Michael Brown & Ezell Ford: Why Black Comedians Aren’t Laughing

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Because it’s not funny.

 To read more by Dewayne Perkins and Ali Barthwell, please click…

Fine, fine. We’ll write more.

At The Second City, we use comedy and satire to expose the flaws of society. This week, the untimely and tragic deaths of two young black men, Ezell Ford and Michael Brown, at the hands of the police are more than the flaws of society.

They are a painful reminder of the way this country operates. American society was created and designed to criminalize and dehumanize black men and women.

And as comedians, who happen to be black men and women, we just haven’t found the funny yet. What’s scarier is that we don’t know if we’ll ever find the funny in the deaths of Brown and Ford and the countless others–with and without names–who were found guilty of being black at the wrong place and the wrong time.

Comedy can be a tool to work through discomfort and speak truth to power, but the discomfort has become pain, and the truth is too serious to even begin to bear. It can be very difficult to get on stage as black comedians in front of audiences who might be more willing to laugh at us than with us.

Stepping on stage and performing the truth that black lives aren’t valuable and our deaths aren’t considered important could be more tragedy than comedy. It’s asking a lot of black comedians to dig deep and find a shred of laughter in a series of events that is more likely to make us cry than giggle so soon after seeing two brilliant and worthwhile lives cut short. So just give us a minute, we guess.

If we find the comedy or the ironic truth…Dewayne erased the rest of this article because he said he’s tired of teaching adults things they can learn by doing a fucking Google search. He said, “We are comedians, not professors. So instead, here’s a joke:”

“What do you call a black man in Walmart playing with a toy gun? An ambulance…because he probably just got shot by a cop.”

Oh, wait. That’s not a joke. That was last week’s news.

Dewayne Perkins (@dewayneperkins) is a Second City Bob Curry Fellowship alum and performs with The Second City Training Center House Ensemble Twisty. You can catch him in The Second City’s Deep Cuts in the UP Comedy Club this fall. Find out more about him at dewayneperkins.com.

Ali Barthwell is a Chicagoland native and Wellesley alumna. She tweets about her life and her shoes @wtflanksteak.