Does comedy offer a unique angle on race?

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.

Related Articles

Why the world needs death to prosper

Scientists have developed new ways of understanding how the biological forces of death drive important life processes.

Surprising Science
  • Researchers have found new ways on how decomposing plants and animals contribute to the life cycle.
  • After a freak mass herd death of 300 reindeer, scientists were able to study a wide range of the decomposition processes.
  • Promoting the necrobiome research will open up new areas of inquiry and even commerce.
Keep reading Show less

Why birds fly south for the winter—and more about bird migration

What do we see from watching birds move across the country?

E. Fleischer
Surprising Science
  • A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
  • The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
  • Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
Keep reading Show less

How does alcohol affect your brain?

Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.

(Photo by Angie Garrett/Wikimedia Commons)
Mind & Brain
  • Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
  • Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
  • Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
Keep reading Show less