Don’t Call Me Resilient

What’s so funny about race?

Episode Summary

A lot of comedians we know and love put race, ethnicity and cultural stereotypes at the centre of their comedy. This gives us - the audience - reason to laugh…and a way to release some of the tensions around race. Where is the line between a lighthearted joke and deep-rooted racism? And how far is too far? Vinita gets into it with Faiza Hirji, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Media Arts at McMaster University and stand-up comedian Andrea Jin. They look at how comedy can be an easier way to talk about difficult issues, and at how we can find a way to laugh with each other, rather than at each other.

Episode Notes

A lot of us turn to comedians we know and love to help us laugh at ourselves, our communities or the overwhelm of politics. Just look at the beautiful accolades received by Trevor Noah this month as he bade goodbye to his Daily Show audiences.

Noah and other comedians like Roy Wood Jr., Mindy Kaling, Ali Wong, Chris Rock, and Hasan Minhaj put race and other sensitive issues at the centre of their comedy. This gives us - the audience - reason to laugh, whether the jokes are directed towards us or not. It’s a way to release some of the tensions around some serious issues.

As comedy evolves, where is the line between a lighthearted joke and deep-rooted racism? And how far is too far?

In this episode, we get into it with Faiza Hirji, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Media Arts at McMaster University and award-winning stand-up comedian Andrea Jin. They look at how comedy can be an easier way to talk about difficult issues, and at how we can find a way to laugh with each other  — rather than at each other. 

The psychology behind laughing at jokes can be traced back many years. While Hobbes and Plato suggested that making fun helps us feel superior, Kant thought about it more as a cognitive shift from a serious situation into playful territory. More recently, psychologist Daniela S. Hugelshofer showed how humour acts as a buffer against hopelessness and depression.

According to marketing psychologist Peter McGraw, who runs the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder, the “Benign Violation theory” needs to be satisfied for us to find something funny. That is, for a joke to be funny, there needs to be a social or cultural violation and it must be benign.

Follow and Listen

You can listen to or follow Don’t Call Me Resilient on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts. We’d love to hear from you, including any ideas for future episodes. Join The Conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok and use #DontCallMeResilient.

Articles in the Conversation

Read more: Goodbye Apu -- here's what you meant to us

Read more: Mindy Kaling's 'Never Have I Ever' makes me feel hopeful about representation, gender and race

Read more: Psychology behind the unfunny consequences of jokes that denigrate

Read more: Roseanne Barr: saying 'it's a joke' is no defence for racism

Read more: 'I wanna be white!' Can we change race?

Read more: Stand-up comics should concentrate on being funny: so don't take offence if they are

Read more: Deadly Funny -- a new brand of Australian comedy

Read more: What's so funny about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander humour?

Don’t Call Me Resilient is produced in partnership with the Journalism Innovation Lab at the University of British Columbia and with a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Episode Transcription

Unedited Transcript 


[00:00:00] Vinita: From The Conversation this is, Don't Call Me Resilient. I'm Vinita Srivastava.

[00:00:11] Faiza: Although in some ways I think being a comedian really subjects you to a lot of criticism because of the nature of the work. I think it's really amazing to see how many comedian. Who talk about race, talk about serious political issues, have really mobilized around that.

[00:00:26] Faiza: So yes, some of the humor makes them money and makes them famous, but I think it's really interesting too that they are grappling with issues that perhaps would otherwise be taboo in their communities.

[00:00:38] Vinita: Trevor Noah, Mindy Kaling, Ali Wong, Dave Chappelle, Russell Peters, all these comedians and so many more put race and culture at the center of their comedy.

[00:00:49] Vinita: They let us laugh at ourselves. They let us laugh at our communities. Still, these can be sensitive topics. How do we draw the line between comedy and racism and how far is too far? Faiza Hirji is here with me today to talk about all of this and more. She's an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Media Arts at McMaster University.

[00:01:15] Vinita: Her research has focused on race-based comedy and the politics of representation of South Asian. In popular culture, Andrea Jin is also with us. Andrea's an LA based comedian who was born in China and raised in Vancouver. This year, Andrea won a junior award for her comedy album, grandma's Girl, and she recently made her late night TV debut on the Late Late Show with James Corden, who called her a brilliant standup comedian.

