Racism is an ugly word, and that’s putting it mildly. The problem is it gets bandied about way too easily these days, not understanding that it has the power to tarnish the reputation of anyone even lightly associated with it. Amy Schumer has been unjustly connected to that word, and anyone who knows her knows there’s not a shred of truth to that. Especially those of us in the comedy community which of all communities, is probably the most inclusive in terms of race, gender and ethnicity. It’s a place where people from all backgrounds craft jokes about themselves and each other, to allow people to see the humor in all stereotypes, … all of which by the way, have the tiniest amount of truth to them, which is what makes them funny. That’s why people relate to them.
Go to any comedy club and you’ll see comics of all backgrounds, just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company and enjoying each other’s ability to make people laugh. Comedy doesn’t tolerate racism. That’s why comedy is such a powerful Healing force. It brings everyone together to see the joke in all of us. Look at the diversity in a Russell Peters audience for example. And that can be 20,000 people from all different backgrounds, all laughing at themselves and at each other. It’s healthy, it’s important and it’s the essence of what this country was supposedly built on, freedom of speech.
Comics usually make fun of themselves before they make fun of anyone else. That’s why self-deprecating humor is so likable to an audience. We give people permission to laugh at us, and then they feel comfortable laughing at themselves. Amy’s been making herself the target of many of her jokes all along. The key thing about jokes is the intention behind them. We intuitively know when someone is trying to be mean-spirited, or when they’re coming from a place of “love.”
Amy doesn’t need anybody to defend her, because she didn’t do anything wrong, but comics are basically truth seekers, and I was curious to get the reaction from some of the Latino and Black comics that are on the scene and see what they thought about the whole thing, especially because the woman who wrote the Op Ed for the Washington Post article said that only white people are laughing at Amy’s jokes.
It almost made me feel racist having to avoid White comics and only looking for Black and Latino comics! LOL It felt like reverse racism because White comics wanted to weigh in as well, but I was forced to discriminate! Here’s what I was told:
Keith Robinson on Amy Schumer. That’s not who she is. She’s up there like any other comic telling jokes, so that’s that. We tell jokes, some of’ em hit, some of ’em miss, …comedy’s at that stage where people wanna make you a certain thing, … and no, of course she’s not a racist. It’s dumb to even bring that up. When there’s real racists and racism running in the streets and you pick a comic out on the stage tellin’ a joke, … that’s what it is, a joke. There’s real shit goin’ on! Real racists out there. Go find them. The kid that shot up that Church was a racist, Amy’s a comedian!”
Marina Franklin on Amy Schumer: Comedian Marina Franklin was with Keith Robertson when I talked with him, and said she totally agreed with everything he said!
Nore Davis on Amy Schumer: She’s definitely not a racist so that lady, whoever made those statements, [referring to Dr. Stacey Patton’s views expressed in our interview with her] does not know what stand-up is, or just took it out of context, and from what I read never even saw her act, so she really has no say in this whole matter. It probably blew up because people have really nothing else to focus on. They really just have self-hate in their own heart and they gotta bring it on somebody who’s just trying to bring joy to everybody else in the world.
So Amy’s definitely not a racist. I worked on her pilot with her and she’s a great person, and she’s a stand-up comedian, and that’s what we all are. It’s all love!
Greer Barnes on Amy Schumer: “… that joke that she does is absolutely brilliant. As a matter of fact a few jokes that she does that may seem racist to the uninformed are not and are all absolutely brilliant. We as Americans have turned into bitches almost. Like we can’t even really speak about what we did. If you go back and look at Richard Pryor and George Carlin and all these guys and what they’ve done, … that’s why we’re great. That’s why we’re the creators and the ones who came up with stand-up comedy.
