List of contemporary comedians using blackface
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oooh, orphan The style known as blackface in which an actor or entertainer dons black make-up and sometimes affect a caricature of a racial stereotype is widely seen as dated, and confined to archive performances from the likes of Al Jolson and G.H.Elliott. However the style saw a resurgence in the 1990s and is still used in an ironic or postmodern way by some comedians. Thus they often ridicule the idea of blackface or minstrelsy rather than blacks themselves. Some recent examples of blackface work by modern comedians include the following. The context is important as this style differs from that used by the entertainers of the early twentieth century and before:
- The Goodies The Goodies realise that the viewing figure (ratings) of the Black and White Minstrel Show halved when blacking up was abandoned, and realise that they can double the viewing figures of any television programme (such as The Six Million Dollar Man) by making half the performers "black up."
- The Monty Python team. In Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) John Cleese used blackface to play one of the three wise men and in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1984), Terry Gilliam used facial prosthetics for a blackface appearance as a Zulu tribesman. In one of the episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus, Eric Idle donned blackface as part of a sketch on an Attila the Hun sitcom.
- Harry Enfield in Norbert Smith - a Life (The context was playing an aging actor in his decline, in turn playing Nelson Mandela) and again in Harry & Paul playing Nelson Mandela.
- Hugh Laurie in Jeeves and Wooster (Series 2, Episode 5) Wooster performs in an amateur minstrel troupe.
- Operation Good Guys (Twice - The first context was racially naïve policemen attempting to understand minorities by dressing up as members of those groups. The second was putting on a show including a minstrel act).
- Rory Bremner The impressionist often appears in blackface to play newsreader and presenter Sir Trevor McDonald.
- The League of Gentlemen (comedy) series has a regular character Papa Lazarou who is a circus owner in blackface. The final episode reveals that the apparent blackface is, in fact, his natural appearance.
- Little Britain. In a 2003 episode, Matt Lucas and David Walliams are seen to be two minstrels living together hearing an alarming announcement on the radio of plans by the Home Secretary to send Minstrels back to Minstrel Land. In the third series (2005), David Walliams wears blackface (and a fatsuit) to play a character called "Desiree".
- Harmony Korine In Stop for a Minute short entitled Korine Tap. Korine is pictured tap dancing in blackface in his backyard, with actor Johnny Depp.
- Saturday Night Live features Fred Armisen, who plays U.S. President Barack Obama in sketches in a lightly toned variation of blackface (often called "honeyface").
- "Blacking up" was not permitted by Stars in Their Eyes (a British television talent program), and impersonating stars outside of race was not encouraged by the producers although they did allow skin tone to be changed slightly.
- Erik van Muiswinkel is a famous Dutch comedian who plays Zwarte Piet.
- "Santa’s helpers, in blackface, ignite a controversy in the Netherlands". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/santas-helpers-in-blackface-ignite-a-controversy-in-the-netherlands/2013/11/17/78999870-4d49-11e3-bf60-c1ca136ae14a_story.html. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
- "The Dutch don’t think it’s racist for Santa to have black slaves". Quartz. http://qz.com/307305/the-dutch-dont-think-its-racist-for-santa-to-have-black-slaves/. Retrieved 10 December 2014.