[00:01:45] Vinita: Welcome, Faiza and Andrea. Thanks for joining me. Thank. Hi, thank you. Since this is an episode about humor, I wanted to start with some comedy. And Andrea, this is a clip of You on the Late Late Show. Oh, talking about being bisexual. So I took a very little short clip from it. It's something

[00:02:06] Andrea: I rejected as a part of myself for a long time though because of my, my culture.

[00:02:11] Andrea: Um, I feel like Asian people are a very repressed people. That's why our food tastes so good, because it's just generations of people like pushing it, like Asian people pushing it down, right? Like not letting their feelings. Because that's how you seal in the flavor

[00:02:33] Andrea: That's how you put soup into dumplings. Okay.

[00:02:37] Vinita: to me that there's so much in that clip. You're talking about bisexuality, but you're also making fun of your culture. Do you ever worry about making fun of your culture?

[00:02:47] Andrea: I think at the beginning I never worried about that because I was just trying to.

[00:02:54] Andrea: introduce myself and like showcase who I am and, and just get whatever's funniest about me and most unique about me out there. Something that would like set me apart, especially cuz like not a lot of people were watching me anyway, , like as an amateur, you know? But as my audience grows, Definitely something I think about more because what I say and what I do has more impact now.

[00:03:22] Andrea: Like Asian people came up to me and said that I encouraged them to come out and be queer and explore their sexuality a lot more. I just didn't think that would be something that comes with doing comedy, and I was just very surprised and, and happy to hear.

[00:03:43] Vinita: You weren't thinking of yourself as a role

[00:03:45] Andrea: model or not role model, but just like influential enough that I would impact someone's life in that way.

[00:03:53] Andrea: Where they would change something as huge as you know, like coming out.

[00:03:57] Vinita: Do you ever feel worried about talking about your grandma in this context? ,

[00:04:02] Andrea: it's funny. I never worry about it until. people say like, should, should you be worried? And then I think, wait, should I be worried? And then I, and then I like, will talk to my grandma and I'll be like, nah, it's not a big deal.

[00:04:16] Andrea: I do live with my grandparents. And okay, so we are immigrants and they do this thing where they always have to have. 34 bags of rice at home. That's the number that makes 'em feel safe. . Yeah. And it's not the little bags that you guys buy. It's obvious through my standup, like the kind of character she is, like my grandparents and my mom.

[00:04:38] Andrea: They're such characters that they just have to be showcased. And it's not up to them . It's not up to them. It's up to me. It's almost like my story to. So I, I'm not that worried.

[00:04:53] Vinita: Do you know how she feels

[00:04:54] Andrea: about it? Well, she doesn't speak English, so I don't think she knows anything that I say, but I th I feel like if she were to know, she probably wouldn't be super happy, but nothing horrible, like nothing, she couldn't get over.

[00:05:09] Andrea: I think she would just be like kind of embarrassed. like, but in a, in a way where she'll just like giggle about it and she'll be like, oh, I can't believe you said that about us and , and like, people are gonna think you're mean to me. And I'm like, okay, but I'm not, so it's fine. All she's worried about would be probably perception of me.

[00:05:29] Vinita: How are people gonna think about you? Not about her.

[00:05:32] Andrea: Yeah, exactly. But that's comedy, that's standup. Like, yeah. Yeah. You just mean thoughts.

[00:05:40] Vinita: So Faiza, you heard the laughter in that clip. What can laughing together about race and culture do for

[00:05:46] Faiza: us? Well, I think when it's something like the clip you just played from Andrea, it can really create a sense of community and validation. So a sense that somebody else has these experiences that I've had, and they can put it into a funny anecdote.

[00:06:00] Faiza: So, For many of us, the cultural characteristics that have defined us can sometimes be a source of shame, I think. And so when you find somebody who can turn this into a funny story, make it into something relatable, I think that that can really create a sense of affirmation. . And so that's the very positive side of it.

[00:06:21] Faiza: It's not always necessarily positive, but in the example that you gave of Andrea's work, I think it does have that effect. But in the work of somebody like Russell Peters, I think a lot of his appeal, especially to South Asian Canadians has been that ability for him to mine the Indian accents and the funny characteristics and make that into something humorous and something relatable.

[00:06:43] Russel Peters: And don't think for one minute that we don't know that you're mocking us when we're not around . It's an accent. We're not.

