I’m usually all for the greater comedic good, so a bit of jest made in poor taste doesn’t normally raise an eyebrow of mine. Shit, I’ve even been known to laugh at some jokes which some would easily classify as culturally insensitive or dare I say, racist.
I totally get comedic timing and quite frankly, I live most of my life by the times in which I can create some sort of awkward silence that might eventually leads to a laugh. Point is, for me there’s normally a bit of humor in everything, even in vitriol; It’s just who I am. However, I know when that dotted line in the sand becomes blurred and the platitude “there’s a time and a place for everything” comes into play. A great deal of that time and place directly correlates with a who. Who’s in action and who’s in attendance.
This past Saturday (4/9/16) at New York City’s annual Inner Circle Dinner, democratic nomination front-runner Hillary Clinton was joined on stage at the swanky black tie affair with the cities Mayor, Bill de Blasio, and a cast member from the highly publicized Broadway play Hamilton in Leslie Odom Jr. The totality of their appearance seems to start some sort of comedic bit. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. It goes like this:
Two white people walk onto a stage with a black guy.
The white woman says to the white man “Thanks for the endorsement Bill, took you long enough.” Then the white guy goes:
“Sorry Hillary…I was running on C.P time”
One obviously vexed audience member can be heard yelling “NO!” and the joke falls so flat that the entire turnout misses where the black guy adds context and goes,
“That’s not — I don’t like jokes like that, Bill.”
Then the white lady goes “ Cautious politician time, I’ve been there”.
Ahhhh, I see what you did there. The thing is it just wasn’t the right time, nor the right place and not for nothing, she wasn’t the right person to execute it.
For de Blasio I get it, though ill timed as it may have been. He has a large black constituency and black wife too. Shit, he literally MAKES colored people, so the irony wasn’t lost on me at all. Furthermore, I comprehend the overall frames of reference. He was late to support a front-running candidate. Also, I grasp the archaic though sometimes true stereotype of “Colored People’s Time” (don’t look at me like that, you know its true). I even get where the joke was supposed to be. One must play cautious politics especially when it comes to endorsing a candidate for ones respective political party. Even more so if the candidate who requires endorsement is in a tooth and nail dogfight with the peoples champ, Bernie Sanders.
With all that being said, this isn’t really a joke Hilary should even want to be in on given her husbands tantrum in Philadelphia last week. The former POTUS finger wagged the black lives matter movement giving credence to what many have believed all along; that somehow he and his wife think they’ve assisted black people more than they actually have.
My question is why here? Of all places ?
In a room full of mostly liberal journalists and politicians who can make and literally break her. I’m sure this joke was her idea, as she has been on a campaign to over-pander to whomever she thinks she can garner votes from. Yet how could she not know that just by having a black guy present, donned in clothing from an era that was historically terrible for colored people of all sorts no less, wouldn’t somehow be a good enough buffer for a joke that really didn’t have to be made.
Its not just merely an issue of optics, but taste. Speaking of which, have you heard the one about the white guy, his secretary and the cigar? It’s hilarious.
You can view the Clinton/de Blasio misstep here:
article by Jamal Miller