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Colbert's black friend and his white writers
January 8, 2007 2:01 PM   Subscribe

"My Shtick? Being Black." You probably know Jordan Carlos from his role on The Colbert Report. Like me, you may not have known he didn't actually work there: "'Saturday Night Live' has no black writers. 'The Daily Show' also doesn't have any, and neither does 'The Colbert Report,' a show on which I've played Stephen Colbert's black friend 'Alan,' a member of the staff. That's right. 'The Colbert Report' had to hire an actor to play a black person who works on the show." (via Oliver Willis)
posted by XQUZYPHYR (180 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
So what?
posted by Pastabagel at 2:07 PM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sour grapes? [NOT RACIST!]

Seriously. His friend is a producer on the show. Perhaps his comedy writing - much like his WaPo article - isn't all that great?
posted by NationalKato at 2:09 PM on January 8, 2007


Next, you'll be telling me that Ed Sullivan didn't really have a little Italian mouse buddy.
posted by yhbc at 2:10 PM on January 8, 2007


An actor on TV? I've never heard of such a thing!
posted by jjb at 2:10 PM on January 8, 2007


Blacks are the ones with the natural sense of rythm, you know, they're not the ones with the funnay, you know -- it's the Jews who have the funnay.
posted by matteo at 2:11 PM on January 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


I battle it out for black roles with black men in auditions conducted strictly by white people. White people who look you over and examine your body, your hair, your teeth. No, the casting director didn't enslave my ancestors, but it doesn't mean you can't be aware that black people don't take too kindly to close inspection of their bodies by white eyes.

Interesting points.
posted by bardic at 2:11 PM on January 8, 2007


I've seen this guy on this stupid show called "My Coolest Years". He comes off as a total douche. I hate it how white people excuse every job that they don't get on affirmative action, and I think that this guy may be doing the same thing in reverse. Maybe funny shows don't want to hire him because he isn't funny.

Also, I thought that comparing auditions to slave markets was disgusting and moronic.
posted by ND¢ at 2:13 PM on January 8, 2007


Ok, not a bad column, but this time maybe a little more like Chris Rock?
posted by billysumday at 2:15 PM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, the casting director didn't enslave my ancestors, but it doesn't mean you can't be aware that black people don't take too kindly to close inspection of their bodies by white eyes.

This person voluntarily chose to be an actor, which shockingly involves being scrutinized and judged on your physical appearance.

If you don't like being inspected, maybe take a job where your physical appearance doesn't matter?
posted by Pastabagel at 2:15 PM on January 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


that is an interesting point...but i wonder...do these white people examine and scrutinize white, asian, latino actors as well? I would guess 'Yes' as they are auditioning to be ACTORS...so their look is an important role in casting..
I dunno, that whole paragraph sort of stinks like a stripper complaining that people were looking at her breasts or his ass ....if you are auditioning for a job in which you are going to be presenting your face , body , etc to a group for their approval (in one form or another) , you have to accept scrutiny. Or, say, get a different job. Like maybe voice acting.
posted by das_2099 at 2:16 PM on January 8, 2007


So what?

So read the article. It's a good piece on the lack of minorities in entertainment media, something that is upsettingly prevalent even in shows that are bulwarks of liberal and progressive commentary. Carlos explains "so what" pretty well, I think; that's why I posted it. Jeez.

I fail to see how this reeks of one guy complaining that he didn't get a job somewhere. There's an ongoing issue in lack of minorites in front of the camera; there are even staggeringly less behind it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:17 PM on January 8, 2007


In other news, Paul Dinello and David Cross are not really named "Tad," and "Russ," respectively.

That's right. "The Colbert Report" had to hire an actor to play a black person who works on the show.
posted by Partial Law at 2:17 PM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Casting directors scrutinize everybody. That's their job.
posted by NationalKato at 2:18 PM on January 8, 2007


If you don't like being inspected, maybe take a job where your physical appearance doesn't matter?

You mean, like maybe being a writer for the show instead?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:19 PM on January 8, 2007


XQUZYPHYR, I don't think anyone denies there needs to be more people of color working in front of and behind the major entertainment mediums. We just wish you had chosen a better spokesperson for your post.
posted by NationalKato at 2:20 PM on January 8, 2007


You mean, like maybe being a writer for the show instead?

Exactly! I mean, it only follows that since he was on the show, he should be able to write for the show. This is showbiz 101, people.
posted by billysumday at 2:21 PM on January 8, 2007


which shockingly involves being scrutinized

scrutinized is OK, it was all the time they frisked him looking for crack that kinda bugged him
posted by matteo at 2:22 PM on January 8, 2007


SNL doesn't have any writers that are actually funny. That's probably a much more serious problem.
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on January 8, 2007 [6 favorites]


I agree that there are far too many cases of talented people being denied jobs in entertainment, and many other fields, because they happen to be minorities. I just don't think that this is one of them. I think that this is an individual that is not at all talented (based on my admittedly limited exposure to him) that may be under the impression that he is being denied opportunities because of his race, when he is actually being denied opportunities because he sucks.
posted by ND¢ at 2:25 PM on January 8, 2007


under the impression that he is being denied opportunities because of his race, when he is actually being denied opportunities because he sucks.

Well, to be fair, he did make a joke about how, since he's black and dresses nicely, people think he's gay - I'd imagine you'd be hard pressed to find a writer for the Daily Show that could top that level of edgy, topical humor. Richard Pryor eat your heart out!!
posted by billysumday at 2:27 PM on January 8, 2007


XQUZYPHYR, I don't think anyone denies there needs to be more people of color working in front of and behind the major entertainment mediums. We just wish you had chosen a better spokesperson for your post.
posted by NationalKato at 5:20 PM EST on January 8


Hold on. The post is actually suggesting and implying that there is something wrong if every program on television doesn't have a black actor or writer. Because there are a lot of shows with people of color (which includes hispanics) as writers or actors.

SNL doesn't have any writers that are actually funny. That's probably a much more serious problem.
posted by Artw at 5:24 PM EST on January 8


This guy should apply over there, he'd fit right in.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:28 PM on January 8, 2007


ND¢: he is being denied opportunities because of his race

From the article: My parents provided us with a pretty great post-Civil Rights-era upbringing: private school, private lessons, ski trips and Ivy League colleges.

Seems to me he's been provided with lots of opportunity. Perhaps he just lacks what it takes?
posted by NationalKato at 2:29 PM on January 8, 2007


Interesting points.

No. Not really. It's that way for ANY cattle call. White. Black. Male. Female. You are judged as a type and as meat.

On preview - nationalkato nailed it.

It's a good piece on the lack of minorities in entertainment media, something that is upsettingly prevalent

No it it's not. If anything black people are OVER (in proportion to the national population) represented in entertainment media. way over represented. Think about it. Perhaps in terms of the share of LEADING acting roles. Well. Kind of. Some of the biggest draws and highest paid actors in the industry right now are black.

Now. If you were to argue blacks are under represented in terms of executive and studio management, directorial and producing staff? Yes. I would certainly agree. And a much more "real" problem.
posted by tkchrist at 2:31 PM on January 8, 2007


I think I've found the problem.YouTube
posted by kickingtheground at 2:34 PM on January 8, 2007


It's a good piece on the lack of minorities in entertainment media.

You've obviously never been to a commercial audition. A good friend of mine is an actor and the "black guys who act white" (you know what I'm talking about, let's not derail) get more work than anyone in the biz (not including celebrities).
posted by dhammond at 2:35 PM on January 8, 2007


Partial Law - It's not exactly the same thing. While Cross plays a guest on the show that represents a political extreme you wouldn't actually see on the show, the shtick behind Jordan Carlos' Alan is that he is the only black person writing for the show, and thereby the only candidate for being Colbert's black friend.

Part of the joke is that Colbert's show lacks minorities. The reality is that Colbert's show lacks minorities.
posted by elr at 2:36 PM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


kickingtheground - OMG. That was AWFUL. Yup. I think we found his "issue". He is in fact a member of a majority: Not funny comedians.
posted by tkchrist at 2:39 PM on January 8, 2007


The post is actually suggesting and implying that there is something wrong if every program on television doesn't have a black actor or writer.

Excuse me? It most certainly is not. I already explained why this is an interesting issue given the nature of the shows Carlos specified. If you think he's a shitty writer/actor/person in general, so be it, but the condescending attitude here at some perceived "oh you're so PC" statement I didn't make is aggravating.

I never said "every program," nor did I say Carlos specifically deserves to be hired anywhere. I posted that I find it interesting and in some way upsetting that the most significant social commentary shows for left-leaning people- shows that often attack right-wing Eurocentric mores- do not have a single minority on their writing staff (or, apparently in the case of Colbert, on the entire staff). To many, this apparently isn't a problem, since after all, black people are hired elsewhere.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:39 PM on January 8, 2007


Didn't Studio 60 hire a black writer just a few months ago?
posted by bhouston at 2:39 PM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought that comparing auditions to slave markets was disgusting and moronic.

He explicitly didn't do this.

Look, this is a guy giving his perspective on the TV industry. I found it interesting and worth a glance. "Blackness" is a signifier more often defined and used by whites than by blacks themselves, in addition to an actual skin-tone. Has been for centuries in America.

Should a woman who wants to be in Playboy complain that a photographer told her to lose some weight and get bigger boobs? Probably not. I think his (if anything, entirely obvious) point is that there's a hell of a lot of cognitive dissonance in (mostly) white writers knowing more about, or at least getting paid, to present "blackness" to people on the tube instead of, ya know, actual black people.