[00:06:50] Russel Peters: Don't think when we walk in a Home Depot go, hello, I'm looking for paint. Yeah, it's right down that aisle over there, sir.

[00:07:00] Russel Peters: Hey Jim. Did you hear that guys? He's looking for paint, paint. Paint.

[00:07:07] Faiza: I also think of the Palestinian Canadian comedian Eman El-husseini. I'm not Palestinian, but when she cracks jokes about her body hair, I think that these are all very relatable and take anecdotes that could be in some way hurtful. Some of us, especially South Asians, don't feel great at times about.

[00:07:26] Faiza: Being teased about our body hair, for instance, or being teased about still being single at a certain age. But it makes it relatable and it makes it funny and it makes it a shared bonding kind of experience. So that's the positive side.

[00:07:37] Eman El-husseini: Thank you. Cause I swear to God, sometimes I feel like you could describe an Arab woman's life in two words, marriage and waxing.

[00:07:44] Eman El-husseini: Like that's it. We're hairy white people. I'm sorry,

[00:07:47] Eman El-husseini: I'm sorry.

[00:07:48] Vinita: I like the, the idea that you're talking about, which is this idea of insider, you know, this insider comedy, but also. The thing, Andrea, that I really appreciate about what you do is it's this universality that you bring to it, even though it's very specific.

[00:08:03] Vinita: It's also, I think everybody can relate to those kinds of ideas of like a quirky family member, but what does performing this type of comedy do for you as a standup? . I

[00:08:17] Andrea: think it lets me appreciate everything a lot more, the good and the bad. As a child of immigrant in an immigrant household, there's a lot of.

[00:08:30] Andrea: Pros and cons, like I feel like as you're living through it, you feel like, oh, why is this happening to me? Why is my life so different? Why can't I just be some like white kid that gets delivered like candy and pop and just like, I can watch TV , you know? Why can't I just have a normal like American life?

[00:08:51] Andrea: Why do I have to do all these chores and paperwork and translate for my family and, you know, all these like things that immigrant kids have to do for their families. But in hindsight, you know, it makes us unique. It makes us different. It builds character. It has been the source of all of my creative verse, like in writing, in up, in projects that I, I'm involved in.

[00:09:14] Andrea: So it's helped me come to appreciate how different I grew. . So I, I love that. I used to think it was something that happened to me and it's unfair, and now I look at it like it's, it was such a gift. Mm-hmm. ,

[00:09:31] Vinita: do you remember when you started thinking that comedy might be a good way to talk about your life?

[00:09:38] Andrea: I was so drawn to standup and comedy. I loved all of Will Farrell's movies. I thought he was so funny. Conno O'Brien was so funny and I watched Stephen Colbert and like I watched standup. I was just like so into comedy. I just wanted to do it so badly that I didn't dawn on me that. I would just be sharing my life so openly when I'm on stage.

[00:10:03] Andrea: I think like just wanting to be in comedy and doing comedy, overshadowed the fact that I'm actually pretty private of a person and I didn't realize that I was . I would just be like, sh oversharing on such a scale like this. I didn't anticipate like, oh, everyone's gonna know everything about me, which is, yeah, something I'm still getting used.

[00:10:27] Andrea: do

[00:10:27] Vinita: you think about who your audiences are? Like who are you doing this comedy for?

[00:10:33] Andrea: I think I need to think about things a lot more before I do them, but I, I don't until I, it's finished already. I think anyone that comes up to me and my comedy has had an impact on them and they felt strongly enough to tell me in such a.

[00:10:50] Andrea: Sincere and beautiful way. I just, it's for them cuz it's people from all walks of life. Sometimes there'll be people that surprise me. I'm like, oh, I can't believe you related to that. They just look like someone that wouldn't relate to me at all from a completely different background. But that's something that's so beautiful to me is that we're not so different.

[00:11:13] Andrea: All of us.

[00:11:14] Vinita: Faiza. In your research you talk about how Russell Peters in his comedy, makes fun of his own communities, which is mainly South Asian, but also other cultures besides his own, and how you say that he believes that this is a good way for audiences to get acquainted with new cultures.

[00:11:34] Faiza: Yeah, and I think this is where I struggle a little bit with the whole idea of, of comedy as humor when it involves race.

