Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
April 25, 2015

White Reservation: The Justification of Breath and Those Who Take It Away

My day ended with news of a Michael Brown memorial tree being chopped down in less than a day of it being planted. Amidst the maelstrom and versions of justice, it's hard to breathe when even the process of photosynthesis is being interrupted.

Isaiah Washington: Hotel Tried to Kick Me Out 'For Being An Uppity Negro'

Isaiah Washington
Star Max/IPx

Ice Cube Reveals Details About Final 'Friday' Sequel

Ice Cube
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Tina Knowles' Wedding Photo Is Perfection (And Blue Ivy Is A Dancing Queen)

Beyonce
XPOSURE

Police Union Chief Defends Calling Baltimore Protesters A 'Lynch Mob'

Freddie Gray
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

Video Shows Deputy Shoot Unarmed Black Man 4 Times In 2013 Incident

Unarmedshot
WPTV

How the War on Drugs Contributes to the '1.5 Million Missing Black Men'

Michael Brown's Family To File Civil Suit Against Ferguson For Wrongful Death

Michael Brown Family Holds Picture
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cops Who Killed Mentally Ill Man Carrying Screwdriver Cleared

Screwdriver
Sky News

2 Arrested As Protestors And Police Clash In Baltimore

Cops
AP

Senate Makes History By Confirming Loretta Lynch As U.S. Attorney General

Loretta Lynch
SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

Pennsylvania Lawmaker Wants To Make It Illegal To Taunt A Police Officer

Police Protesters New York City
Andrew Burton via Getty Images

Rights Group To Probe Freddie Gray's Death, Cites No Confidence In Police

Freddie Gray
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Toni Morrison On The Conversation We Need To Be Having About Race

Toni Morrison
FRANCK FIFE via Getty Images

New Video Shows NYC Teen's 3 Years Of Hell In Rikers Island Jail

Kalief Browder
The New Yorker

Michael Eric Dyson Deems His Public Critique Of Cornel West 'Vital And Necessary'

Michael Eric Dyson
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Chris Rock: ‘Why Don't Black People Like Baseball Anymore?'

Chris Rock
You Tube

'Justice For Freddie': Hundreds Protest Death Of Man After Arrest By Police

Freddie Gray
Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Texas Cop Knocks Allegedly Drunk Woman Out In Front Of Her Daughter

Police Force
KVUE

CNN's Don Lemon To Bill Bratton: 'Do You Think That People Of Color Are Targeted By Police?'

Don Lemon
CNN

BET To Enter Sports Arena With New Partnership

Andre Ward
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Why So Many People Don't Intervene When It Comes To Sexual Assault

Woman Sad People
shutterstock

New Allegations Surface Against Reserve Deputy Who Fatally Shot Black Man

Robert Bates Tulsa
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cops Resign After Their Town Elects First Black Female Mayor

Parma Mo
KFVS

Police Chief Resigns After Officer Charged In Traffic Stop Beating

William Melendez
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Report: Brittney Griner Arrested On Assault Charges

Mugshot
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Global Black Voices
 

Anti-Immigrant Violence Spreads In South Africa

Johannesburg
MUJAHID SAFODIEN via Getty Images

Little Girl Can't Believe Michelle Obama Is 51

Flotus
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Innocent Teen Shot In Face By Oakland Police Reaches Settlement

Raynor
KPIX

How Raising The Minimum Wage To $15 Changed These Workers' Lives

Masterpark
Working Washington

Authorities Accused Of 'Character Assassination' In Case Of Volunteer Deputy

Robert Bates
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Michael Brown Memorial Tree Cut Down Just One Day After Being Planted

Michael Brown
Facebook/Justice for Michael Brown

LisaRaye McCoy: Let A Black Girl Do A Sex Tape And Her Career Is Ruined

Lisaraye Mccoy
Moses Robinson via Getty Images

102-Year-Old Harlem Renaissance Dancer Sees Herself On Film For The First Time

Barker
YouTube

Michael Eric Dyson Defends Publishing Cornel West Critique In 'Problematic' TNR

Michael Eric Dyson
HuffPost Live

DOJ Investigates Death Of Man Who Suffered Spinal Injury In Police Custody

Freddie Gray
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tiny St. Louis County Town Used Police Force As 'Bullies,' Former Mayor Claims

Pine Lawn
Michael B. Thomas via Getty Images

FOLLOW HUFFPOST

    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    3. View all RSS feeds

Russell Wilson Dances With His Grandma, The Perfect Date For White House Correspondents' Dinner

Russell
Facebook

Rapper Scarface Opens Up About His Battle With Depression

Brad Scarface Jordan
HuffPost Live

The Shaggy Rap Battle To End All Shaggy Rap Battles

Shaggy
NBC

9 Ways To Wear A Silk Scarf Like A Boss, As Told Through GIFs

Silk Scarf
Tiara Chiaramonte

Mike Tyson Brings His Fear Of Flatulence To 'Lip Sync Battle'

Tyson
Spike TV

Stephen Curry Just Hit The Most Epic Shot Of His Career

Vine
Vine

LeBron James Commends Evan Turner For Even Trying To Dunk On Him

Vine
Vine

30 Natural Hair Haircuts For Any Length And Texture

Natural Hair Haircuts
tom.boy/jfashiongirl87donedo

NBA Player Wrote and Recorded A Playoffs Rap Song

Iman Shumpert
ASSOCIATED PRESS

This Is What A Truly Diverse Plus-Size Campaign Looks Like

Empower All Bodies
Jes Baker

College Athletes Are Burned Out And In Need Of Sleep: Internal Survey

Pac 12
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Beyoncé And Jay Z's Rumored Joint Album Reportedly To Premiere On Tidal

Beyonce Jay Z
Kevin Mazur/VF15 via Getty Images

Holy Crap, Did Rajon Rondo's Mavs Career End Badly Or What?