Cf. Hollywood Shuffle.
posted by bardic at 2:43 PM on January 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


(And FWIW, this guy probably should have kept his day job in light of that clip. But I think his point is fairly well made.)
posted by bardic at 2:46 PM on January 8, 2007


Heh. I was just thinking thst this was exactly the kind of serious issue that Studio 60 could deal with in a very sensitive and unfunny way while the entire world completely ignores it...
posted by Artw at 2:47 PM on January 8, 2007


XQUZYPHYR: Are you suggesting that because "the most significant social commentary shows for left-leaning people - shows that often attack right-wing Eurocentric mores - do not have a single minority on the writing staff", that other shows with minorities on their staff should fire them in order to become more socially significant?! Because that is really racist of you.
posted by billysumday at 2:48 PM on January 8, 2007


I'd have preferred it if they got one of the honkeys to do it in blackface.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:50 PM on January 8, 2007


WTF? Is this dude for real? I edit commercials for a living and I've sat with creative directors for 10 hours straight watching the same sixty takes of a girl eating a single chip over and over, finding something minutely wrong with every take.

I can tell you right now ad execs fixate on physical appearance REGARDLESS OF COLOR.

If this guy can't deal with that he needs to find a new job.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:50 PM on January 8, 2007


Umm, they're the most significant because they're the most-watched and most-discussed in the media, and you're either making a bad joke or are a lunatic.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:50 PM on January 8, 2007


billysumday writes Are you suggesting that because "the most significant social commentary shows for left-leaning people - shows that often attack right-wing Eurocentric mores - do not have a single minority on the writing staff", that other shows with minorities on their staff should fire them in order to become more socially significant?! Because that is really racist of you.

Wtf are you talking about?
posted by bardic at 2:52 PM on January 8, 2007


Allan's not real?? My life is shattered!

Also, anyone see the Tim Meddows "Black republican" bits on Colbert Lately? Helarious. Also I had no idea he was still alive.
posted by delmoi at 2:55 PM on January 8, 2007


I think his (if anything, entirely obvious) point is that there's a hell of a lot of cognitive dissonance in (mostly) white writers knowing more about, or at least getting paid, to present "blackness" to people on the tube instead of, ya know, actual black people.

Ok. So what IS "blackness"?

What is "whiteness"?

And can any one person effectively generalize a "_______ ness" from merely their own experiences with "_______ ness".

Shakespeare wrote what are recognized as complete female characters and did not have a vagina. As far as I know Heinlein wasn't a Martian. Well. you get the point.
posted by tkchrist at 2:55 PM on January 8, 2007


Ok. The Colbert Report doesn't have a single black person (or minority?) on its writing staff of nine people.
...

For the sake of an episode, they had a black actor play a member of the show's staff.
...

Ok. And?

I guess I just don't see where this is going...
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 2:55 PM on January 8, 2007


I can tell you right now ad execs fixate on physical appearance REGARDLESS OF COLOR.

I think this misses his point. Making an ad featuring attractive people to sell chips is different than white writers finding the right kind of black person to fulfill their version of "blackness."
posted by bardic at 2:57 PM on January 8, 2007


The sooner white people and black people have more sex with each other, the better.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:58 PM on January 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


elr, fair enough. Cross was a bad example, and I should have just gone with Dinello. I stand by Dinello, though, as he plays "Tad," the meek, white building manager that Colbert abuses and mistreats. Another example would be "Bobby the stage manager." I think he's actually played by a writer, but if we're supposed to be shocked that the show hires people to play employees on-air, I'm not buying it.
posted by Partial Law at 2:59 PM on January 8, 2007


Can we please round up all the people who do identity comedy and just FEED THEM INTO A CHIPPER ALREADY?
posted by MaxVonCretin at 3:04 PM on January 8, 2007


Counterexample: MAD TV.
posted by boo_radley at 3:04 PM on January 8, 2007


Didn't Studio 60 hire a black writer just a few months ago?
posted by bhouston at 10:39 PM GMT
IIRC half the writing staff are black on that show.
posted by genghis at 3:06 PM on January 8, 2007


No, the casting director didn't enslave my ancestors, but it doesn't mean you can't be aware that black people don't take too kindly to close inspection of their bodies by white eyes.

Regardless of whether I've missed his overall point in the preceding X paragraphs, that sentence is fucking stupid.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:06 PM on January 8, 2007


And he blew yet another opportunity by turning in one of the most pitiful and unfunny things I've ever read.

"I get to joke about how, being black, people think I'm gay because my clothes fit -- and the audience just eats this up because it's so true."

Wow! Bet he just slays the crowd with that one.
posted by Brown Jenkin at 3:08 PM on January 8, 2007


Ok. So what IS "blackness"?

A loaded question obviously, but off the top of my head and re-reading the original article again, and based on the fact that I had a very lazy weekend, I saw a few mintues of Ferris Bueller's Day Off yesterday switching around during the playoff games. There's a scene half-way through where Ferris gets up on the float and starts lip-synching to the Beatles' version of "Twist and Shout." Cheesy 80's hilarity ensues, but ya know, I loved this movie when I was younger. But I'd forgotten something -- in the montage of cuts between Ferris and his gf and the citizens of Chicago smiling and dancing, there's the recurring scene of about 15 black people dancing in perfect unision on a flight of stairs, wearing similar outfits. Thing is, they aren't part of the parade -- they're framed as being "naturally" inclined to burst into syncopated dancing and smiling and so on. That's probably a longer answer than you're looking for, but you're being disingenuous in throwing a complicated issue in my face like that and if you don't realize that, you should tkchrist.

Is John Hughes a racist? I really don't think so. But he is, like many people in the entertainment industry, completely oblivious to the fact that even today (although perhaps less so than 20 years ago) "blackness" is often created and shaped by a white normative vision than it is on some reality inherent in actual black people.

And can any one person effectively generalize a "_______ ness" from merely their own experiences with "_______ ness".

If by effectively you mean "make lots of money," than yes, it happens all the time. If by effectively you mean "fairly," then no.

And this certainly isn't limited to blacks and whites, but in America the heights of myopia regarding these things is pretty staggering. And often amusing and disturbing at the same time.
posted by bardic at 3:09 PM on January 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


Okay, let me try it in a different way:

Put aside, if you can for just a moment, your opinion of Carlos' acting and/or writing ability. Please. Just try. Not consider the reality of the scenario he pointed out:

Colbert had a running gag where he sought out a "black friend." In fact, at one point, he did a bit where he "dumped" Carlos' character for being left-wing and then began a nationwide "search for my new black friend." He read application letters and discussed potential candidates on the show.

The reason he did this, of course, was becasue it was satire. He plays an ignorant right-wing pundit, and the idea that he needed to "audition" people to be his token minority friend was meant to be perceived as completely absurd. And yet, in reality, this is exactly what happened. The all-white staff of the show held auditions to find their perfect fit for someone to play the absurd notion of a hand-picked black associate.

If you do not find that upsetting or worthy of discussion, at least tell you me see the irony in that. Please.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:10 PM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


The sooner white people and black people have more sex with each other, the better.

I volunteer myself for this Brandon Blatcher. Make it so. (And throw in some Asians and Hispanics please.)
posted by bardic at 3:10 PM on January 8, 2007


I see the irony in it. I don't see the justification for the rest of his claims.
posted by Partial Law at 3:13 PM on January 8, 2007


OK, I haven't seen Dinello on the show. Or I have and didn't realize it. I don't have cable and have only recently become aware of him through Strangers With Candy.

I still think the joke is a little repellant in that in real life, the Colbert Report is actually slightly more segregated than in the bit.

(as far as the show, that is. It's more than likely that the real Stephen Colbert has black friends, and kind of annoying that I have to add this to assure you that I know the difference between Stephen Colbert (actor) and Stephen Colbert (character)

....
[Not Racist]
posted by elr at 3:13 PM on January 8, 2007


If you do not find that upsetting or worthy of discussion, at least tell you me see the irony in that.

"Upsetting" is not the word I'd use. "Telling" is.
posted by bardic at 3:13 PM on January 8, 2007


Uh, Mr. Colbert doesn't see color. People just tell him he's white. No doubt that Mr. Carlos is just such a phenomenal actor that he was able to convince Mr. Colbert that he, Jordan Carlos, was actually black.

Perhaps it was that method acting approach, born of the experience of actually being black*, that gave him a leg up in auditions to be Mr. Colbert's friend?

*Or at least repeatedly told so.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:14 PM on January 8, 2007


Somewhat relevant: State of Blacks on TV, from last August.
posted by mediareport at 3:15 PM on January 8, 2007


Err... XQUZYPHYR said it better.
posted by elr at 3:17 PM on January 8, 2007


So this guy comes from upper-middle-class landed gentry, went to private schools and then to an Ivy League university, had a job in advertising making "great money", had the freedom to pursue his dream instead, and now finds the interview process for his new career upsetting because it reminds him of slavery (but only in a historical sense of course).

Is there a word for a black guy who acts like a white guy acting like a black guy?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:19 PM on January 8, 2007


The sooner white people and black people have more sex with each other, the better.

But that would involve white people examining black people's body, hair, teeth and other assorted anatomy... not only with their eyes but also with their hands, tongues and yet other assorted anatomies!
posted by CKmtl at 3:20 PM on January 8, 2007


the recurring scene of about 15 black people dancing in perfect unision on a flight of stairs, wearing similar outfits.

That's a hilarious example, bardic.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:21 PM on January 8, 2007


Hey everyone, my name's Joe. Some crazy bald white motherfucker called himself the Straightener dragged me in off the street and paid me a couple bucks to type this. He said it was some kind of inside joke and that you all would get it.
posted by The Straightener at 3:21 PM on January 8, 2007


I'd have preferred it if they got one of the honkeys to do it in blackface.

You know, I enjoy Dave Chapelle doing whiteface waaaaaay more than I should do, considering I've always maintained that he'd be funnier if he did less lazy race based stuff.
posted by Artw at 3:23 PM on January 8, 2007


Studio 60 did hire a black writer a while back and it is oddly relevant. The whole point of the show was D.L. Hughley guilting/convincing Matthew Perry's character to go and give this "great" young comic a look-see.