[00:11:42] Faiza: Not because I don't laugh, I do, but then I wonder why I'm laughing. I think the challenge I've always had with Russell Peter's work, and it was part of the reason why I, I wrote this article of is because I can completely relate to all of the South Asian jokes, although even those I sometimes wonder if we're perpetuating stereo St.

[00:12:00] Faiza: But still, I think, you know, many times we'll say if we're laughing at ourselves, then that's okay. But then there'll be times where he'll assume a Chinese accent, for instance, or he'll bring up a stereotype about black people. And that's when I wonder, where have we crossed the line from? From humor and AF affirmation and validation, or.

[00:12:21] Faiza: Now, have we moved into this arena, perhaps criticizing or just affirming these stereotypes that normally we would wanna discredit? And so I think that's a very different experience than what we were talking about earlier, where you are able to take these stereotypes about your community, take these things that may have embarrassed you once and turn them into a goldmine for humor.

[00:12:42] Faiza: Now you're actually perhaps targeting another group or making assumptions about another group. And, and Russell Peters and other comedians have excused this by saying, I grew up with this community, in his case, Brampton. And so he'll say, I know these communities really well, that, you know, it's, it's like they're my own.

[00:12:59] Faiza: But I do wonder at what point it's not okay anymore to say, well, it's all right to laugh at this community because I consider them my. But I, I'm not sure that it's always acceptable to make that assumption that you have that kind of insider status to stereotype or make fun of another community. at the same time.

[00:13:19] Faiza: I, I believe Russell Peters when he says his intentions are benign, but I do have a lot of discomfort in terms of what is actually the source of the laughter. When I, as a person of South Asian descent, am sitting in an audience and Russell Peters or another comedian, I'm picking on Russell Peters, but there's plenty of examples like him will put on an accent from another group and everybody laughs.

[00:13:42] Faiza: What is that saying? Is that different than, Somebody calls out a racist insult to a Chinese, a person who appears to be Chinese or Japanese or, or some different identity from what you are on the street. I'm not sure I can always make that distinction clearly.

[00:13:58] Vinita: I guess we're starting to get to that question like, well, if we laugh at another group, does that make us racist?

[00:14:06] Vinita: Andrea, maybe you can help us. You mostly talk about your own experience, and I'm wondering when or if at all do you feel the need to talk about someone else's experience?

[00:14:17] Andrea: Right. I feel like I've been very meticulous about making sure that I'm only talking about myself and my own experience, and that my experiences don't, it's not a blanket of all Chinese experiences.

[00:14:33] Andrea: I talk about this with other comedians and basically because, you know, I have a lot to mine from my family. I'm able to have a lot of material, uh, about my family and only my family, but not everyone has that and. And even at one point I'll run out too, you know, so at the point of when I run out about things to say about myself, we're gonna have to go outside of ourselves, like as comedians, you know, is social commentary.

[00:15:03] Andrea: All the biggest comedians in the world. They eventually stop talking about themselves and they comment on the news and like, you know, all these big topics that could be controversial cuz it's not about them, it's about other groups of people. It is honestly such a gray area cuz I've definitely seen it be fine and I've definitely seen it be not fine at all.

[00:15:26] Andrea: Comedy is weird because everyone's. Set is different. Like sometimes a clip from a complete amateur talking about something as sensitive as race and completely fumbling it and missing the point and just being completely like racist or tone deaf. That happens a lot for sure. And then we point to it and we say, oh, you know, comedy shouldn't be this.

[00:15:52] Andrea: Like you shouldn't do that, but it's like an amateur handling. But that's where we are now, is that like anyone can upload a clip and then, you know, attention will be brought onto that clip and then everyone will think, oh, that's comedy. But it's like no comedy at a level of a professional. I feel like most of them will be able to handle sensitive topics in a professional way where it's not tone deaf, where it's not gonna be hurting groups of people.

[00:16:22] Andrea: But, you know, professionals mess up too. They're not perfect. Yeah, there will be slipups. It's such a difficult topic for sure. You

[00:16:31] Vinita: mentioned that you have these conversations with your fellow comics, and I guess you, you must have the conversations about how far is too far, like you have your own set of personal guidelines, which I think you said you stick with.

[00:16:43] Vinita: What's in your realm?

[00:16:45] Andrea: Yeah. I mean, for now, because of the way I grew up, I'm very sensitive to how other people feel. I'm very empathetic and I never want to overstep and make anyone feel bad, but that's just me. I feel like most comedians don't have that kind of empathy, and so a lot of communities, like they don't care.

