If I had my druthers*, here’s what I’d do.
I’d hire Kevin Spacey and the production crew behind House of Cards to shoot a public service announcement.
It would look something like this.
*druthers, by the way, is shorthand for “if any of my creative projects go massively huge and I suddenly have the means to be financially independent,” which itself is bourgie shorthand for, “if I win the lottery.”
So here’s the deal.
I’ve been doing comedy for about two years now (actually writing comedy for three years, performing it for two) and the bit that I personally think is my best is one that I like to call “Racist Superheroes.”
Now unfortunately, I don’t perform in venues often where I can get good video, so I don’t have a good recording of this bit yet (though there are plenty of others you can watch — and besides, I can’t give away the whole store, otherwise you have no incentive to come out and see me live).
However, I haven’t done much writing about my comedy yet, and recently a friend was asking me about how I come up with my routines. Given that I’m scheduled to give a talk on this very subject at the Faith & Culture Writer’s Conference in a few weeks, I figured this post would be a good way to get the juices flowing and give you an insider view on what my creative process looks like.
So now, it’s official.
The NBA has selected DeMarcus Cousins to take the place of the injured Kobe Bryant, which means that we can officially say that Damian Lillard, master of the step-back three, end-of-game assassin, and the object of countless internet memes, like this:
…has officially been snubbed from the 2015 NBA All-Star team.
This is, according not only to Portland fans but knowledgeable pundits around the league (including TNT’s “Inside the NBA” resident curmudgeon and non-jumpshooting-team-supporter Charles Barkley) a ridiculous miscarriage of justice, deserving not only of all manner of shrill internet complaints, but in the case of the Portland police department, an actual robbery investigation.
Not to take anything away from other players, but across the blogosphere and the Twitterverse, the consensus is that Lillard well-deserving of this All-Star nod. And it’s important to remember that despite the league’s fan-based selection process, the All-Star Game is not just a popularity contest, but an important progress metric in the overall career trajectory of an NBA player. Getting snubbed for an All-Star team is like being passed-over for a well-deserved promotion at the office. And it doesn’t matter whether this happens in a small office or on the brightest stage of professional sports, people will notice.
So yes, Lillard was robbed. Among reasonable people, there is virtually no disagreement.
Where I do differ from the masses, however, is in how Lillard can, should, or will respond.
I recently started writing for a publication called Off the Page, from the creators of the popular Our Daily Bread devotional series. It’s a new forum for me to start talking about my favorite examples from pop culture and to show how the Bible can be relevant to everyday life. Anyway, I thought it might be important for any new readers to get a sense of who I am if they’re new to my writing, so I wrote this piece as an introduction.
You know how sitcoms always have that one episode full of flashbacks?
Growing up, I always loved those to watch those episodes, mostly because they always included scenes I hadn’t seen yet. I didn’t grow up with DVRs or video on demand, so the only way I could ensure that I saw every episode of my favorite series was to make sure I was in front of the TV at the same time every week — which rarely happened. (And that was assuming my behavior was good enough to warrant TV-watching-privileges that day.)
So yeah, those clip shows were always showing me what I’d missed along the way.
(Editor’s Note: Yes, the title is a bit clickbaitey, but hang with me. I’ll back it up.)
Yesterday, Andraé Crouch slipped into eternity, present in full with the Lord, in perfect peace.
I’ve been half suspecting, half dreading that this day would come for a while now, and yet now that it has, I still feel completely unprepared — probably because it’s hard for me to imagine a musical landscape where Andraé Crouch was not still creating such soul-stirring, inventive, revolutionary music.
Part of the reason why it’s always profoundly bothered me when I hear someone make the blanket declaration that “Christian music sucks” is that it never tracked with my reality.
Because how could it? Sure, my parents played Earth Wind & Fire like any self-respecting Black people did, but my childhood musical diet consisted mostly of Christian music, from luminaries like The Winans, Walter, Edwin & Tramaine Hawkins, The Imperials, and then much later, Commissioned (then eventually as a teen and college student, Fred Hammond). But towering above them all was Andraé Crouch, a man who I would later come to realize was a musician’s musician — that is, the kind of musician that other great musicians consulted, collaborated with, and gathered around.
It seems altogether coincidental that on that day that most of the blogosphere has been continuing to come to terms with the growing, controversial specter of truth behind the myriad rape allegations leveled against Bill Cosby — a day so full of bittersweet reverie that the term “throwback Thursday” seems so wonderfully appropriate despite such quaint understatement — that I ended it by watching the fall finale of the ABC hit drama, “How to Get Away With Murder.”
It seems that way because, well, it is, mostly, a coincidence.
I happen to like the show quite a bit, actually. I started watching mostly out of curiosity, and also because Viola Davis has been far and away the best thing in pretty much everything I’ve seen her in since The Help. And since I was also a fan of Shonda Rhimes’ second megahit “Scandal,” and because I try to support quality black entertainment with my clicks and views, I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s been kind of uneven, and there’s been too many tawdry sex scenes, but I am still enthralled with the central premise, which, like Snakes On A Plane, is neatly encapsulated in the title.
One of the great ironies of Justin Simien’s masterful directorial debut, Dear White People, which released in theaters nationwide this last weekend, is that although it’s aimed at white people, it’s not about white people.
And just now as I was writing, I was tempted to use another, less weaponized-sounding verb, but truly, “aimed” is the right choice, because Dear White People is relentless in its depiction of white people as alternately clueless, ambivalent or calculatingly sinister regarding the racial issues on display at fictional ivy-league school Winchester University. And I mean that as a compliment.
In ways both obvious and subtle, it makes Big Important Pronouncements about race, and then uses those pronouncements both as occasional comedic sketch premises, but also as plot devices to flesh out the emotional development of its main characters, all of whom are either black or biracial. The combination of the two, the thematic heavy-handedness modulated by a playful tone of nimble vignettes with varying emotional intensity… it’s quite a balancing act to pull off, akin to performing surgery with a shotgun.
Okay, so let me fess up, right off the top.
That is a horrible, clickbaity title, a ridiculous, derivative and obvious reference, comparing two TV shows that couldn’t be more different if one of them were set on a different planet.
But they have one thing in common, that thing that most successful TV shows manage to pull off with some level of success. They can take a specific cultural situation and make it broad and relatable enough for people outside to appreciate and understand it, and by the same token, take basic and timeless themes and filter them through the lens of a specific perspective and worldview. They make the specific general, and the general specific.
Okay, that sounds bad. It sounds like I’m saying that Facebook is a racist place, which is bad because Facebook is filled with all manner of people, many of whom are not racist, and plus… it’s not even a place.
Although that makes me think of this R-rated Chappelle’s Show sketch imagining if the internet were a real place.
I’m sorry, where was I?
Perhaps I should start over.