The end of racism in 60 minutes
The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racismin About an Hour
Sacramento, CA 95811
It’s the only logical question to ask a comedian who says he can end racism in about an hour: WTF? So that’s what we asked W. Kamau Bell, a San Francisco-based comedian who is bringing his show, The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour, to the Sacramento Comedy Spot.
C’mon, ending racism in an hour? WTF?
There we go. You laughed. That’s what I want everyone to do when they see the title for the show. “Bring a friend of a different race and get in half price? I’m gonna call my one black friend and get in for cheap. Oh, no, somebody else got my one black friend! I have to pay full price!”
Do we need more comedy about racism?
Uh, yes. First, a lot of comedy about racism is bad. I really don’t think we need more bad comedy about racism. And there’s plenty of comedy that’s racist. We certainly don’t need more racist comedy. But comedy can change the rules for how we think about those things.
What about the “N” word?
I’m making fun of the very idea of the “N” word. That part of the show is setting up the ground rules. In my show, I say, “You won’t hear the ‘N’ word,” and you’ll hear people clap. But then I start saying “nigger,” and people laugh because they realize that the rules are different here.
It’s not a lecture. It’s interactive; it plays with a lot of things. This is not a stealth [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] meeting. I’m not signing anybody up for stuff.
Now that we have a biracial president, a lot of people think we’re past racism …
We have a biracial president? I thought we had a black president. I believe that Barack—he checked the box for African-American, Negro or colored, not for multiracial. But this is one of those places where it all gets really funny, because in America, the rules for race are inconsistent and all screwed up.
It is funny to talk about the hypocrisy of the idea of race, and how the line [between races] changes. It wasn’t that long ago that Irish and Italian people weren’t white. I wonder how you become white? Do you graduate? The problem in this country is even when you’ve attained the highest level of success, you can be arrested for being a black man in your own home.
Most of our science says race doesn’t exist. We could have the same amount of social upheaval over height or eye color—but that would be kind of hard, because you have to get up close to put someone in a category. People can pick anything to fight about and create some sort of difference. Go to Ireland. Those people look very much alike, and yet they’ve been fighting, the Catholics and the Protestants, fighting for years.
Humans will find a reason to fight each other. America has chosen race. We had indentured servants, but they could graduate. Slaves couldn’t graduate, but indentured servants could get new clothes and speak the King’s English and you could pass.