[00:17:06] Andrea: They're like, okay, I'm gonna say what I'm gonna say. It's my jokes. If they don't like it, they can What. I look at comedians like Ali Wong. Yeah. Who has three specials and they're all just basically talking about her own life and her life is like ever changing. Yes. She just got divorced. She had a secret show in LA and I went to it.

[00:17:25] Andrea: She's working on her new hour and it's like all just her talking about her divorce and so, I mean, it's possible to just continue talking about yourself, but you know, she, she definitely like her past work, like has featured commentary on other race races and groups. So I just think it's inevitable cuz we live in a world with each other and it's impossible to just not talk about each other.

[00:17:51] Andrea: I think it's just to keep in mind to do it delicately, especially if your audience is so huge. I just think like there's a responsibility. , try and be delicate.

[00:18:03] Vinita: Faiza, what do you think? Uh, can we talk about accents? Because I think that's one of those tricky lines. A lot of comics use them for impact. I know that you've written about APU and, well, you talked about Russell Peters too.

[00:18:16] Faiza: I think for me, this is where I really struggle a bit with comedians like Russell Peters. So the assumption of the Chinese accent, because having grown up in Vancouver, I have heard that assumed so many times as a way to mock a. , and I think this is part of why humor is such a delicate kind of thing. , many of us can remember that feeling of being laughed at, especially, especially those of us who for some reason fit into a kind of what might be seen as a marginalized identity.

[00:18:42] Faiza: And so this is where being laughed at becomes very, very sensitive. My classes, we talk about the whole notion of backstage and frontstage racism. The fact that there will be a polite sort of appearance that many people will put on. But then behind the scene, once people are with someone, they consider to be like-minded.

[00:19:00] Faiza: There will be this sort of laughing, there will be these jokes that perhaps wouldn't necessarily be acceptable and polite company. And so for me, the assumption of the accent is, is a form of backstage racism that still goes on. I mean, look at Donald Trump or, or you know, some of these very notorious public figures who have no trouble at.

[00:19:20] Faiza: Laughing at people and making fun of their characteristics. And for some reason a large segment of American society has deemed this acceptable and, and some people in Canadian society too. I think for any of us who have grown up with a parent or a grandparent who has struggled to adapt to Canadian society, I think that this assumption of accents isn't always funny.

[00:19:41] Faiza: So I wonder a little bit if we are presenting a view of ourselves to others that is perhaps not entirely representative. So the accent for me is definitely, uh, problematic. At the same time, I would also say when we talk about professional comedians who have sometimes gone too far, perhaps I think of somebody like Chris Rock and if I look at his early work, I think there are some things that he did really seamlessly that are very impressive.

[00:20:07] Faiza: And so he would really pick up political subjects and really satirize those. And so from bringing on the pain, there's a segment that he, that he did. He complains about white Americans talking about Colon Powell. And his complaint is that, again, it's that sort of, you know, front stage kind of racism where they'll say things like, Colin Powell, I really like him.

[00:20:28] Faiza: He speaks so well and then he goes on to the rest of his segment to say in, you know, in very profane terms, what does that mean? What do you expect him to sound like? And then he puts on a bit of a southern a, like an Amos and anti kind of accent to demonstrate what he thinks is probably the stereotype that's revolving in their head.

[00:20:44] Faiza: Speaks so well what? Were you lifting to come outta his mouth? What the Did you expect me to sound like I'm gonna drop me a bomb today,

[00:20:55] Faiza: I'll be dead. And so in a case like that, I think that actually is a really interesting example of taking the stereotype, using it in your work and, and making a really brilliant point. . I think there are other aspects of Chris Rock's work that are much more problematic, but that's one where I think the accent is used to good effect to really practice a kind of subversion, a kind of political subversion.

[00:21:20] Faiza: And this is something that you can do with comedy. That I think you can't do quite as effectively as, let's say, a serious newscaster or somebody like me who can write academic papers and deliver lectures to my class. But let's be honest, are most people more likely to remember that serious lecture, or are they more likely to remember that in five minutes of satire that Chris Rock took somebody down completely on this stage, they're more likely to remember the entertainment factor.

