Friday, January 26, 2007

Knock it off, Chuck Knipp

I found this video on YouTube after a Jasmyne Cannick post prompted me to search there. (I was going to embed but the freeze-frame happens on an ugly scene, I really don't want that up here, so you're going to have to follow the link).

If you haven't seen this Shirley Q. Liquor act, it's done by Chuck Knipp, a white gay man who dresses up as a straight Black woman (in blackface). This character is an "ignunt" "happy-go-lucky mother of 19 children" who, according to Knipp, "is not afraid to embrace every cultural stereotype and subvert them for her own purpose". Knipp portrays her as an irresponsible, incoherent alcoholic, and if you look through the rest of the YouTube library of Shirley Q. Liquor, there's a whole lot of grossness involved. Read a good article about the performance by Keith Boykin.

I seriously hope Knipp isn't ignunt enough himself to think that he's doing any sort of favor to the Black or the gay communities. As a gay man he should understand thing or two about context. When such a performance is done (in fact, when any performance is done), every joke, every line, every word is itself a symbol designed to bring certain images to the audience's mind. This applies to simple words like "banana" making people think of the fruit (or a penis, I guess) to the symbol of blackface making people think of those old Vaudeville acts that used it to demean Black people. It applies to Eddie Murphy's homophobic "comedy" in order to justify every negative stereotype of gay people out there to Knipp telling jokes that sound like pages out of the Republican's old Southern Strategy.

Moral of the story is that Knipp is bringing more baggage into his act than he chooses to acknowledge. While it's theoretically possible that it could be funny to speak poorly, wear bad make-up, or make tired jokes about waking up late, when done by a white man performing in blackface, its subtext is white supremacy. Keith Boykin says:
If the results are to be believed, just 4 percent think the site needs "less offensive" humor. That may tell you a lot about Knipp's audience.

And this isn't helping out the pervasive stereotype that gay people are rich, white, elitist racists, either, which is probably why the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is against the performance as well. It's not to hard to see the effect of something like this on the ability of voters, judges, and Congress members to buy into silly arguments about how gays are too rich to need equality, too snooty to condescend to give back.

Take a minute to sign the petition against Knipp's performance.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it enough for you just not to go to the show? Do you have to try and stop people who actually have a sense of humor from enjoying a performance by a comedic genius?
You clearly hate free speech and comedy, my friend.

Anonymous said...

would it be okay if dave chappell did the same act?

James Parsley AZ2 US Navy said...

Dave Chappel did do the same act. As a KKK member. I thought it was funny as hell. I also think Shirley Q. Liquor is funny. Because it is true humor. There are many IGNUNT people out there like that. White, black, you name it. Screw it. Make fun of them. It is humor and freedom of speech. You don't like it, don't listen. As active duty Navy, I fight for people to have that damn freedom. Not for you to pull a race card out and take it away. You and everyone that has signed that petition needs to do the rest of us who cherish freedom a favor: GET THE HELL OUT OF THIS COUNTRY.

Anonymous said...

Amid your bitching about the unfairness of stereotyping, you insert your own stereotypes about Southerners and republicans. Hmmmmm... Lighten up, jerk.

Anonymous said...

SHUT UP NOW. All of my friends, including my blck friends find that Shirley Q. Liquor is outrageous! We love it! Chuck if you read this, keep the Liquor coming! You're amazing and you make us laugh time adn time again!

Kieya said...

Thank you for writing this piece, as late as I may be to responding to it. As an American, we have this wonderful thing called Freedom of Speech. If KKK members can hold parades up and down public streets, then we should be able to publicly disagree with any performance we see as hurtful, disrespectful & racist. Knipp does not know what its like to be a black woman, he only knows of stereotypes that he is quick to put on display, oh what a novel concept, how original of him. As a black woman, I find nothing about it amusing.

Neon said...

I just went to Chuck Knipp's Facebook page. Out of the photos of almost 500 "Friends", only one person was black.

Anonymous said...

I think I'll pretend to be black and confess I love the man's work in a feeble attempt to prove a point.

hwhatzupp228 said...

Let me ask u something. old tyler perry. do u think that he knows anything about being a black woman. right i thought so. so is what tyler perry puts on movies also racist. or because he is black its ok. and dave chappelle he makes fun of white ppl. Theres nothing wrong with that a joke is a joke. nothing more nothing less.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I just spent a couple of hours watching all the Shirley Q Liquor vids I could find, read the bio of the creator and thought it was all great.

You are very sad person with no sense of humor. If you can't laugh at both "You might be a redneck if..." by Foxworthy and Shirley Q Liquor by Chuck Knipp, then you might be an uptight person a serious racial chip on your shoulder. Humor comes in all colors, and BOTH comedy pros mix in some truth with their bits. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Ice Cube
Ghostface Killah
Gucci Mane
R Kelly