Does comedy offer a unique angle on race?
Rob Huebel is an American comedian based in New York City. Huebel and fellow comedians Aziz Ansari and Paul Scheer are writers, actors, and executive producers in the MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant.
He has been a sketch character actor on shows such as Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Upright Citizens Brigade. Huebel was also nominated for an Emmy award for his work as a producer for Michael Moore's Bravo series The Awful Truth and also produced for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Huebel is noted for his appearance as a panelist on the VH1 series Best Week Ever, his NetZero "Candidate Zero" campaign during the 2004 election, and his "Inconsiderate Cell Phone Man" character, shown at movie theatres before showtime.
He also appeared on the HBO television series Curb Your Enthusiasm as well as Fox's Arrested Development. He is the comedy partner of Rob Riggle, a comedian he worked with in the improvisational comedy troupe Respecto Montalban.
Question: Does comedy offer a unique angle on race?
Rob Huebel: I think race is something that comedy can definitely approach in a funny way and you can say, you know, certain things about the racial situation in our country. I think it's just, like, it's really hard. You can definitely do it but you can't do it haphazardly, you know? You really have to, like, think about what you're saying and I think that's just the way audiences are. I think people are really sensitive to that and whether or not that's right or wrong, I don't know. I mean, the fact that people are so sensitive to racial issues. I don't know if that's cool.
Question: Does Michael Richards’ outburst make it harder?
Rob Huebel: Yeah. I mean, if people, like, you know, Michael Richards and the whole, like, Mel Gibson thing and, like, Dog, the Bounty Hunter, that, to me, is, like, hilarious. What's funny, to me, about that is that then those guys have to do this kind of standard apology routine where they go into, like, rehab and then they go on, like, Larry King and then they start crying and, you know, all that stuff, and then they'll go on, like, Letterman and just-- there will be, like, a stone cold audience reception, you know, and there's just this sort of, like, standard protocol thing of, like, when you fuck up dealing with, like, you know, something racial like that and all of a sudden it comes out that you said something really racist then these guys all do the same thing. So that, to me, is, you know, hilarious. We actually did a sketch about that this year where Paul and Aziz, their character is the Illusionators, they do this magic trick and it ends up being really racist and they then do the standard thing that those guys do, you know? They just go on talk shows and do the standard apology and, in this sketch, they try to apologize to every black person in the country, like, they go down to the capital and they sit there with this huge stack of papers and they just read out every name, starting with the As and the joke is that they only got through to As, you know? It just took too long so they couldn't do it. So then what they do is they get another magician to join the group and just to appear that they're not racist, they hire a black guy and it's Michael K. Williams from The Wire, he plays Omar in The Wire, and, you know, of course he realizes that, okay, I'm just being used to be a magician because I'm black and you guys are trying to look like you're not racist. So, yeah, I mean, that was kind of us trying to, sort of, poke fun at, like, what these guys actually do, you know? Like Dog, The Bounty Hunter, come on. Like, you're busted. You're racist. Call it what you want but you're busted.
Recorded On: 4/1/08
Michael Richards' outburst has made it harder for comedians to tackle race through comedy, Huebel says.
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