[00:21:46] Vinita: Mm mm Basically we're saying if we laugh with a comedian, it means that we're along for the ride with whatever joke they're

[00:21:55] Andrea: delivering. Yeah. I feel like it depends on the joke, but a lot of times I feel like when you're laughing, you're entering someone else's worldview and you're entering. Believe is funny and interesting and so that's kind of a win, right?

[00:22:13] Andrea: For the thing that they're talking about. It's acceptance in a way. Hmm.

[00:22:19] Vinita: I, I feel like we've come so far. I mean, you know, Faiza, you've been talking about Russell Peters. I feel like now we're in a really different era where, you know, comedy has in, in many ways brought so many serious issues right to the fore.

[00:22:35] Vinita: As you say, you wrote a piece in the conversation where you talk about Mindy Kaling's work and her recent sitcom. Never have I Ever, and you say that it gives you, excitement about, you know, the idea about representation and race and comedy. Can you tell us a little bit

[00:22:55] Faiza: about that? I love the fact that Mindy Kaling has put together this show.

[00:23:00] Faiza: I don't know how other audience members feel, but I feel as though it's a relatable show. Even if you come from a different kind of cultural background from somebody like Mindy Kaling, um, or from the, the characters who are of South Asian descent. This is Pandit Raja Krishnan, but everyone calls him Panda.

[00:23:15] Faiza: It Robs, he's the community spiritual leader and also really knows how to work a room. No, everybody repeat after.

[00:23:29] Faiza: Just kidding. , we'll do something easier. . I like panda rocks. So it's really a coming of age story. It's a story about a young woman coming to terms with some very sad things that have happened in her life, coming to terms with intergenerational conflict. Intercultural conflict, but then also dealing with the same kind of stories I think that we saw in shows like my so-called.

[00:23:50] Faiza: Where you have this young, awkward, teen wise beyond her years, in some ways, really naive in others, wanting to have a boyfriend, wanting to fit in, trying to sort out all of the tangled emotions that come with being a teenager. And I think it's amazing that we can have this story told from the perspective of this young woman of South Asian descent, but in some ways it doesn't necessarily matter that she's of South Asian descent.

[00:24:14] Faiza: I think it really adds to the voices that are out there, and I think it's great that we can have these stories now. And they don't always have to star somebody who looks like Claire Danes or you know, some other kind of teen actor who typically was appearing in, in these sort of shows in the nineties and early two thousands.

[00:24:30] Faiza: But I think it just adds to the richness now of what we can see in terms of representation. And I think it's really nice too, behind the scenes to see all of these actors supporting one another and building community too. You know, people like Lilly Singh, the star of, never have I Ever the Star of Ms.

[00:24:45] Faiza: Marvel. All of them kind of coming together and in some ways building a little bit of a critical mass to say that, you know, we're here and we support one another and we're not going anywhere. We're all going to support each other's projects and fight for represe. Although in some ways I think being a comedian really subjects you to a lot of criticism because of the nature of the work.

[00:25:07] Faiza: I think it's really amazing to see how many comedians. Who talk about race, talk about serious political issues, have really mobilized around that. So yes, some of the humor makes them money and makes them famous, but I think it's really interesting too that they are grappling with issues that perhaps would otherwise be taboo in their communities if you don't have those voices out there representing those communities.

[00:25:29] Faiza: Taking these taboo issues and turning them into sources of humor and dialogue, then you're going to continue to have that kind of repression that Andrea jokingly talked about, but we all know is real in a number of communities for sure.

[00:25:44] Vinita: guys, I have to admit that I tried to keep that show away from my kid.

[00:25:47] Vinita: Someone said, you can't let your kid watch that. Never have I ever. It's like, you know, all about sex or whatever it was. Then I turned on Netflix and I see all of the episodes. I've been watched . I'm like, okay, well we're not gonna keep this away from them. They're gonna watch it. And I asked my 10 year old when you wanna do for your birthday?

[00:26:02] Vinita: And they said, watch Saturday Night Live. So, you know, there's things that makes me really actually happy because I was playing Andrea, I was playing your album. House with my partner, they're listening and then my kids are listening at the same time and I'm like pressing pause at certain , . But you know it.

[00:26:21] Vinita: Aside from the things that I'm like worried as a mom, I'm actually really happy that they have these, you know, you and other role models that they can enjoy and feel represented and feel excited by. What makes you Andrea excited when it comes to the future of comedy?