After much angst and witty dialogue, they do go to have a look at the young fellow, only to find that he sucked. He is the sterotypical black comic that even this guy is joking about making jokes about.

I think that right there is the problem. It's hard to find a good white comedian and there are a crapload of them. A good black comedian is bound to be just as difficult to find and actually even more so because there are less black comedians trying. Notice if you will however, that many winners and runners up on that "Last Comic Standing" show have been black...and genuinely funny.

Also, on preview, bardic, have you never been to a step show? I went to a school with a strong black history and heritage and I've got to say, even though our football team sucked, the dance squad, cheerleaders and flag corps seemed to be pretty good. I personally believe that some cultures are just more open to expressing their postiive feelings with dancing or singing. Me, I prefer smiling politely and trying not to make eye contact.
posted by BeReasonable at 3:23 PM on January 8, 2007


Amazing what hoops people will jump through to avoid confronting the real issue here, which has nothing to do with Mr. Carlos's comedic talent.

We broached the subject of black correspondents. He told me that they "tried a black guy once, but it didn't work out."

If you don't see what's wrong with this picture, or what's wrong with the lack of black writers, if you think it's all about trying to be PC... Well, I don't know what to tell you. I grew up listening to people like you mock the idea of black quarterbacks, of black baseball managers, of black opera singers playing "white" characters, you name it. Black people, and other minorities, should obviously Know Their Place, and the rest of us should just not worry, be happy.

Thanks for the post, XQUZYPHYR.
posted by languagehat at 3:30 PM on January 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


From the article: My parents provided us with a pretty great post-Civil Rights-era upbringing: private school, private lessons, ski trips and Ivy League colleges.

Seems to me he's been provided with lots of opportunity. Perhaps he just lacks what it takes?


Seems to me getting a gig on the Colbert Show, getting into Ivy league schools, and writing articles for the Washington Post (versus comments on a community weblog) illustrates whether not he has what it takes.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 3:31 PM on January 8, 2007


the colbert thing is a funny irony of irony's though.
posted by nola at 3:33 PM on January 8, 2007


BeReasonable, I see where you're going, but I'd argue that the culture around step-shows is "home-grown," so to speak. The point in this article, and that I'm trying to make generally, is that lots of American popular culture going back to, say, Blackface Minstrelsy, is about an empowered group presenting a minority group not as they are, but as they wish they would be (Sambo, shuckin-n-jivin', "Yes suh Massah!," all that crap). I don't know a lot about step-shows, but the dynamics are completely different as far as I can tell.

So let me try a thought experiment: Have you ever been to an Oktoberfest? I personally believe that some cultures are just more open to expressing their postive feelings with yodeling and wearing Lederhosen.

Kind of silly, no? Just as silly as extrapolating a genetic tendency from step-shows.

And btw, I might be one of the few people who though Spike Lee's "Bamboozled" was pretty brilliant, albeit flawed.
posted by bardic at 3:34 PM on January 8, 2007


On second thoughts the guy is exactly right. I blame The Jews.
posted by Artw at 3:39 PM on January 8, 2007


We broached the subject of black correspondents. He told me that they "tried a black guy once, but it didn't work out."

In response to a question about whether or not there have been black writers on a show, it doesn't seem unreasonable to mention that you had a black writer once, but it didn't work out with him. The assumption that there is an additional "and so we never hired a black writer again, because we think it makes sense to generalize from that one experience" seems like a pretty big stretch.
posted by teleskiving at 3:51 PM on January 8, 2007


Hey, last time Comedy Central hired a black guy, he disappeared after signing his big contract.

THAT'S RIGHT, DAVE CHAPPELLE, YOU RUINED IT FOR ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:07 PM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


'Saturday Night Live' has no black writers."

I think JB Smoove would disagree. (Yes, I picked the blackest sounding name on the list and GoogleImaged him. Don't judge me.)
posted by ColdChef at 4:08 PM on January 8, 2007


Smoove B?

And I'm glad someone mentioned Chappelle (who is, IMO, not only a brilliant comic, but one of the few guys since Pryor who can "do" race in America (Chris Rock always goes for the low-hanging comedic fruit in comparison)). His breakdown occurred, from my understanding, when he noticed one particular white guy laughing way too hard for Chappelle's taste at one of his own sketches about black people.

Which makes me respect him even more, because he knows he's playing with fire, and realizes there are consequences for doing satire in a culture filled with far too many people who will never "get it."
posted by bardic at 4:18 PM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not a big stretch at all. The phrase "it didn't work out" was used and this phrase is not relevant to the conversation. The only reason you'd actually say this within the specified context is if you have made the assumption that the show is not a good fit for black writers. Which is racist.

also, the word "tried" is loaded with connotation. You "try" commodities.

If the phrase was "We had one black writer on the show some time ago, but we don't have any working for us now.", it would have conveyed the required information.

Personally I find it shaming that this thread contains so many whiny "It's not racist, black people are so sensitive." type comments and spends so little time trying to work out what the guy is saying.

"But he's not funny."
For fucks sake. What happened to empathy.
posted by seanyboy at 4:19 PM on January 8, 2007


So... is he mad at the Colbert Report?

They had a funny on-going bit they hired him for... was he pissed they didn't make him a writer?

Amy Poehler was the crazy sister on Conan way back in the day... she wasn't a writer....

How did he even get to write an op-ed for WaPo?... He seems like just another D-list NYC comic.
posted by DougieZero1982 at 4:28 PM on January 8, 2007


Metafilter: I had hoped to parlay it into a job; instead I got a lot of MySpace "friends."
posted by mrgrimm at 4:28 PM on January 8, 2007


Just want to note something: On Studio 60, a show I was looking forward to but am horribly disappointed by, the person making value judgments about the admittedly bad "white people do this, black people do this" comedian was played by DL Hughley. Hughley basically made his name doing that very same kind of comedy, and which way too many black comedians do because it's "safe".
posted by owillis at 4:29 PM on January 8, 2007


Do you have any asian programmers working here?
No, we tried one once and it didn't work out.

Doesn't sound so hot to me. I'm not getting where you guys are thinking the guy is angry (not all black folks are "angry") but it also doesn't strike me as something making sense either. I love the Daily Show, but it's a little odd that the only current black correspondent only ever comes on to talk about black-related things. He's funny, but still.
posted by owillis at 4:31 PM on January 8, 2007


Well, I long ago noted the irony. Shows that make fun of the East Coast Establishment are pretty much stocked with the same. The original SNL was notoriously both very white and very Boys Club. Nothing seems to have changed much on most satire shows.
posted by NorthernLite at 4:32 PM on January 8, 2007


His Blog would indicate he also has a problem with, not being able to use 'the N-Word', Mos Def, and non-profit organization The Links among others.
posted by arruns at 4:37 PM on January 8, 2007


Wait, he walked away from being a successful copywriter in New York.

May I please slap him for every student I've had that never made it into anything but direct mail and for every "How to get minorities involved in advertising" conference I've had to sit through?
posted by Gucky at 4:44 PM on January 8, 2007


His Blog would indicate ...

3-Month CalendarXML
No events available.


Tough career choice. I'd be curious to hear his insights about advertising.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:46 PM on January 8, 2007


I am pretty shocked how everyone is ignoring the blatant fact that "liberal" shows, which mock others for casual racism and essentializing race, themselves are guilty of what they mock. As much as white people like to feel they "get" race and can understand the experience of minorities, they derive this assurance mostly from white representations of blackness. I am not a fan of identity politics, especially the kind that rose to prominence in the 1980's, but for Christ sake, very few of you seem to think it is a problem that black writers are underrepresented in television. It is not that white people should not write for or about blacks, but that every once in awhile it may be nice to have a black person write for or about black people (or anyone). Instead, many seem to avoid the issue by taking digs at the writer. Don't shoot the messenger.
posted by Falconetti at 4:55 PM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


The phrase "it didn't work out" was used and this phrase is not relevant to the conversation. The only reason you'd actually say this within the specified context is if you have made the assumption that the show is not a good fit for black writers. Which is racist.

No, you might also use the phrase as a passive-aggressive joke if you were a writer at a "mixer" who was annoyed at being "cornered" by a stranger "doing [his] best to get the inside track on a possible actor/writer gig", who then "broached the subject of black correspondents."

It might not be a very funny joke, but then neither is "being black, people think I'm gay because my clothes fit ."
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:00 PM on January 8, 2007


at least tell you me see the irony in that. Please.

Oh. Certainly. But I don't see racism. Even though people really really want there to be a big bad racist in this story somewhere. There isn't.
posted by tkchrist at 5:02 PM on January 8, 2007


Hey everyone, my name's Joe. Some crazy bald white motherfucker called himself the Straightener dragged me in off the street and paid me a couple bucks to type this. He said it was some kind of inside joke and that you all would get it.
posted by The Straightener at 3:21 PM


OK, Straightener, now I figured it out: You shot that boxer in Philly (or had PeterMcDermott do it, I haven't worked out which yet), and framed Joey Jihad for the murder, and put together that 'tough-guy-on-the-mean-streets-of-Philly' story to clear the way for your book deal and McDermott's record contract. You were in on it together from the beginning. And this "Joe"? What is he, your inside guy at MeFi? Getaway-car driver? Go on Straightener, spill the beans.

Maybe they'll go light on you in prison and give you a toupee, you crazy bald white motherfucker.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:04 PM on January 8, 2007


Even though people really really want there to be a big bad racist in this story somewhere.

Who? Where?
posted by bardic at 5:05 PM on January 8, 2007


bardic writes: So let me try a thought experiment: Have you ever been to an Oktoberfest? I personally believe that some cultures are just more open to expressing their postive feelings with yodeling and wearing Lederhosen. Kind of silly, no? Just as silly as extrapolating a genetic tendency from step-shows.

