in their shows. They make funny sketches that can get pretty deep sometimes and take very unexpected turns.

Ashley Bass said...

Key & Peele's biracialism allows them to talk about and mimic both the white race and the black race, without offending anyone because they belong to both races. If a white comedian is making fun of the black race, then someone may call him racist. If a black comedian is making fun of the white race then he may offend certain whites. Being biracial myself I completely understand how Key & Peele's biracialism is expansive to their comedy.

Jenee' B. said...

Nussbaum's observations solidify the way I view their comedy. I was aware that their biracialism allowed them to play many different roles without seeming as though they do not fit the particular role. It also may allow them to do this without appearing as offensive to members of a certain group that they are imitating. I feel that this also applies to many different roles in the entertainment field, such as modeling or any other type of acting.