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Black and Brown Relations in the African American Comedic Imagination

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Abstract:

This paper examines notions of race and authenticity in African American standup comedy comparing Blacks and Latinos. From jokes concerning life in Los Angeles to post-Hurricane Katrina humor, Black comics probe not only what it means to be “Black” and “Mexican,” but also what is at stake in these very claims. Often, Black comics’ jokes rely on notions of authenticity and racial incongruity to construct notions of “Blacks” and “Mexicans” as either one of the same or altogether different. Arguably, their comedic framings have palpable implications for our understandings of Black-Latino relations in global cities such as Los Angeles. Drawing from a six-year ethnographic study of African American standup comedy, I analyze how Black (and some Brown) comics make sense of themselves and each other and what their testimonies teach us about the tangibility of race and the pragmatics of racial authenticity. Moreover, I argue that Black/“urban” humor presents a performative stage for broader understandings of Black-Latino relations. In particular, comics’ jokes hint at varying perceptions of what is at stake in new residential formations, cross-cultural strife, and political coalition building involving African Americans and Latinos in the present.
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Name: The American Studies Association
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MLA Citation:

Jacobs-Huey, Lanita. "Black and Brown Relations in the African American Comedic Imagination" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The American Studies Association, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, PA, Oct 11, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p186642_index.html>

APA Citation:

Jacobs-Huey, L. , 2007-10-11 "Black and Brown Relations in the African American Comedic Imagination" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The American Studies Association, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, PA <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p186642_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: This paper examines notions of race and authenticity in African American standup comedy comparing Blacks and Latinos. From jokes concerning life in Los Angeles to post-Hurricane Katrina humor, Black comics probe not only what it means to be “Black” and “Mexican,” but also what is at stake in these very claims. Often, Black comics’ jokes rely on notions of authenticity and racial incongruity to construct notions of “Blacks” and “Mexicans” as either one of the same or altogether different. Arguably, their comedic framings have palpable implications for our understandings of Black-Latino relations in global cities such as Los Angeles. Drawing from a six-year ethnographic study of African American standup comedy, I analyze how Black (and some Brown) comics make sense of themselves and each other and what their testimonies teach us about the tangibility of race and the pragmatics of racial authenticity. Moreover, I argue that Black/“urban” humor presents a performative stage for broader understandings of Black-Latino relations. In particular, comics’ jokes hint at varying perceptions of what is at stake in new residential formations, cross-cultural strife, and political coalition building involving African Americans and Latinos in the present.

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