Point well taken. And to even further the point (point being the ultimate folly of such stereotyping), consider that yodeling, which bardic uses in his hypothetical example as the archetypical whitey-whitest of musical traditions, is actually a much favored technique among pygmies, Zimbabwean mbira-playing singers, black jazz singer Leon Thomas, etc.

*makes note to self: do FPP on yodeling*
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:22 PM on January 8, 2007


It is not that white people should not write for or about blacks, but that every once in awhile it may be nice to have a black person write for or about black people (or anyone).

Why? I'm not being faceceious. I seriously want to know why? Sure it sounds nice and fair and all that. But think about what you're saying.

Because it SEEMS then what you inevitably end up with is hiring people BECAUSE of their race. And NOT talent.

Are you speaking of television in general or comedy specificly?

Again what measure do we have of the actual numbers of black people interested and skilled at writing for television that are NOT getting jobs?

I could make a helluva case for 10x that many WASPs wanting jobs in comedy and not getting them. IOW gentiles being grossly under-represented in Comedy writing when compared to the number of Jewish writers who score jobs in the industry. But just looking at individual cases - especially in comedy - is misleading.

I have a very close friend who is a successful TV comedy writer (several in fact). He started during the writers strike in the late eighties and got on with Arsenio Hall. He was the ONLY white guy.

The fact is in the Business (and I do know something about the business of the entertainment industry) most WASPy guys go into directorial, producing and executive roles. Where most of the Jewish guys went into performing and writing.

So. If you want a more diverse creative staff - if that is what SERVES the creative product best - then you need a diverse executive staff.

But you guys it is possible diversity does NOT serve the creative product in each and every case.
posted by tkchrist at 5:24 PM on January 8, 2007


Kind of silly, no? Just as silly as extrapolating a genetic tendency from step-shows.

Who mentioned genetics? Cultural tendencies do not equal genes.
posted by tkchrist at 5:26 PM on January 8, 2007


"I have a very close friend who is a successful TV comedy writer (several in fact)."

It's good to see that the multiple-personality demographic is well-represented in comedy writing.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:28 PM on January 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Where most of the Jewish guys went into performing and writing.

Well, sure, everybody knows Jews are natural-born performers. No wait, wasn't that black people? I'm confused now...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:28 PM on January 8, 2007


I battle it out for black roles with black men in auditions conducted strictly by white people. White people who look you over and examine your body, your hair, your teeth. No, the casting director didn't enslave my ancestors, but it doesn't mean you can't be aware that black people don't take too kindly to close inspection of their bodies by white eyes.

Unlike all the other auditions where you need only submit an essay on the essential nature of your character, and they hire you based on how noble you are?


"So... what do you call a black guy flying a plane?"
"Err... um... I don't.... Um..."
"A pilot, you racist."
posted by tomble at 5:30 PM on January 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


"So... what do you call a black guy flying a plane?"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:34 PM on January 8, 2007


The article is startlingly lacking in, er, facts. From it, we learn little about the hiring practices and processes for the Daily Show or the Colbert Report. We don't even know if the fellow even applied for the job. The tone of the article and his phrasing makes it seem as if he was expecting to be handed such a job (he hoped that when his photo was snapped it would "parlay" into a wiritng job).
Given the context of his conversation with an unnamed Daily Show writer at a party where there was alcohol present, I don't know if we ought to be taking one isolated quote seriously. How did Carlos phrase his queries regarding TDS and black writers? Was the Daily Show Writer drunk, high, or is he normally a jerk? We know none of these things, and with so little evidence. it's not fair to make a judgement call.
We do know Carlos is very selective with his facts: as of this season TDS and the Colbert Report and SNL don't have black writers, but 2 of the three have in the very recent past.


So, he may have a point, but the jury's out for me -- the entire op-ed centers arounf the appeal to emotion based on the possibly irony of Colbert-the-man's hiring practices as opposed to Colbert-the-character's hiring practices.

It is entirely possible that neither show has yet found a black writer who shares their sense of humor. Such chemsitry is essential for the show to work well.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:43 PM on January 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's good to see that the multiple-personality demographic is well-represented in comedy writing.

Yeah, problem is, though, they're terribly underrepresented in directorial, producing and executive roles. And that has to change.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:47 PM on January 8, 2007


Well, sure, everybody knows Jews are natural-born performers.

Your thinking accountants. It's the small hands.
posted by tkchrist at 5:48 PM on January 8, 2007


Why? I'm not being faceceious. I seriously want to know why? Sure it sounds nice and fair and all that. But think about what you're saying.

Black experience is often represented through a white lens. White people cannot, obviously, fully know what is like to be black. I'm not advocating hiring writers based on their skin color but because they may be able to provide insights that others can't and that will be uselful for comedy or storytelling. Obviously they have to be talented as well. If the data demonstrates that there is a dearth of talented black writers, then my point is moot, but I don't think anyone has such information or whether such information is even knowable.
posted by Falconetti at 5:53 PM on January 8, 2007


It's good to see that the multiple-personality demographic is well-represented in comedy writing.

Keep your day job.

I meant to say "several friends who are TV comedy writers", smart guy. And you would know thier work, too. Like it? Who knows.

TV Comedy writing is not a career I recommend given the current Reality TV trend decimating Sit Com writing jobs in the business.

I gave comedy writing and stand-up a shot. I did ok in both. Stand up at least got me laid.

The few bits I did got produced for a local TV show. I even got nominated for a local Emmy. I think I made a grand total of $75. So. Your talking to a pro here.

I did work in the movie business for a few years in Art Department and as a Grip. I have some familiarity of the how the Entertainment biz works.
posted by tkchrist at 5:56 PM on January 8, 2007


Obviously they have to be talented as well. If the data demonstrates that there is a dearth of talented black writers, then my point is moot, but I don't think anyone has such information or whether such information is even knowable.

Exactly.
posted by tkchrist at 5:58 PM on January 8, 2007


It's the difference between a black family as seen on any of the tween sitcoms Disney Channel runs and the black family in the animated series, also on Disney, The Proud Family. One comes across as generic family who happens to be black, while the other - the animated one - comes across with a black sensibility without being all in your face with how black they are.

I watch Disney Channel too much for someone my age too.
posted by owillis at 6:17 PM on January 8, 2007


Falconetti I am pretty shocked how everyone is ignoring the blatant fact that "liberal" shows, which mock others for casual racism and essentializing race, themselves are guilty of what they mock...

...few of you seem to think it is a problem that black writers are underrepresented in television. It is not that white people should not write for or about blacks, but that every once in awhile it may be nice to have a black person write for or about black people (or anyone). Instead, many seem to avoid the issue by taking digs at the writer. Don't shoot the messenger.


Oh, please. We can all agree that black writers are underrepresented in proportion to their population, or else roughly 13% of writers would be black. For the Colbert report's writing staff of 9 that means they should have one black person on staff, all things being equal.

Since this is not the case there seems to be 3 obvious reasons why all things are not equal:

1.) The proportion of black writers applying for the job openings happen to be lower then 13% of the total number of writers applying, in which case the proportion of black applicants doesn't match the ratio of black people in the general population.

2.) The talent level of the single best black applicant for a given job opening was lower then the talent level of the single best non-black applicant. Since these can be terribly competitive fields where it's really, really hard to find genuinely brilliant white writers, then even the slightest deviance between the average talent level of black and white applicants would radically reduce the number of black writers hired.

3.) The person or people that hire writers are racists.

Your post makes the assumption that 1.) and 2.) could not possibly factor in, and thus you assume 3.) is the only viable reason why the Colbert Report doesn't have it's proportional 1 black writer.

The fact is 1.) absolutely exists, black people are underrepresented as applicants for these type of jobs. While this is no doubt in part due to the perception among blacks that it's not a job traditionally available to black people, that makes no difference to the people doing the hiring, assuming they are trying to simply fill the job with the most qualified candidate.

Option 2.) is harder to objectively verify, since decided who is more talented or funnier is inherently subjective. My limited experience with people connected to the business seems to support this idea.

One complaint I've heard a few times is that black writers are far more likely to be "single issue" comics. And they have a harder time generating quality material that doesn't relate to race. While certainly on shows like this there will regularly be a racial component to the humor, it's still a small portion of the overall comedy pie. If you lag behind your peers when it comes to writing the other 80%+ of the show that has nothing to do with race, then you are going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to being hired. I don't think this is some inherent flaw with black people not being as funny, but within the black comedian sub-culture that seems to be the overwhelming focus. So while even if 7-8% of the applicants for a job will be black, less then half of them were writing decent material that covered more material then their blackness. Meaning only 3-4% where even potentially qualified. Now if you have 9 writing slots to fill, and only 3-4% of applicants were non-single-issue black writers, then statistically the chances of one of those 9 slots going to a black person isn't great.

Naturally this isn't limited to just black comics. I had a friend that brought this up when he was on a team writing a pilot, and brainstorming for a half season's worth of plot outlines. One of the guys he was working with got hired because apparently he had a hilarious stand up routine that impressed whoever was in charge. The guy was a big fat dude, and his stand-up revolved around that fact. I guess it was assumed that a funny guy is a funny guy, and he'd be able to contribute to the show. It turned out that the guy was basically worthless when it came to writing anything else, because every damn situation he tried to wrap back around to the fat jokes he was used to writing, no matter what the situation called for.

Now once you find some way to correct your statistics for the first two issues, then I'll grant you whatever unaccounted for under-representation is left over would most likely be attributed to 3.) racist hiring. But you are a long bloody way from showing that, and to assume that 3 is the only possible answer and we should all be up in arms before looking into the facts strikes me as absurd identity politics.


Bardic I think this misses his point. Making an ad featuring attractive people to sell chips is different than white writers finding the right kind of black person to fulfill their version of "blackness."

Oh, bullshit. I know of casting directors who need to cast a "mom" or "slacker" for a 10 seconds of screen time in a commercial. And they go through dozens upon dozens of applicants trying to find the person who has that exact kind of "momness" or just the right type of "slacker" look to match the arbitrary vision of the director.

