The League

Gene Weingarten
Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist

Gene Weingarten

Washington Post humorist and host of Chatological Humor

Just Not Funny

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I think ethnic humor can be hilarious. Some of my favorite jokes are ethnic jokes, at the expense of various racial and/or ethnic groups, and no, I won't tell them here. The reason I won't tell them here is because I don't know who is listening, so I don't know if the jokes will be taken as intended: comments on the silliness of stereotype.League readers don't know me. They don't know if I'm a racist or not. I wouldn't have, nor would I deserve, the benefit of the doubt.

There's one exception, in my case: Ethnic jokes at the expense of Jews. I'll tell a Jew joke to this audience because I am Jewish. I'm not absolutely inoculated from the charge of antisemitism, but I do get the benefit of the doubt. So, for example:

Q; Why do Jews wear yarmulkes?

A: Because those little propellers cost extra.

See? Okay! Funny!

You think you see where I am going here, but you do not.

My point is that those two black athlete guys, Martellus and Michael Bennett, get the benefit of the doubt, something of great value that they then proceeded to squander.

Why? Because their video (may be offensive to some audiences) doesn't pass the second test. If you want a pass on edgy humor, you have to be funny. To be defended as humor, it has to BE humor. This video is just jerky. They didn't give half a second's time to making it funny or clever. It's sloppy. It's ham-fisted. They had no script, they didn't rehearse, they couldn't even get straight between themselves whether the Kool-Aid race was about quantity or speed. It was thudding, lackadaisical, off-the-mark humor. It didn't fail so much as it never really tried. Therefore, it was merely provocation for the sake of provocation, and it gets no benefit of any doubt. It's not satire, it's crap -- ergo it gets no artistic protection and it may quite rightly be called tasteless.

By Gene Weingarten  |  July 16, 2009; 7:41 AM ET  | Category:  Dallas Cowboys , NFL , Race Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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So what? It's tasteless or not it got your attention. If Jewish brothers made a similar video I doubt you would bother to comment. However you must come to the defense of the black man. Are they so weak that they require your defense? Are they women?

Posted by: ram_xxx_ram | July 16, 2009 10:43 AM

To those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Weingarten, here is half of what he has said or written in the last ten years:

Questioner: Is this funny, Gene?
Gene: No, it is not. Let me use this opportunity to explain to you the nature of humor. You see, a sense of humor is a measurement of the extent to which we realize that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason...

Unfortunately for all of us, Gene is absolutely right again on this one.

Posted by: TheNathan | July 16, 2009 2:16 PM

For those of you who ARE familiar with Mr. Weingarten, here is all of what he has said or written in the last ten years:

1) Gene is not funny
2) Gene hates Christians and non-Democrats.
3) Any 4th Grade bodily function joke. See 1.

No, Gene, you don't make jokes on ethnic groups. You use the cover of journalism to bash those you disagree politically with in a bigoted, and often meanspirited, manner. You are a bigot.

No wonder the WaPo has to shill for your love, Obama, and sell your services a la the streetwalkers who fascinate you instead of practicing good old fashioned journalism.

Seeya at the next "Salon for Sale."

Posted by: mmmmm999999m34e56ee91099 | July 16, 2009 8:36 PM

The reality of that video is that it is no worse and no more tasteless and no less funny than Howard Stern when his running gags run dry. What they did wasn't cool, but South Park, Family Guy, shock jocks, Lisa Lampenelli and to a lesser extent the Farelly Brothers already broke through the taste barrier. I honestly, really do believe that these guys are held to a higher standard because of their race and that white comedians are allowed to be far more tasteless and crass than this and are rewarded for it.

Gene Weingarten is not, unfortunately, a good judge of humor or talented writer/sociologist. Our culture has not quite made newspapers irrelevant, so people still look to a middle class newspaper writer for such commentary, while the real talents are CEOs of their own online comedy companies. I think it's safe to say that someone with something to say is not going to work for a corporation in 2009. All newspaper writers are failures in that regard, so I'm giving everyone permission to stop trying to refute Weingarten's "expert" status when he has none. Come on, in 5 years there will be maybe 25 daily newspapers left in the USA. You have my permission to stop treating a newspaper writer like an expert and pity his poor career trajectory in an online world.

I really think, I honestly think, that these two are being held to an unfair if not racist (I know, the irony) double standard that white morning radio hosts crossed in the early 1990s.

I don't like ANY of that humor, but this is nothing worse than Howard Stern.

Posted by: bbcrock | July 17, 2009 6:38 AM

Weingarten commenting on humor is like a blind man commenting on cinematography.

Posted by: dgblues | July 17, 2009 8:10 AM

Shorter Gene Weingarten:

"It's funny if it makes fun of people who don't like Obama."

Posted by: wapo9 | July 17, 2009 9:59 AM

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