DID YOU READ

5 Culturally Insensitive Comedies That Somehow Exist

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The Internet has exploded with “hot takes” on Rachel Dolezal, the Caucasian head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP who has passed herself off as a black woman for many years. And if your brain is as pop culture-addled/rotted as ours, your thoughts immediately went to Soul Man, the 1986 “comedy” where C. Thomas Howell actually wears blackface in front of James Earl Jones.

Sadly, the history of motion picture comedy is rife with awkward and dated examples of actors portraying another race in a less than sensitive fashion. Here are five of the most egregious cases.

1. Soul Man

It’s difficult to watch the trailer for this infamous C. Thomas Howell vehicle today without your jaw dropping several times. Howell plays a rich kid faced with paying for his Harvard Law School tuition when daddy cuts him off. Instead of taking out student loans or, say, getting a part-time job, Howell’s Mark Watson instead takes tanning pills (which apparently was a thing if this movie is to be believed) in order to pass as African-American and deceive his way into a scholarship. Fun fact: This comedy from the producers of Risky Business was written by one of the creators of The Wonder Years, proving we all have off days. Less fun fact: Howell’s line “These are the ’80s, man — the Cosby decade!” is uncomfortable on a number of levels today.


2. Ernest Goes to Africa

After inadvertently giving his lady love a yo-yo made from rare African diamonds, Ernest P. Worrel gets embroiled in an adventure that takes him to Africa and involves all manner of dated jokes about tribal cultures. (Yes, Ernest almost gets eaten by the natives.) He also dresses in drag and dons blackface as a servant named “Hey You.” Definitely the low point of the Ernest franchise, which is saying a lot when you take into account outings like Slam Dunk Ernest, where our loveable yokel become a basketball sensation thanks to a pair of magic shoes.


3. The Love Guru

In a way, we only have ourselves to blame for Mike Myers’ painfully unfunny Guru Pitka character. If we hadn’t encouraged him to don a fat suit and insult Scottish people in several Austin Powers movies, perhaps he would’ve thought before adopting a stereotypical accent and ridiculous beard for his disastrous appropriation of Indian culture. Hopefully we have all learned something here.


4. The Party

Of course, Myers was likely channeling his hero Peter Sellers, who played an Indian actor in director Blake Edwards’ experimental comedy. The same Edwards of course who gave us Mickey Rooney sporting buckteeth and an exaggerated Japanese accent straight out of a World War II-era Bugs Bunny cartoon in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.


5. Basically Any Movie Where Rob Schneider Wears a Wig and False Teeth

Really, this list could be comprised entirely of Adam Sandler movies where Rob Schneider pretty much commits a hate crime on film. Whether it’s Salim in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, the Asian minister in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Ula in 50 First Dates or even the Chinese waiter he played in Eight Crazy Nights, Schneider can always be counted on to offend some culture with his broad, stereotypical performances. Really, who hasn’t he offended at this point? The Dutch, perhaps? There’s still time. To crib from his famous line from The Waterboy, “You can do it, Rob!”

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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