"Oh, this mom looks a little too stern, this one looks too much like a 'best friend' type of mom, this one has sort of cold eyes, this one's shoulders are too broad to be warm and 'momish' this one's too plump and cuddly looking, we want a modern 'on the go mom', this one looks like she's too 'on the go' to work.

But while it's just part of the job of casting directors to find the right kind of "momness" or "Jerkness" or "Hippyness" to fit their casting needs, I'm too believe it's wrong for them to try and find the right kind of "Blackness".
posted by Jezztek at 6:58 PM on January 8, 2007


Jezztek, how often do those casting directors struggle to find someone who embodies "whiteness"?
posted by bardic at 7:14 PM on January 8, 2007


(I can think of a few example myself, where "whiteness" is meant to signify nerdiness or the antithesis of cool, and this reaffirms my point -- not that Hollywood is filled with Howling Racists (Mel Gibson aside), but that America still has a hard time coming to grips with its past. And things are a lot better than they used to be, obviously, but racial hiccups like this one are not at all uncommon.

Shorter -- "whiteness" is invisible, so to speak. It's the unconscious standard and norm. Black actors continue to have to deal with some pretty fucked up notions about who they themselves are, fucked up notions invented by, for the most part, white people.)
posted by bardic at 7:21 PM on January 8, 2007


Jezztek, how often do those casting directors struggle to find someone who embodies "whiteness"?

Pretty much anywhere where white people make up less then 13% of the population.
posted by Jezztek at 7:37 PM on January 8, 2007


bardic: "Jezztek, how often do those casting directors struggle to find someone who embodies "whiteness"?"

About as often as occhiblu struggles to find someone who embodies "maleness" in AskMe.
posted by Partial Law at 7:40 PM on January 8, 2007


flapjax at midnite: "OK, Straightener, now I figured it out: You shot that boxer in Philly (or had PeterMcDermott do it, I haven't worked out which yet), and framed Joey Jihad for the murder, and put together that 'tough-guy-on-the-mean-streets-of-Philly' story to clear the way for your book deal and McDermott's record contract. "

Hey Straightener, this flapjax at midnite guy is getting too close for comfort. He's gonna screw up all our plans if he keeps on flapping his gums here on Metafilter.

I think it's time for another hit. That jonmc is a hothead with a rep. here on Metafilter to protect, so I suggest that we frame him for this job.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:47 PM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nice work, flatfoot, but what about the broad? You know, the one in the dumpster outside Trenton?

Oh, you didn't know about that, didja? She's still breathin', tick tock, it's your move.
posted by The Straightener at 7:59 PM on January 8, 2007


We broached the subject of black correspondents. He told me that they "tried a black guy once, but it didn't work out."

I have no problem believing that the above racist crack could come out of the mouth of a Daily Show writer, but it's also true that we're only getting one person's account of the conversation. Just noting that for all the folks rushing to use it as hard evidence.
posted by mediareport at 8:07 PM on January 8, 2007


Oh yeah, Straightener, I know all about the broad. We fished her outta that dumpster last night. And I got some news for you: she's my sister. That's right, wise guy, my sister. Oh, I'm comin' after you, brother. And this time, it's personal.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:10 PM on January 8, 2007


what are you gonna do, flapjax, shoot him with monogrammed bullets?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:44 PM on January 8, 2007


nah, pyramid, shooting's too good for this Straightener character. Oh, he'll suffer, don't worry about that... but we'll keep him alive, you bet. So's we can send him up the river. He and McDermott both. And guess who they'll be sharing a cell with? That's right, Joey Jihad. The man they framed and put away. Heh heh. Joey's gonna make sure they have a real good time in the joint.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:55 PM on January 8, 2007


This editorial blows and this Carlos fellow strikes me as a humorless fuck. I am totally glad Stephen's getting a new black friend.
posted by dhammond at 8:58 PM on January 8, 2007


I hate politicians.
posted by koeselitz at 9:24 PM on January 8, 2007


Regardless of the author, and his ability, employment, or lack thereof, interesting that no black writers are on ANY of those shows.

But hey, let's keep focusing on him and making hypothetical guesses about his lack of talent and motivations for writing that article- after all- he's the one in denial...
posted by yeloson at 9:29 PM on January 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


Reading this article has got my back up, 'cause I'm a white guy on the internet!
posted by furiousthought at 9:37 PM on January 8, 2007


interesting that no black writers are on ANY of those shows

Interesting that we accept this assertion as fact just because the writer, you know, wrote it down.

Interesting that no one seems to take the next step and ask if there have ever been black writers on these shows. For all we know, they had plenty, and they all left the day before this guy took his survey. For all we know, they could be interviewing 100 guys tomorrow for an open position.

Interesting that we all assume this guy even took a survey. Interesting that no one seems to be asking where he gets his information.

Interesting that we accept that because these few shows lack a black writer (or do they?), that all shows everywhere lack black writers.

Interesting that we think this is evidence of a wide-ranging, underreported and under-investigated conspiracy.

Interesting that there are 100+ comments based on a half-assed essay from a shitty comic.
posted by frogan at 10:00 PM on January 8, 2007


I don't think it's too much of a wild guess to say that if any of those shows had previously had black writers, you could probably count all of them on one hand.

But you're right, frogan -- with all the bullshit that blacks have to deal with regarding stereotypes (and women and non-whites as well, to lesser but still significant degrees), the entire burden of proof is on this guy. Since he's touching on the uber-sensitive American issue/blind-spot of race, he all of a sudden needs a PhD in statistics before he can simply make a few observations (which again, are pretty obvious and spot-on -- why is it that, typically but not always, white writers get to shape the perception of black people in American popular culture, but not the other way around?).

I promise you, they aren't coming for your money or your women or your job. Relax.
posted by bardic at 10:25 PM on January 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


XQUZYPHYR:
shows that often attack right-wing Eurocentric mores

Please, what are these right-wing Eurocentric mores? I have a difficult time connecting 'right-wing' and 'Eurocentric'.

As for racism: If you're white and American, you're racist. It's as simple as that. Denying it only proves the point.
posted by Goofyy at 10:44 PM on January 8, 2007


MetaFilter Colbert Report: Not bad but not enough black chicks.
posted by ibmcginty at 10:58 PM on January 8, 2007


Interesting that there are 100+ comments based on a half-assed essay from a shitty comic.

frogan, perhaps if you'd made your incisive and enlightening comment sooner you could've spared us all this time we've wasted commenting. I'm sure we're all now devastated, and embarassed to have chimed in on the subject at all. Reading your comment though, I couldn't help but notice how you'd used the clever poetic/structural device of starting each line with the word "interesting". Being a songwriter, I couldn't help but compare it to one of my favorite Wille Nelson tunes, "Crazy" (You've probably heard it, Patsy Cline did a wonderful version). The song employs a similar poetic device. Anyway, I thought I'd borrow the melody and, well, sing a reply to your oh-so-interesting comment. Here goes:

(To the tune of "Crazy", by Willie Nelson)

crazy, we're crazy for making these comments
crazy, crazy to post to the blue
you know, that there's no racism in TV
clearly, we all should just go get a clue
[bridge]
Listen, why don't we listen to frogan
he knows, that there's no problem at all...
... at all.....
we're...
crazy, to even suggest there's racism
examples? there ain't one
plus frogan says: ain't none
so we're crazy to post to the blue

we're crazy to post... to the... bluuuuuuue.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:28 PM on January 8, 2007


"Because it SEEMS then what you inevitably end up with is hiring people BECAUSE of their race. And NOT talent."

Because, as it's important to remember, talent and race are orthagonal, and people's personal experience (sometimes regarding race, which is still a huge issue in America) has nothing to do with their humor or talent, real or percieved.

Thank God for all the white people explaining to minorities that we really can't see color, otherwise they'd think we were all racists.

(And while I think bardic probably still hates me and it'll make his skin crawl to hear this, he's pretty much exactly represented what I would have said upthread. He's dead-on, and the suggestions to watch Hollywood Shuffle— which most of this editorial seems cadged out of— and Bamboozled are perfect. Perhaps if the folks who are trying so hard to justify the lack of black folks on the Daily Show would entertain, just for a moment, a trickle of empathy, they might get to take a recess from the endless psuedo-c0n dissembling).
posted by klangklangston at 11:43 PM on January 8, 2007


I think this misses his point. Making an ad featuring attractive people to sell chips is different than white writers finding the right kind of black person to fulfill their version of "blackness."

Jesus Christ, people. If you think that's what Colbert is doing, you're not in on the joke. Sorry. Why on earth would they need a black person to tell them how to show that Colbert (the character, not the person) is woefully incapable of understanding blackness?
posted by The God Complex at 12:05 AM on January 9, 2007


The reason he did this, of course, was becasue it was satire. He plays an ignorant right-wing pundit, and the idea that he needed to "audition" people to be his token minority friend was meant to be perceived as completely absurd. And yet, in reality, this is exactly what happened. The all-white staff of the show held auditions to find their perfect fit for someone to play the absurd notion of a hand-picked black associate.

If you do not find that upsetting or worthy of discussion, at least tell you me see the irony in that. Please.


Uh, no they didn't. A producer called his friend and had him come down to take a picture.

Then, after it became a running (and popular) gag, they played up the idea of an audition for laughs. It's absurd, yes, and intentionally ironic, but it's not ironic in the way you want it to be. In fact, I think it's a non-starter.

And, for the love of God, The Colbert Report isn't about "blackness". They don't need to hire a black writer to help them with "blackness" on the show. If a black writer happens to come along that can add an element to the right-wing send-up that is The Colbert Report, I'd be absolutely shocked if they didn't hire him (or her, for that matter). As it is, the show is so consistently funny, the only reason I'd even care who was writing the show is so I could build a shrine in their honor.
posted by The God Complex at 12:13 AM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am always amazed at the effort people put into discrediting a claim of discrimination. It freeps me out. If even a fraction of this effort was applied to sports the United States could win at Basketball.
posted by srboisvert at 3:19 AM on January 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hey, bardic, I loved Bamboozled too. (I love pretty much every flawed and sprawling and exciting thing Spike Lee's ever done, though. If you tell me you liked Summer of Sam too I won't feel nearly so lonely anymore.) And yes, Hollywood Shuffle -- hilarious and sad as hell. Both are getting long in the tooth, but both are still spot on.

This is a depressing conversation. As others have noted, whatever you think of the writer's talent, to use that to deny the underrepresentation of minority writers in entertainment is seriously off base. According to the Writer's Guild of America, west, in 2006:

Minorities remain underrepresented on TV staffs by 3 to 1. In general, minority writers have lost some ground relative to their white counterparts in the industry. There were 206 minority writers staffing television shows during the 2005-06 TV season, up from 199 in 2004-05. However, because the overall number of writers on television shows increased between the two seasons, the minority share decreased from 13 percent in 2004-05 to 12 percent in 2005-06. Since the 1999-00 TV season, the minority share of television employment has actually increased 4.2 percentage points (from 7.8 percent to 12 percent). Minorities, who comprise more than 30 percent of the population, nonetheless remain underrepresented on television staffs by nearly 3 to 1 – and this while the number of writers staffing television shows overall actually increased 17.3 percent between the 2004-05 and 2005-06 TV seasons (from 1575 to 1847).

Black writers account for more than half of minority writers – and continue to be concentrated on the now-defunct UPN. During the 2005-06 TV season, there were 130 black writers (63.1 percent of minority writers), 40 Hispanic writers (19.4 percent of minority writers), and 36 Asian American writers (17.5 percent of minority writers) staffing television shows. The figures for the 2004-05 TV season were similar: 136 black writers, 33 Hispanic writers, and 30 Asian American writers. There were 58 black writers staffing UPN television shows during the 2005-06 TV season, compared to 59 in 2004-05. These numbers represent 44.6 percent and 43.4 percent of all black writers, respectively. During the 1999-00 TV season, by contrast, only 30.8 percent of all black writers staffed UPN shows.

So: if you're an African American television writer and win The Parkers lottery, you're set. That's bullshit, and it's also bullshit that so many people feel so comfortable relying on their gut feeling that the problem is overstated ("But I see so many black people on TV! How could there possibly be anything wrong?") when the facts showing otherwise are so easy to find. Isn't the whole point of Colbert to make fun of a bunch of red-faced dudes who eschew facts and history for their addled sense of the truth? Why, if you're a fan of the show, would you ever want to be one of them?
posted by melissa may at 3:35 AM on January 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I liked the article too but I’d like to know why there aren’t too many (or any) writers/comedians who’re black on the sets of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, two shows which I happen to like a lot, and admire?
posted by hadjiboy at 5:25 AM on January 9, 2007


When Jon Stewart won his (first?) emmy and his whole staff went on stage, he made a joke about how diversity was the most important thing in a comedy team, exemplified on his by the fact that "steve has a beard, and JR isn't Jewish." I think women are even more underrepresented in comedy writing, considering we're half the population and almost as rare (as hitchens addressed...) But affirmative action is even more dangerous in comedy - it's such a fine line between original funny and sitcomblah that you really have to choose just the best & not worry about appearances.

Because fewer women & minorities probably try their hand at it, and because those who do are likely to have less experience (less likely to have been the class clown since 1983), it does not require racism or sexism for an imbalance to result. That Colbert has a woman head writer seemed like a big step to me. That he doesn't have any black or asian writers does not strike me as indicative of deep prejudices. I agree it's unfortunate, but I also think it's something they're well aware of, and not the result of discrimination.
posted by mdn at 5:37 AM on January 9, 2007


How many writers does a typical show of this ilk have? I'd guess 4-5, but my Google-fu couldn't verify.

It also seems to me that you can look at this essay and interpret it at least two ways...one, and I think most would agree, that minorities are under-represented on and off-stage in entertainment. The second, is that it is a specific indictment of Daly, Colbert etc, - most 'liberal' or 'progressive' fans will fancy themselves strongly anti-racist, and will have a hard time believing racism is a part of this particular situation, but that doesn't mean they would argue the larger point. If there is only a few writers in total on the shows, I think it is less likely that 'no minorities' is systemic.

Perhaps it just a refutes the idea that there is a 'liberal' bias in media? :-)
posted by sfts2 at 6:00 AM on January 9, 2007


God you people make me tired. "But I see so many black people on TV! How could there possibly be anything wrong?" Who the fuck said that? All I see are people saying that racism is obviously a problem in hiring in all fields, but that this individual situation may not be the result of racism. You want to run around proving how enlightened you are by saying racism is bad, by all means do so, but you may wish to pick a better victim than this guy, and you also may want to not try to make people feel bad for actually having something slightly more interesting to say.

As for those saying that the whole point is that Colbert and The Daily Show are parodies of the evils of the world such as racism, and therefore it is ironic that they have no minority writers; that is a valid point, and they probably should. Send them a letter or something.
posted by ND¢ at 6:04 AM on January 9, 2007


Oh, I didn’t mean to say that it was because of racism, but that there might be a whole slew of reasons why there might be a dearth of writers/comedians on those kinds of shows. I don’t know how prevalent this is in the States (since the article only mentions the two shows that are mentioned above), but it would be good to know how far-spread this is.

I agree with your assertion about women too by the way, and how good it feels to know that there is someone of your sex on the top too, just like it would probably make a big difference to someone of colour if there was a black man or woman working with Stephen or Jon, I'd assume.
posted by hadjiboy at 6:08 AM on January 9, 2007


This is wrong. The Daily Show does have a black writer, since last August. Larry Wilmore even has the title of Senior Black Correspondent.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:45 AM on January 9, 2007


I fully support diversity in television. Mainly because the black-oriented shows like the ones on UPN and the Spanish language channels like Telemundo tend to have way more hot babes on them.
posted by jonmc at 7:25 AM on January 9, 2007


This is wrong.

No it's not. Wilmore appeared as a correspondent (in 2 episodes, both to discuss a race-based issue) but is not a writer on the show, just as Carlos appeared as a "staff member" but was likewise a paid actor.

Here's the Daily Show writing staff at the 2005 Emmys. 14 people (15 including Stewart), all of whom are white; only one is female.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:02 AM on January 9, 2007


XQUZYPHYR are you claiming that Wilmore didn't write his own material? I'm sure he did. He's a professional comedy writer and has won awards.

That photo was of course taken before he joined the show.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:40 AM on January 9, 2007


"it's such a fine line between original funny and sitcomblah that you really have to choose just the best & not worry about appearances."

I'd say this actually undermines your argument. There are so many shitty sitcoms that it really argues for a general level of mediocrity among writers, and if we're conceding a large level of mediocrity (watch King of Queens if you disagree), it means that concerns about finding the very best writer are largely misplaced. There may be very few great black writers (though I wouldn't want to argue ffor that position), but there's gotta be a great swell of middling ones.

and ND¢, you make good points that no one is really arguing against. This guy may not be the best exemplar of the perils of racism, but that doesn't make the points he raises invalid (that's ad hominem thinking).
posted by klangklangston at 8:56 AM on January 9, 2007


Oh, and the Daily Show was created by a woman. What she's doing now, I have no idea (Liz Winstead).
posted by klangklangston at 8:57 AM on January 9, 2007


XQUZYPHYR are you claiming that Wilmore didn't write his own material? I'm sure he did.

So did Lewis Black; that doesn't make him one of the show's writing staff. You don't have a single piece of evidence saying Wilmore's a writer for the show, wheras while not 100% accurate IMDB lists his writing credits of which TDS is not one of them. You're anxious to score some kind of point here when the best you'll get is the revelation that after ten years, the show possibly hired a black person to write for them two months ago... and all the evidence even to that currently says you're incorrect. I'm not really sure what you're trying to prove here in light of the argument at hand.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:18 AM on January 9, 2007


I think women are even more underrepresented in comedy writing, considering we're half the population and almost as rare

And then of course there's ageism.

Even though people really really want there to be a big bad racist in this story somewhere.

I'm not saying there's overt racism or sexism. But I find it very odd, even distressing, that on the surface these people who make fun of Bush - who only got to where he is because of the Ivy League Old Boys network - *seem* to populate their staffs in the same way - with other white guys who went to the same kinds of schools.

But by all means, let's not address whether this could be remedied. Let's just keep downplaying it or outright asserting that the only reason you don't see a more diverse staff is that there just aren't many good minority/female/older writers.

Which is the same reason you don't see more female or black CEOs/ Senators/US Presidents/ members of the Vienna Philharmonic, right?


[Klang, thanks for the info on TDS' originator. I wonder if she still gets any residuals.]
posted by NorthernLite at 9:32 AM on January 9, 2007


Ivy League Old Boys network

Some anecdotal thoughts: It's no secret that the Simpson's writing staff has been and continues to be dominated by Harvard grads. Any Harvardite will tell you that almost every episode has at least one in-joke to that regard.

And then you've got the Harvard-to-National Lampoon, another boy's club (that hasn't been funny in ages, so I guess there's some justice there).

This whole thing has a lot more to do with inertia than with overt racism. But it's still an issue that's ultimately about fairness.

