A conversation with Luenell: When does Black comedy become hurtful?
Luenell breaks it down
When it comes to comedy, African Americans have always skirted the lines of political correctness. Subjects deemed unacceptable for mainstream America has always been fair-game in small Black clubs. Known as the “Chitlin circuit,” these small clubs were found in historically Black areas of the south and midwest, they featured comics like Redd Foxx, Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor and Moms Mabley. In these clubs, largely owned by African Americans, with African-American audiences, jokes about race relations, women and the gay community were delivered without hesitation, most sets would get a comic blacklisted today. Especially comedians like Luenell and serial offender Corey Holcomb.
Heyday of Black Comedy
It appears the days of “Chitlin’ Circuits” was the heyday of Black comedy. It was a time when Black comedians rarely entered mainstream culture but had the autonomy to dictate ‘funny,’ and guide social thought with their stand-up routines. While commercialization of Black comedy has led to tremendous advances for Black entertainment, financially, it has threatened comics’ ability to spew unfettered truths and hysterical insight.
So where’s the middle ground? Rolling out Magazine recently spoke with Luenell (by the way, check out her nudes, yeah, nudes) a widely recognizable face on the big screen, TV and stage for answers. As a true master at her craft, and one of few female comics who speak her truths without shame (see Luenell versus social media) Luenell is a comedic force known for her razor-sharp edge and wit. Her film credits include Borat, Think Like a Man Too, School Dance and the horror movie Matthew 18 with fellow comedian Faizon Love. She can be seen next in Dolemite Is My Name, the Rudy Ray Moore biopic starring Eddie Murphy coming to NetFlix.
Rolling Out Magazine: Interview with Luenell
When did you see a change in what was once okay to say in front of Black audiences but is now being judged as politically incorrect?
The rise of social media is the culprit. There was a time when all comedians — Black and White — worked unfiltered. There was no comedy police. Now people get on social media and examine every aspect of a person’s material and life.
Does this mean Black comedians should fundamentally change their material?
When I perform, I am not trying to push my way of thinking on any person through my material. As a comedian, you must choose the material based on the audience you are entertaining at the time in a comedy setting. But my act is more than just jokes, it’s about me, Luenell, and my many fans know my background, so I do not have to really change my material or who I am.
If a White comedian, such as Larry the Cable Guy, were to use the N-word they would face a tremendous backlash. Is this a double standard?
There would be a backlash and rightly so. I do not use the N-word, and I do not justify its use whether it’s “nigg” ending in an r, a, or ah. Using that word is like someone pressing something hot against your skin repeatedly. It hurts and will eventually leave a mark. It’s a hurtful word, and I do not support its use.
When is comedic material hurtful?
When it’s targeted and malicious [or] when comedians take to the stage with material that targets a person or a group. These comedians know what they are doing and are being mean and hurtful.
In closing, what would you like to state about Black comedy today?
I want to look at how we are labeling internet stars as comedians. Some videos that are viral on social media posted by folks are truly funny. These individuals can be great actors, but I do not consider them comedians.
While we at TheySoFunny.com disagree slightly, we understand Luenells point. These people may not be ‘stand-up’ ready, but many are funny and should be considered comedians. We won’t sit through a socialmedians “set,” but we will watch a 30 second clip. What say you?
A conversation with Luenell: When does Black comedy become hurtful? appeared first on Rolling Out.