After Dave Chappelle stopped doing Chappelle’s Show, he did an interview with Oprah to discuss what happened. There’s one quote in particular that has always stuck with me:
“There was a good-spirited intention behind it,” Dave says. “So then when I’m on the set, and we’re finally taping the sketch, somebody on the set [who] was white laughed in such a way—I know the difference of people laughing with me and people laughing at me—and it was the first time I had ever gotten a laugh that I was uncomfortable with. Not just uncomfortable, but like, should I fire this person?”
We laugh a lot here at DISGRASIAN, which can be a challenge when dealing with the arguably touchy subject of Disgrace. Sometimes laughter is the only answer when shit gets really dark–or, more importantly, when shit is just funny. And I’m no stickler for what exactly makes funny things funny, and I know that sometimes the “what” is a grey area.” But like Chappelle, I often find myself looking at tips from readers and thinking, that seems to be funny to everybody, but I’m not sure I’m so comfortable with why.
For instance, when I first saw this Internet gem, a Korean guy doing his rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body”:
…it was too ridiculous to pass up. Ridiculous-funny. So I wrote about it.
But today, when somebody sent me the updated karaoke version of this video on YouTube, which subtitles the poor guy with the garbled nonsense it sounds like he’s saying (because he’s got an accent, and he’s singing in another language), I paused.
Why? Because I didn’t know if people digging this version are laughing with him or at him. At his Asianness. At his Koreanglish.
And that makes me feel funny.
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