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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I wish the Republican Leadership Conference could do for the nation what it did for Reggie Brown

I probably would not know who Reggie Brown is if he hadn't been ushered off the stage in the middle of performance at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans last weekend.  I had to watch the video to find out what he did that was considered inappropriate.  It turns out that what he did was be funny, although the targets of his humor obviously did not think so.  

One headline on Youtube said he was yanked off stage because of his racist comments.  But none of what he said disparaged any race in any way.  Rather, his routine satirized the racial and religious hangups that obsess so many in our culture.  

Hie commented that February was his favorite month.  It's black history month.  Michelle, he said, celebrates the whole month.  He only celebrates half.  

What those lines make fun of is the obsession with racial ratios that once were used to qualify mulattoes for which race, and are still operative in the small minds of many.  

His comment that his mother loved a black man but was not a Kardashian strikes at the reality-tabloid mania and what it says about the obsession with racial intermixing.

When Reggie Brown shifted from making fun of the Obama gossip to the foibles around some Republican candidates the Leadership Conference decided to end his performance.  He even ventured into some jokes about the popular conception of Mormonism when he talked about Mitt Romney.  He conjectured about what the atmosphere of the White House would be if Romney were president with First Lady One....First Lady Two...First Lady Three.

As Larry the Cable Guy says, now that's funny.  At least to old men who cherish moments of well-focused satire. 

Most sentient people would know that Romney is monogamous and the line is an absurdity meant to elicit giggles at the preposterous notion of multiple women sharing the first ladyship.  But to some, that would be offensive.

Satire is a dangerous business.  Some people hated Mark Twain for it.  Still do, I found out after teaching Twain.  Their brains can't handle any humor that makes fun of human stupidity and perversity.  So be it.  The freedom to be illiterate is one of major celebration these days.

But like many people, I would not have known who Reggie Brown is what he does if he hadn't received headlines for getting escorted off stage.  That also earned him appearances on Monday morning news shows.  

What is remarkable about Reggie Brown is the degree of finesse in his impersonation.  He does Obama with the evocative polish that Tina Fey does Sarah Palin.  He has Obama's vocal inflections, his gestures, and particularly that smile down to the point that one forgets one is not looking at Obama for moments in the performance.  He is so polished that his mimicry is respectful, not derisive.

Reggie Brown will probably get a lot of work as a result of his stage exit at the Leadership Conference, which was intended to be an ignominious one.  I look forward to sharing some giggles at some sharp-witted and well-delivered satire.  It's one of the few benefits our current political milieu can provide us. 




larry kurtz said...

Thought this might interest you.

caheidelberger said...

Sanford and Son! That was a great visual joke, and a fine complement to the funny GWBush phone gag.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States