Ricky Gervais, Seinfeld, and Louis C.K. N-Word Video Upsets Social Media But What Do Other Comics Think!?

A clip from the 2011 HBO special “Talking Funny” is upsetting the internet this weekend. The video shows Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Seinfeld and Ricky Gervais talking about the N-word. At one point or another in the video, everyone uses the word except Seinfeld, who says he never has used it on stage.

Chris Rock and Louis C.K. comfortably use the word in conversation. Gervais is dragged in after laughing hysterically at Louis’ comfort with the word, and blurts it out like a little kid who can’t believe his friend is using forbidden swear words.

In the video Chris Rock says about Louis C.K., “He’s the blackest white guy I fucking know. In all the negative things we think about black people, this fucker…” At this point Louis jumps in saying “You’re saying I’m a n****r? We say n****r on stage. You guys don’t,” C.K. said. At this point Gervais bursts out laughing and said, “Who says n****r? We don’t.”

The fury seems to have blown up when Atlantic writer Jemele Hill tweeted the video on Saturday with a seeming critique of Chris Rock for his acquiesence to a white guy saying n—er.  “I know black folks who are completely comfortable with white people saying the n-word in their presence,” she wrote. Have had to tell a few white folks that I’m not that black person. Still it says something the only person who was uncomfortable was Seinfeld.” She continued in a second tweet, “Note how proud Ricky Gervais was of the fact he used the n-word. And Louis CK basically said he’s one because black folks ain’t shit. Chris Rock is getting crucified, but those other two deserve massive smoke.”  A third tweet adds “It’s quite clear that even if Chris Rock wasn’t born, Gervais and Louis CK were going to be using the n-word. Black people never have and never will give white folks permission to call us that. That’s the jig. We get blamed for their use of it like they ever need our approval.”

Even before Hill tweeted, podcaster Joe Budden had sent out a link with the clip focusing his anger on Rock, calling Seinfeld “the real G here”.

The criticism picked up steam from there when Vulture posted a story about the video, focusing on Louis C.K.’s involvement. The Vulture headline dripped with hatred for Louis C.K.- at one time a hero of sorts for the site- that is until Louis admitted to sexual misconduct late in 2017. “If You Need Another Reason to Dislike Louis C.K., Here’s An Old Video of Him Saying the N-Word,” the headline read.

Others picked up where Hill left off, including Kathy Griffen who jumped in almost immediately with one of her infamous multi part tweets, and making it somewhat about herself, or at least her group, adding that she felt there was a “bros before hoes” aspect to the clip.  “If these were female comics, well…,” she wrote trailing off.

Now the story is everywhere, but is it really a story at all? Well, the story is all in the reactions and this new debate that has arisen this month about whether we should be mining through old videos, tweets, and other archival records and call out past behavior that is in contravention of current societal expectations. Twitter did it with Kevin Hart when he was announced as the host of the Academy Awards this year. We did it with Judge Kavanaugh, questioning him about his yearbook quotes and behavior in high school. Looking back at old behavior isn’t really new but examining and judging people for language used in years past seems to be a product of 2018.

Most comedians had a different take on the clip.

Tanael Joachim for example wrote “Chris Rock spends his life doing things against racism, talking about racism, helping other black comics. But he’s a villain? Seinfeld who’s never particularly cared about racial injustice is a hero for not partaking? This fake “woke” thing is making yall dumb. Really dumb.” Later he adds, “There’s another conversation to be had. Maybe CR doesn’t feel Louis was being racist in that moment. Black people aren’t supposed to feel the same way about everything. And Chris Rock grew up in BK in the 60s. He knows more racism than both of us combined.”

Curtis Cook who writes for the Jim Jefferies show wrote “Them: I watched a clip of Louis CK, Ricky Gervais, and Chris Rock. Much to my surprise, they used offensive words. Me: Oh. You must not know anything about comedy. Them: And it turns out Jerry Seinfeld is woke! Me: Oh yeah. You definitely don’t know anything about comedy.”

Pete Lee wrote “I hope you get all the attention that your parents didn’t give you as a child from social media, because of your post about being outraged by that clip of @ChrisRock from back in 2012. It’s all about you.”

Eagle Witt asks, “Are black ppl actually mad about this Chris Rock thing? Orrrrr are white people just writing that black ppl are mad?”

Comedy writer Sara Dahms added, “@vulture has apparently never seen Bring the Pain! These guys were referring to one of Chris Rock’s most famous bits. They were talking comedy. If you don’t speak that language, get out of the conversation!!!”

Scroll down below to see some reactions from comics.


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