Funny or Racist?

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 08:00 AM

Reporter Arun Venugopal and comedienne Amber Ruffin (Emily Botein)

"Racial humor is important," says Amber Ruffin. "It can make you feel good."  

Reporter Arun Venugopal speaks frankly with comedienne Ruffin, a writer at Late Night with Seth Meyers and according to Jezebel, the first black woman to write for a late night network TV show. Ruffin talks about Key and Peele, Whoopi Goldberg, and the role of humor in redefining stereotypes.


Produced by:

Emily Botein


Karen Frillmann


More in:

Comments [5]


Roger Witherspoon - while you are certainly entitled to your opinion, and you may be well versed in the history of blacks in the U.S., perhaps you should stick to that specific area of U.S. history, since you talk about Indians and Asians as if you are well versed in their history in the U.S. African Americans did indeed fight for many things now enjoyed by Africans from African, the Caribbean, Asian Indians, and other ethnic groups, but this is not the entire story, even if you are too ignorant to recognize it.

Being respectful of those who fought (and died) in the past doesn't mean we have to follow lock-step behind them for all eternity. Were that the case, the Civil Rights movement might not have occurred. Think about it - no change of mindset, no change.

Apr. 14 2014 02:37 PM
toussaintl from New York City

May I recommend one listen to Jackie "Moms" Mabley, a wonderful "stand-up comic" with the ability to cause many folks to cry, acquire pain in their sides, and "fall out of their seats" with laughter. There are "routines" about New York City, the First Lady, older men who marry much younger females, astronauts, a guy who arrives in Heaven unexpectantly, and much more. The videos of "Moms" are unforgettable. Enjoy the fun.

Apr. 11 2014 08:32 PM
tom li

Mr Witherspoon hits a few dozen nails on their heads!

I see this incessant playing into stereotypes as nothing but mollifying those who simply won't let their prejudices go. "See, even 'they' agree with me/us."

I also agree not enough middle class black youth truly grasp how far things have come from only a few decades ago. Sure they get followed in a store, etc...but so do white skater and goth kids - as well as privileged, all designer name clothing wearing white kids. (Shocker, they steal a lot of stuff! A lot of stuff!)

Its wrong for the current generation of black youth, youth in general, to be defining past social ills and movements as passed and rich for their exploitation so to get a job for the establishment that still refuses to get up to speed. Not everything is funny all the time!

And this applies especially to young women who think their emancipation is thru behaving like the worst that men behave. Being crass, insensitive, sexually predatory, inconsiderate of others, physically aggressive,drinking like fish, etc, etc...

Apr. 11 2014 05:02 PM

With all due respect Mr. Witherspoon, Key and Peele express the attitudes of a whole lot of us and Amber Ruffin is spot on. Their comedy could be characterized as post-racial, post-satirical, post everything-expected. As for the rest of your rant--Asian American journalists in the 70's? There weren't too many of those around then--why they are pretty scarce now. The Asian American Journalists Association was started in 1981. The South Asian Journalists Association was started in 1994. And yes, thanks for all you did, but you might, just might think of the fact that the younger generation featured here--like Amber Ruffin and Arun Venugopal are also paving the way for those who will come after.

Apr. 11 2014 03:30 PM
Roger Witherspoon from cortlandt manor, ny

I could not disagree more with your characterization of Key and Peele. I find them less than loathsome. It is not catharsis -- that is a disrespectful, ignorant, stupid, insulting comment from a kid who was not alive during a period when black men and women could be killed for smiling. As one who spent a year on a kkk kill list and survived more than one lethal attempts on my life I find nothing funny or amusing about their uncle tom depictions and your uninformed defense of the crap they call art.
you are being interviewed by a reporter of Indian ancestry -- a group welcomed to this country in waves during the nixon administration as part of a deal with the British too take their "darkies" -- since they don't make waves -- and allow American firms to hire them in the name of "diversity" without having to hire any Black Americans who might complain about workplace racism.

There were no Asian-American journalists complaining in the 70s when all the NYC papers had separate and unequal pay scales for black journalists. That is a practice that we fought and you benefit from, even if you are too ignorant to recognize it.

It take more than not being late to honor the Black men and women who made it possible for young people like you to enjoy your current level of fame.

Apr. 11 2014 02:45 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About Micropolis

Little Bits of a Big City


Supported by