Amy Schumer is a brilliant comedian who’s making us laugh at maybe our own ignorance. She is so far from racist. Like if you look at some of the stuff I do, it could be considered racist. America was built on the backs of slavery. Look at some of the Black comedians that do jokes. When we do our jokes about White people why are they not considered racist? What we’re doing is losing our essence of who we are as Americans. We’re getting really touchy, … P.C. and it’s had an ill effect on us as comedians, where if you look at a George Carlin or a Richard Pryor, they touched on all of that all the time and we laughed. Now it’s almost like, (goes into a scared, female voice) “Oh, I can’t laugh at that!” No, yeh, you can! Be an open minded person. You have to be because Americans are open minded. Our comedians are open-minded.
Stand-up comedy came from America, It didn’t start in France, it didn’t start in England, it didn’t start in Portugal and it definitely didn’t start in Spain. This is an American art form, … like jazz, like The Blues, like Hip Hop. Stop fuckin’ with my girl yo! Take whatever thoughts you have like that, roll it up, make it into a nice size tube, and SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS!
She is not by any means a racist! Nothing about what she said is racist. If you wanna talk look at some of the stuff these other comedians have said. Even myself. But we’re good with what we do. Henny Youngman could never do his “ Take my wife please” joke now. You can’t do a joke about disrespecting a woman these days. We’re changing as a people in America. I don’t know if it’s across the world, but we’re changing. We’re getting smarter. We’re knowing what is something that would make some group of people angry or upset, but it’s America. You can’t do this in Russia. You can shit all over Barack Obama, or George Bush. You can’t do that in certain nations.
Amy Schumer is as close to being a racist as you are, standing here listening to what I am saying, to Pluto. That’s how close of a racist she is. Amy Schumer ROCKS, … bitches!”
And then he walked away and came back a few minutes later, and asked me if he made his point or if I needed him to say more! I told him I think he made his point!
Rell Battle on Amy Schumer: “I think it’s just over the top P.C. culture. The joke was funny. A joke like that is supposed get your eyes open a little bit. It’s supposed to be humor. The people in the crowd continue to love it. She’s one of the best comics in the country. She’s definitely the hottest comic in the country right now. And nobody in the comedy world thinks it’s offensive in any way. It’s just people who need something to blog about.
She’s dope man, and tomorrow’s gonna be another story, and everybody’s gonna jump on that. So that’s kinda what it is in this era of comedy right now. People are so on guard. People just sit and wait for something to happen. She happens to be one of the faces of comedy now if not THE face of comedy, so everything she says is gonna be over-analyzed. Whoever the next person is it’s gonna be the same thing. People over-analyzed Seinfeld just for saying that the world is P.C. now. So people have the right to criticize and comics have the right not to give a damn and keep on doin’ what we do.
Monroe Martin on Amy Schumer: She’s not a racist because she’s allowed to express herself artistically. As long as the intent is funny, you can say whatever you want. I heard the joke, it was a few years ago and it was hilarious. The audience was Black, White, Latino, and Asian and no one at the show complained.
Racism is when you say something with the intent to try and hurt that group of people. She doesn’t truly believe that. It’s just a joke. We’re allowed to make jokes. That joke was a hilarious joke. It catches you off guard. It plays with the stereotype that most close-minded people believe, and the reason why that person probably thiought it was racist is because the person who read that, or heard that just ignored that that is a stereotype. And stereotypes whether they’re true or not, it’s alright to laugh at them, because it’s satire, and you’re laughing at it cause you’re going … either it’s ridiculous or it’s true, … and that person who said that it’s racist is just too sensitive and they probably got something to hide.
Ricky Velez on Amy Schumer: Amy’s not a racist , she’s just a funny person. I don’t even understand where the thought of Amy being racist would come from. Everybody just enjoys being a victim too much right now, and comics get attacked for it. That’s really how I feel about it.
In closing, I probably know Amy for more than 10 years and have always known her to be a wonderful, sweet, hardworking, extremely funny person who deserves all the acclaim and fame she’s receiving, and does NOT deserve being tarnished with the horrible epithet of “racist.” Show your support by going to see Trainwreck! In theaters Friday July 17!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel.