Code Switching: Race in Comedy


NPR interviews three non-Caucasian comedians in America that used race jokes in their show before. First was southasian comedian Aparna Nancheria. She spoke about how there was a class where others would compare each others appearance to any celebrity. She was compared to Mindy Kaling from The Office, Aziz Ansari (who is a male), and science. She says that even if she doesn’t try to make jokes about race, it is still part of her identity and how the audience perceives her because she is in this industry. The next comedian was indigenous comedian, Brian Bahe. He joked about how people will recognize indigenous lands in teasing ways. When they mention the land they don’t show respect, but more as a mission to accomplish. Bahe also says that even without deliberately mentioning race in his jokes there will be some type of race in all comedians jokes. The last comedian was Iranian comedian, Maz Jobrani. He joked about how people who participated in the January 6th event were not allowed to go on the plane, while those who didn’t partition 9/11 were not allowed to go on the plane just because they were Muslim. Jobrani also said that those that stormed the capital were proud of it and even called patriots by Trump, while other races are all called terrorists if they didn’t something terrible. Bahe talks about race in his scripts to avoid talking about race altogether in the future.
I am not a person that listens to comedy shows, but when they mention these things in a funny way, it makes the audience laugh and still think about it. Even if the audience was a mixed audience, they might accept it more because it was a comedy. I agree with Nancheria’s point of how race is part your identity, so speaking about it in this is fine because that is also how other view you. She is taking the audience’s perspective into account and saying this script. With code switching, the three comedians are using their own way of expressing their opinion on the race issue instead of saying it in a formal speech. Just like how many of us may use joking ways to talk to friends on issues, they are also.

4 thoughts on “Code Switching: Race in Comedy

  1. I agree that you can’t be overly sensitive with your race and back round because it is apart of your identity and you should be proud of it.

  2. I definitely agree that being of a certain culture means having to live it with for the rest of your life, trying to hide that is simply foolish. It is unfortunate however that certain stereotypes make it seemingly ok for 2 groups of people to do the same thing, yet only one of those groups is seen as the bad guy.

  3. Code-switching allows for comedians to make their shows funnier and more enjoyable. Jokes about race can offend the wrong people but in the environment of a comedy show, comedians always use race jokes because it gets a reaction out of the crowd.

  4. I think jokes about race depend on your audience. If you know the people you’re talking to would get offended don’t say it for their sake. It’s like a two-way street of respect especially if you aren’t from the race being ridiculed.

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