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Upgrade Comedy

Comedian Tim Reid:

Obama's election represents a challenge to comedians who deal in racial humor. With a confident, eloquent black man in the White House, along with a beautiful, accomplished wife and two impossibly adorable children, can any young black comic possibly still do jokes about bitches and 'hos?

Won't the very audiences they're trying to reach rebel and say, 'Wait a minute -- we're past that now. It's not how we are going to be represented any more'?

The same is true about exaggerated black speech that is a staple of so many acts, the kind of 'yo mama' shtick that has its roots in Amos and Andy. If the rappers want to continue dealing in it, that's one thing, but as a way to get automatic laughs? How long will it continue to work?

We're entering an era in which racial comedy will have to deal with creative thought rather than relying on the casual repeated use of the F word, the N word and the rest of the slackers' alphabet. In this changing frontier, how will we construct the new bases for racial humor?

I'm hoping that David Alan Grier's "Chocolate News", which is the latest incarnation of "black people do this, but white people do THIS" is a lagging indicator of this kind of lazy comedy on its last legs.