A Remedial Comedy 101 Lesson For George Lopez: Every Joke Isn’t Funny
Comedic timing is a method of pacing the delivery of jokes to enhance their humorous affect on the audience. It’s a practice many a comedian has had to perfect to make it to the top in their business and a method that has, unfortunately, taken precedence over the cultural timing of telling a joke, i.e. ignoring all signs that say “too soon” or “this is not the time.”
Given the current anti-anything-not-white-wealthy-pseudo-Christian-male climate in America right now, I would’ve thought there’d be flashing synapses in George Lopez’ cortex that would warn him playing on Black fear in his stand-up routine is not only not funny but irresponsible right now. But perhaps something is wrong with my brain because the Mexican-American comedian did just that Saturday night.
During a show in Phoenix, he told the crowd: “There are only two rules in the Latino family. Don’t marry somebody Black and don’t park in front of our house.”
The joke, if you want to call it that, was met with wild laughter from the crowd, except by at least one woman who responded by giving Lopez the middle finger. And as if he hadn’t already offended some members of the audience enough, he then told the woman in response to her protest: “Sit your f-ckin’ a–down! Sit your f-ckin’ a– down! I’m talking, b-tch. You paid to see a show. So sit your f-cking a– down!”
It’s an unfortunate scenario we continue to see play out time and time again with comedians. They say something in a stand-up routine, interview, or on social media that they know is likely going to offend people and when the backlash comes, they dismiss the words, as well as any personal responsibility for what was said, all under the guise of, “It’s a joke.” What they fail to realize or learn from these repeated mistakes is being offensive is not a prerequisite for telling a joke; and every joke isn’t funny, especially not in Trump’s America.
And let’s not overlook the irony of a Mexican man doing anything to remind the crowd that although he’s a minority — a member of the very group of people our administration is targeting just as heavily as Muslims — he and all Mexicans are still not “as bad” as Blacks. It’s a tired trope, whether echoed in a one-on-one conversation or in front of a large crowd. I’d ask what kind of response he expected from the audience but what’s the point? If you listen to the video, you’ll hear more than half of them laugh. And I think it’s safe to say from his reaction to the protesting woman, he cares not about offending people of any race or gender. And why would he think to care about those at the bottom of the racial totem pole? Perhaps because it’s Black people who are always willing to carry the injustices waged against Latinos on our backs as well when we speak out against racial profiling and police brutality and ask for fair treatment for all those who are disenfranchised. No one seems to mind our Blackness then or the benefits they receive as a direct result of our marching and pleading and policy changing actions.
And — not that I expect Lopez to apologize — but just in case someone from his PR camp is encouraging him to, spare me. We’re used to not having allies in this equal rights fight and the sooner we recognize who doesn’t have our back, the easier it is to spend our coins on those who do. So thank you George Lopez for your terrible timing because now the joke’s on you, literally.
Oh, and fun fact: This is the same man who divorced his wife after she donated her kidney and saved his life. So really we shouldn’t be surprised by this at all.