And I'm sort of glad we didn't get into music, but I think the argument has been made that you see a lot more blacks on MTV than you do on Comedy Central. The important thing to note however is that many of them took it upon themselves to create record labels (the first being Motown) in order to control the means of production. Like Melissa May says, you've got things like the UPN, and a much better network like BET (which not surprisingly built itself up on the popularity of black musicians), but both of those probably shift far fewer units than black-owned and/or controlled record labels.
posted by bardic at 10:23 AM on January 9, 2007


If you're white and American, you're racist.
This is amazing bullshit.
posted by owillis at 11:46 AM on January 9, 2007


Sarcasm?
posted by nathancaswell at 12:28 PM on January 9, 2007


Some anecdotal thoughts: It's no secret that the Simpson's writing staff has been and continues to be dominated by Harvard grads.
Yeah, I was thinking of mentioning that. Years ago I knew Al Jean when he was new to the show. IIRC even tho' he grew up in Michigan he was a Harvard/Lampoon boy.

posted by NorthernLite at 12:46 PM on January 9, 2007


XQUZYPHYR, I'm sorry, but that seems like a semantic argument to me. Wilmore wrote material that was featured on the show.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:14 PM on January 9, 2007


he all of a sudden needs a PhD in statistics before he can simply make a few observations

Some solid fact-checking and data would suffice...

Oh wait, you're one of those people that doesn't ask for proof when someone tells you something...? You know, I have some land in Florida to sell you...
posted by frogan at 1:28 PM on January 9, 2007


and if we're conceding a large level of mediocrity (watch King of Queens if you disagree),

lay off, already.
posted by jonmc at 1:45 PM on January 9, 2007


Let's just keep downplaying it or outright asserting that the only reason you don't see a more diverse staff is that there just aren't many good minority/female/older writers.

I think the conflict between opinions on this topic is a product of what you said here. There are two problematic points with this statement you've just made:

1.) There aren't enough black (indo-american, chinese-american, japanese-american, thai-american, gay, women, first nations, etc.) writers because there aren't enough good ones isn't the same as someone suggesting there aren't enough that write well for a show like The Colbert Report, which is, in large part, a send-up of whiteness/the white establishment. That a bunch of white, wealthy Harvard-types are willing to overtly attack the establishment that they've benefited from is commendable, as is the entire tenor of the show.

2.) You, and others in this thread, assume that if someone doesn't think it's racist for there not to be one black writer on The Colbert Report, we don't agree that there is a systemic problem that results in less black writers writing in the entertainment industry.

Why do so many minority comedians/writers concentrate on material that is race/culture or gender based? Is it a personal choice by the entertainer, or is it seen as a necessity for being accepted by the larger white establishment of the entertainment industry?

-----

Honestly, though, where would it stop? If they had a single black writer, would people would be hollering about the token black that writes for The Colbert Report, or that they only have a black writer, and not a Chinese/Japanese/Indo American writer, or a gay writer? Is a diverse board of writers necessary for good comedy?

Hell, for all I know, they chose nine or ten writers that closely fit Stephen Colbert's mold, as the show is essentially a twenty-two-minute egocentric examination of the character that is Stephen Colbert. The point is, I don't know why or how they chose their writers, yet I'm supposed to be impressed by melissa may's baseless assumption that I, or others, are somehow no different than facts-eschewing Bush types because we won't jump to conclusions about the Colbert Report's hiring practices for its writing staff?

The only facts we have here are that a shitty, boring, not-funny writer wasn't hired, a writer who may or may not have even applied to be a writer on The Colbert Report. You know what's just as annoying as the facts-eschewing type? The McCarthyist witch-burning types who run around yelling "Racist!" at every perceived slight and drive more people away from their cause than they draw to it.
posted by The God Complex at 1:55 PM on January 9, 2007


[NOT RACIST]
posted by The God Complex at 1:59 PM on January 9, 2007


The God Complex, I'm sorry that angry black men bother you so much.

Thing is, this guy didn't come off as angry to me. A bit peeved maybe. But he offered up some perspectives. That you've immediately jumped into hyper-defensive mode is also telling.
posted by bardic at 2:14 PM on January 9, 2007


XQUZYPHYR, I'm sorry, but that seems like a semantic argument to me. Wilmore wrote material that was featured on the show.

And? Every stand up comedian who appeared on Leno wrote material that was featured on the show. The Daily Show shows clips from CNN that other people wrote, meaning their material was featued on the show as well. And there is still nothing provided here that states Wilmore wrote the material he performed, rendering all this moot anyway. Jeez, unless you actually want to prove something here get over it already.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:15 PM on January 9, 2007


(Just ctrl-F'ed the article. He never uses the word "racist" either. Try to focus on what he actually says rather than the comfortable caricature of the uppity [insert minority here] person.)
posted by bardic at 2:18 PM on January 9, 2007


Uh, I wasn't talking about the boring, not funny writer. I was talking about the accustations people in this thread were making on the basis of a single complaint by a wildly untalented comedian/writer.

As for your other embarassingly transparent attempts to bait me, sorry--I'm not interested in getting into one of your frequent pissing matches.
posted by The God Complex at 2:27 PM on January 9, 2007


I agree with your assertion about women too by the way, and how good it feels to know that there is someone of your sex on the top too, just like it would probably make a big difference to someone of colour if there was a black man or woman working with Stephen or Jon, I'd assume.

sure, I think it'll be great the day when there's a really funny black member of their team. My only concern is that no one hires a less funny guy just 'cause he's black in order to fill out quotas. I am for affirmative action in some cases, but it doesn't work in the arts. It is more likely that the disparity's due to the percentage of young people who imagine that comedy writing is a possible future for them. I bet the number of women who grew up being 'the funny one' or who seriously thought, hey, maybe I could make a living writing jokes, is simply smaller than the number of men who did. That is not because of some inherent trait, I don't think. I know about even numbers of funny men & women, but I know more men who have thought about it as a possible profession to one extent or another (even if just trying to write little freelance shouts & murmurs-esque pieces). A lot of funny women just think of it as "childish" to pursue comedy professionally, while men are stereotypically less inclined to grow up, etc. All of which is to say, I see no evidence the Man is keeping us down on purpose, here, and some evidence that the culture is growing & shifting so that young people today are more aware of these options.

I'd say this actually undermines your argument. There are so many shitty sitcoms that it really argues for a general level of mediocrity among writers, and if we're conceding a large level of mediocrity... it means that concerns about finding the very best writer are largely misplaced.

I was only talking about whether daily/colbert have black writers, not how well black writers are represented in shitty sitcoms. I haven't had access to network tv for a while, but to my memory UPN was pretty much entirely shitty sitcoms, so it's good at least they didn't discriminate about which mediocre writers they hired. And hopefully some of the mediocre writers from there were able to hone their skills and become better writers, and perhaps they'll eventually go on to write something funny. So, yes, if a disparity exists in shitty sitcoms, that sounds to me like evidence that a lower percentage of black writers apply for the jobs to begin with.

If you're trying to do an actually originally funny show, that is a hard enough project to begin with, so on top of the smaller pool of applicants, they additionally have harder standards to match, which could potentially give them even fewer options.

It is also worth noting that humor is not necessarily given the same importance in all cultures - to my mind, eg, it is very prominent in the british culture and less so in the french. Obviously this is a small gradation of difference not a dichotomy of some kind, but I don't think it's wrong to say the french will be more likely to turn to beauty, romance, deep meaning, where the brits may find a joke instead. So different cultural backgrounds may contribute to who wants to be in comedy to start with...
posted by mdn at 2:31 PM on January 9, 2007


"Upsetting" is not the word I'd use. "Telling" is.

I promise you, they aren't coming for your money or your women or your job. Relax.

The God Complex, I'm sorry that angry black men bother you so much.

Try to focus on what he actually says rather than the comfortable caricature of the uppity [insert minority here] person.


Bardic, I understand that this is a hot-button issue about which you clearly feel very strongly.

Obviously America has a huge issue with racism, both overt and not, but I gotta say that, in the context of this thread, your baiting and thinly-veiled accusations of racism are coming off, at least to me, as really presumptuous.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:09 PM on January 9, 2007


Not trying to be a dick, just pointing out a "racist until proven otherwise" mentality doesn't exactly foster the best discussion of the issue.

As I think this thread proves.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:39 PM on January 9, 2007


Also, I'd like to go on the record as stating that my best friend in kindergarten was African American.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:44 PM on January 9, 2007


Since he's touching on the uber-sensitive American issue/blind-spot of race, he all of a sudden needs a PhD in statistics before he can simply make a few observations

HE doesn't. But. The conclusions MeFite's are drawing FROM his observations do need some sort of statistical support.

Irony? I remember when Jerry Seinfeld came to perform on Almost Live when I did some writing for them. The first thing he said was: "(Paraphrase) Nice to see another diverse comedy writing team." Speaking to the all white crowd of guys. Everybody KNOWS there are few black people in TV comedy writing.

But talking about WHY isn't implying anything about who attempting to be color blind or if there is any particular bias present other than people tend to hire their friends. And most of your friends tend to look like you.

Because, as it's important to remember, talent and race are orthagonal, and people's personal experience (sometimes regarding race, which is still a huge issue in America) has nothing to do with their humor or talent, real or percieved
Thank God for all the white people explaining to minorities that we really can't see color, otherwise they'd think we were all racists.


Othaga whatsis? ... can't see color... wha?

What THE fuck are you talking about? What the hell does what I said have to do with NOT seeing color? I was implying nothing of the sort. Klang. Please. Don't ever respond to me again. I thought we had a deal.

PS. Liz Winstead is actually a close friend of a friend of mine. I've met her and she is bitter and unlikeable. She, IMHO, is a hack. She left because of Greg Kinnear. She doesn't like John Stewart and PREFERRED Kinnear. She honestly thought Kinnear had more talent. Enough said there.
posted by tkchrist at 3:45 PM on January 9, 2007


Try to focus on what he actually says rather than the comfortable caricature of the uppity [insert minority here] person.