[00:26:40] Andrea: Yeah, I think like, yeah, it adds to what you, you you're both talking about is like how we're seeing different perspectives.

[00:26:48] Andrea: I love, never have I ever can, can completely see this, you know, come out 10 years ago with like a all fully white cast like, and you know, be that and then we're okay with that. But then I'm so glad that it's not, and. South Asian in a way that's so relatable all at the same time, where it's just like a coming of age story, but you see so deeply into South Asian culture as well.

[00:27:14] Andrea: So it's just proof that, yeah, it doesn't have to be that one perspective. It doesn't have to be done in a way that like, It is only relatable to one group. We see that with the audience. It's and popularity. It's such a huge hit and I'm sure it's not only being carried by the South Asian community . And so that's super exciting to me that that's happening and we're exploring different perspectives.

[00:27:40] Andrea: I think. I'm curious to know Faiza, who's your like favorite of all

[00:27:44] Faiza: time? I don't know if I have a favorite of all time, but I have these sort of moments that that I kind of come across in my research that I really love. Some of it is just because of my political leanings and where we are in the world right now, but so recently I came across the work of Roy Wood Jr.

[00:27:59] Faiza: And I loved the way he was talking about his obligations as a comedian saying that he doesn't have the choice not to be political, he has to use it in the service of social change, which I thought was amazing. Donald Trump has the audacity to take. For lowering the black unemployment rate, but this is the same man who fired Arm Omarosa.

[00:28:19] Faiza: That was half of his black staff . Now, the theorist Michael Billig has talked about the fact that humor is not that far from hatred. And in the work of people like Roy Wood Jr. I don't really see that kind of approaching that line of hatred. I love a lot of those kinds of approaches. I love the way that so many comedians now I think are really taking up political issues and social issues in a way that I think is maybe a little bit more engaging and effective than what the rest of us can do.

[00:28:48] Faiza: And so I really applaud that because I think that that might be the way that we get through to

[00:28:54] Andrea: other people. I feel like that social commentary from comedians, a lot of people don't have enough time or don't know how to feel about like what's happening in the world. I feel like they look to them as. a kind of guide.

[00:29:07] Andrea: I spent

[00:29:08] Vinita: a lot of my time, especially during the lockdown era, I was listening to a lot of comedians cuz that that really did, as you say, looking to comedians to help make sense of, but also deal with the intensity of what's actually going on and the overwhelm of news and, and I'm a journalist and I turn to comedians.

[00:29:28] Faiza: Comedy's a risky space, but I think that there's such a bravery to what some comedians will say. Journalists are confined in some ways, right? And so I think that there's a kind of bravery to what comedians can say that is really compelling, and I think really inspiring in some ways when it's done right.

[00:29:45] Vinita: Thank you both so much for speaking with me today.

[00:29:48] Faiza: Thank you for having us.

[00:29:49] Andrea: Yeah, thank you so much for having us. This was great.

[00:29:57] Vinita: That's it for this episode of Don't Call Me Resilient, and in fact, that's it for this season. Thank you to Faiza Hirji and Andrea Jin for their time and for sharing some of their thoughts on race and comedy. We have a lot more on this, where you'll find show notes with links to additional stories and research, and you can find me on Twitter.

[00:30:23] Vinita: I'm at writevinita, that's W R I T E V I N I T A, and our producers are at convers. Ca, this episode has been so much fun to put together, and so we'd love to hear what you think about it and the pod in general. Remember to use the hashtag, don't Call Me Resilient. Finally, if you like what you heard today, please help spread the word about the pod.

[00:30:48] Vinita: Tell a friend about us. Retweet an episode, or leave us a review on whatever podcast app you're using and keep an eye out on this feed in the new. Because we have some exciting stuff in the works, don't call me resilient as a production of the Conversation Canada. This podcast was produced with a grant for journalism Innovation from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

[00:31:13] Vinita: The series is produced and hosted by me Vinita Srivastava. The lead producers on this episode are Ollie Nicholas and Rithika Shenoy. Dannielle Piper is also a producer. Rehmatullah Sheikh is our audio editor. Our consulting producer is Jennifer Moroz. Ateqah Khaki , handles our marketing and visual innovation. And Scott White is the c e o of the Conversation Canada.

[00:31:39] Vinita: And if you're wondering who performed and wrote the music we'll use on the pod, that's the amazing Zaki Ibrahim . The track is called something in the water.