Wow. That was over the top. Seriously. You should apologize for shit like that.
posted by tkchrist at 4:01 PM on January 9, 2007


I think I've been pretty circumspect actually. And I haven't called anybody a racist. I'll cop to getting frustrated that multiple posters attacked this guy for being "shitty" talent-wise in order to ignore the fact that he makes some simple points. He was quickly painted as "one of those" uppity PC types, so angry and incapable of polite discourse, and this is, unfortunately, a really common tactic aimed at people who point out some of the commonplace racial hang-ups we Americans have (myself included, obviously).
posted by bardic at 4:07 PM on January 9, 2007


(Responding to nathancaswell. tkchrist, you've spewed plenty of turds so far, and you couldn't even answer my simple question above. So let's agree to disagree. IMO, a lot of commenters here read the first paragraph of this piece and pretty much lumped it in with their own experiences with "angry" PC types and such. Not that he's Montaigne or anything, but you accused him and many of us of looking for the "big, bad racist," which nobody did, and that anyone who advances the notion that perhaps, just maybe there's a lingering, institutional form of discrimination in Hollywood is a "McCarthyite," well, I guess we can all behave better.)
posted by bardic at 4:15 PM on January 9, 2007


(Actually, you didn't invoke McCarthy, but I think the point stands.)
posted by bardic at 4:17 PM on January 9, 2007


Wait, are you responding to tkchrist or me? Cause I never accused anyone of looking for a big bad racist, nor did I invoke McCarthy.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:22 PM on January 9, 2007


All I did was say that comparing his voluntary participation in an audition to the purchase of slaves because they both involved black bodies being scrutinized by white eyes was "fucking stupid." Which I still think it was.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:23 PM on January 9, 2007


Or maybe you meant that your previous post was responding to me, not tkchrist, and the entire parenthetical was directed to him. Which, rereading it, is probably the case.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:26 PM on January 9, 2007


All I did was say that comparing his voluntary participation in an audition to the purchase of slaves because they both involved black bodies being scrutinized by white eyes was "fucking stupid." Which I still think it was.

See, I don't think he did this. He wrote No, the casting director didn't enslave my ancestors, but it doesn't mean you can't be aware that black people don't take too kindly to close inspection of their bodies by white eyes.

As an aspiring comedian, maybe he could have phrased it better. I thought it was kind of funny myself. If he'd been all Maya Angelou-style dramatic and claimed that every casting call he's been on is just like the Middle Passage, well, yeah, that would be fucking stupid.
posted by bardic at 4:29 PM on January 9, 2007


He also wrote, in the preceding sentence, about casting directors... White people who look you over and examine your body, your hair, your teeth.

Maybe you're right but, until he explains a little more about what he meant by this, I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

Anyway, moving on.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:36 PM on January 9, 2007


you accused him many of us of looking for the "big, bad racist," which nobody did

Uh. I didn't feel I needed to "answer" you. Because YOUR the one. Hence, why everybody is arguing with you about it. Or didn't you notice? Jesus.

Why are you inventing Stawmen and filling them with loaded words like "uppity" if your not accusing, or at least implying, people are de facto racists? C'mon.

nathancaswell is right and you know it.

All they, and I, are doing is disagreeing with your rather all-over-the-map arguments in this thread.

You are over the top. And I am done.
posted by tkchrist at 4:50 PM on January 9, 2007


Metafilter: Anyway, moving on.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:52 PM on January 9, 2007


tkchrist, I'm a little sorry you're done. I'd like to know where I've been "all-over-the-map" in my arguments. I'd also like to know who I called a racist. Nor have I claimed there's a "big, bad one" at work here (your poorly chosen words). It's institutional more than anything, if I haven't been clear enough. And more a weird phenomena than an overt practice of keeping blacks out of writing jobs. I thought the article did a pretty good job of pointing that out. As for strawmen, you're the one who tried to dismiss this guy as a disgruntled person bitter about not getting a certain job (or is that ad hominem?), and tended to conveniently ignore his more salient points.
posted by bardic at 6:22 PM on January 9, 2007


And there is still nothing provided here that states Wilmore wrote the material he performed, rendering all this moot anyway. Jeez, unless you actually want to prove something here get over it already.

So wait, Carlos's op-ed stands on about as much fact as my comment, but I'm supposed to "get over it" but Carlos gets a huge benefit of the doubt in his assertions.

Since he's touching on the uber-sensitive American issue/blind-spot of race, he all of a sudden needs a PhD in statistics before he can simply make a few observations

Would you like a straw man with that false dilemma?

Without any hard evidence, he's just a guy with an opinion. With a reasonable amount of evidence he might be persuasive.

As an aspiring comedian, maybe he could have phrased it better. I thought it was kind of funny myself.

But it's because he's black that he didn't get a job writing comedy...
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:24 PM on January 9, 2007


Addition to Melissa May's data above -- there have been studies of race/sex/age in the Hollywood writing industry for many years.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:42 PM on January 9, 2007


So wait, Carlos's op-ed stands on about as much fact as my comment

NO, FOR FUCK'S SAKE. Carlos' op-ed, combined with IMDB not listing Elmore as a writer either on his bio, the Daily Show's info page, or the credits page the exact fucking episode he appeared on, combined with the show's Wikipedia entry not listing him as a writer, combined with the fact that you can download a torrent of last night's episode and see that he doesn't appear as a writer in the motherfucking credits, combined with your presenting DIDDLY JACK SHIT to the case of him being a writer on the show stands. And I'm sorry for the outburst but I've offered you and the others bickering on this like three or four opportunities to either back their claim or back out decently, and instead you just kept pressing it.

I have well beyond exhausted any semblance of burden of proof for my position at this point. Wilmore's not a writer on the show. Nothing exists saying he is. You're fucking wrong. If you have something to the contrary, show it, given you just said in YOUR EXACT SAME COMMENT "Without any hard evidence, he's just a guy with an opinion." If not, fucking drop it already. Jesus fuck CHRIST.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:50 PM on January 9, 2007


Oh dear. MeFi doesn't do race very well, does it?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:14 PM on January 9, 2007


it doesn't seem to be doing a lot of things very well lately
posted by pyramid termite at 12:52 AM on January 10, 2007


PS. Liz Winstead is actually a close friend of a friend of mine. I've met her and she is bitter and unlikeable. She, IMHO, is a hack. She left because of Greg Kinnear. She doesn't like John Stewart and PREFERRED Kinnear. She honestly thought Kinnear had more talent. Enough said there.

Greg Kinnear was never on The Daily Show? He hosted Talk Soup before going on to a succesfulish film career. Craig Kilborn hosted TDS before Jon Stewart. If she is bitter and unlikeable and a hack, why is she "a close friend"?

On topic: Yes, the reason that everyone except white males are underrepresented in comedy is simply that there are no funny people of other races (or genders).
Seriously, it doesn't mean that The Daily Show is racist, but maybe there is something to that whole white privilege thing? Like what's funny to white Ivy League guys (because of their shared experience) is generally produced by other white Ivy League guys, which means that they tend to hire more white Ivy League guys, and that's what's out there culturally as "comedy," which produces more white Ivy League guys as comedy writers?
posted by SoftRain at 12:56 AM on January 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Brief linguistic-interest derail:

...before going on to a succesfulish film career.

Now there's a fine word, "successfulish". Hadn't previously seen the 'ish' suffix attached to that particular word. Google search turns up only about 80-odd results, so looks like you're on the cutting edge of a new trend there,SoftRain! (But remember, 2 'S's in 'success'!)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:41 AM on January 10, 2007


XQUZYPHYR, you missed my point entirely. I wasn't trying to continue insisting Whitmore is an official writer for TDS. I was pointing out that the burden of proof and reasoning you're holding me to (which is a reasonable one) is far above and beyond the one you're holding Carlos to. Carlos's article, by itself, has as much hard evidence as my comment you're so incensed about does, which is to say, nothing except an opinion and semantics. In my case, I made an honest mistake (I assumed that if a comedian performed his own material on a show, that meant he wrote the material and is therefore a writer); in Carlos's case, he's accusing at least three different shows and their producers/directors as being racist, because (near I can tell) his experience with someone snapping his photo didn't "parley into a job." And yet, you're not swaering at him (so far as I know.)
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:52 AM on January 10, 2007


Wilmore, I mean.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:53 AM on January 10, 2007


Oh dear. MeFi doesn't do race very well, does it?

Silly whitefolk.
posted by jonmc at 7:17 AM on January 10, 2007


I've walked in really late here, but here's my two cents:

I know it's likely outside of the realm of most MeFites, but there's been an effort on the part of networks like MTV to be more fair in hiring practices. Partially because they've been called out on it, but also due to the realization that the people on the other side of the camera do not really reflect those who are on screen. While The Real World might have a racially diverse cast, the producers, cameramen, sound guys, and complete production crew are mostly a bunch of white guys. This is true throughout a lot of broadcast television.

So what, you might say. The audience is seeing a diverse group on screen. But it's a group that's filmed, edited, and sometimes written by a bunch of white guys. To pretend that biases never come into play is a little shortsighted.

tkchrist is right in that the people in the background don't necessarily have to be a diverse group, only a talented one. I'd like to think that Colbert was mocking the idea that having "a black friend" or writer, or cameraman, somehow adds a level of credibility. But that sort of tactic also shows that there is a perception that there's something there. It would have been a funny joke had Colbert pulled one of his actual writers, or a writer from another show filmed in the same area. Is it funnier that they weren't even able to find a black writer to stand in for the gag? Maybe.
posted by mikeh at 9:08 AM on January 10, 2007


If she is bitter and unlikeable and a hack, why is she "a close friend"?

She is a friend "of a friend." Not MY friend. Andy why MY friends like her is their business. To each their own. It could be purely a professional thing for all I know.

These friends , also from Minnesota, they met her I believe through work with MTV when they lived in New York. I met her once. I felt she was a very bitter person. Merely a personal anecdote. Take it for what you will.

And sorry, yes. I meant Kilborn. I never watched the Daily Show or Talk Soup and frankly tuned out over that whole thing. Don't know why I said Kinnear. Other than they both suck. My mistake.
posted by tkchrist at 9:43 AM on January 12, 2007


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