Rajon Rondo
ASSOCIATED PRESS

24 Struggles Of Online Dating That Are All Too Real

Online Dating
Getty/HuffPost

Five Natural Hairstyle Ideas For Busy Moms

Pompadour Natural Hair
Tribe Called Curl

Dalai Lama, Archbishop Tutu Join Forces For Book On Joy

Dalai Lama Tutu
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Watch 102-Year-Old Former Star See Footage Of Her Young Self Dancing For The First Time

Alice Barker
Tenfresh

Jameis Winston Now Says He Got Those Crab Legs For Free From Store Worker

Jameis Winston
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Waka Flocka Flame: Jay Z Isn't On My Album Because I 'Don't Deserve' It

Waka Flocka Flame
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Watch Kanye West Perform At The Time 100 Gala

470593436
Kevin Mazur via Getty Images

This Beanie Is A Stylish Solution To A Common Hair Care Problem

Slaps Cap
SLAPS

The NBA Is Going To Play Its First Game In Africa This Summer

Nbaafrica
twitter

Bobbi Kristina Brown Is Off Life Support, According To Family

Bobbi Kristina
Shareif Ziyadat via Getty Images

Director Nelson George Talks Working With Misty Copeland On 'A Ballerinas Tale'

Nelson George
Star Max/IPx

9 Times P!nk Proved That Every Woman Should Be Able To Define Herself

Sexy
AP

Little Girl Dances To Taylor Swift With Her Pet Pig And All Is Right With The World

Libby And Pearl
YouTube

Rihanna Doesn't 'Give A D-ck' About Privacy Anymore

V Magazine
V Magazine

These Are The States With The Most Divorced Residents

Us Map
Stephen Marks via Getty Images

Tweet

strong>Jozen Cummings: Do you get a lot of people who come up to you and say, "Hey, you're the black guy on 'The Daily Show'"?
Wyatt Cenac: It's always a little weird for me, because when they hired me they said, "Oh, we're not hiring you to play that role. We just want you to be a correspondent, so you can do stories that don't necessarily have anything to do with race." So when people say I'm the black correspondent, there's a part of me that's like, 'Nah, I'm just a regular correspondent. Open your minds, people! This is Dr. King's dream! He talked about 'The Daily Show' -- how one day there would be black correspondents and Muslim correspondents and white correspondents, all living together.'

JC: Is there any obligation to be that "black voice" -- as with your 2009 'Daily Show' bit about rappers who have been affected by the recession with real-life rapper Slim Thug (see below)? What's the voice you try to have among the other correspondents?
WC: That is part of my voice -- that's the stuff I find interesting. I don't know if I feel any pressure to pitch that [sort of material] as much as it just reflects my sense of humor. The way I see things is through that prism. I think the mistake a lot of people make is that they put it through a race prism, when it's not about that at all. I grew up as a kid in Dallas, Texas, where my friends listened to a lot of hip-hop, and I listened to a lot of hip-hop. That's as much my generation as it is a racial thing.

The Daily Show - Slim Thug Feels the Recession
Tags: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook



JC: In your stand-up and in the things you write, are you conscious of when your work is being put through that race prism or do you try to present work that transcends race?
WC: It definitely crosses my mind, because my race is a part of who I am. In one sense, it's very easy to get mired in that. At the same time, the reality is if you look at me, you see a black person, so in that way race will always be there no matter what. It's like, "Oh it's the black correspondent." Well, no, I'm just a correspondent, but regardless of how I present it, people will always attach a racial element to it. But this is my story: A kid who's black, who grew up in Texas, who is of West Indian descent. There are very specific aspects of my experience that are not the "black experience" and to me, that's what transcendent is.

JC: Anything behind the straight-to-the-point title of your stand-up special, "Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person"?
WC: Yeah, I'm not great at titles -- they tend to be the most basic thing I can think of. Also, in stand-up it's really easy to categorize people. I remember going to clubs in L.A. where there might be a woman comedian doing the show, and a lot of times the host would introduce her like this: "Who's ready for a lady?" And, you know, to put that qualifier there, there's something very strange about that. Also, at that time, if you wanted diversity at the club level, it was Monday nights at the Improv -- that was black night. At the Laugh Factory it was 'Chocolate Sunday' and 'Refried Fridays' and 'Stir Fried Thursdays.' So I think [my decision surrounding the title] might have played into that a little bit.

JC: So you understand race is always going to be a part of the way people describe you, but you hate when people use it to describe you?
WC: I'm just somebody doing comedy like the next person. If you think it's funny, great. That was the point. But putting a qualifier on it -- that this is a black person doing comedy or this is a lady doing comedy, that always used to skiv me out. For a while, when I would do a club, a lot of times I would have the host intro me with "Who's ready for a lady?" just to call out how stupid it was.

JC: But in the 1990's black comedians kind of embraced that whole black comedian/comedy thing. There was BET's 'Comic View' and 'Def Comedy Jam.' Do you see having those stages as an advantage?
WC: I think it's great that those platforms were there, but there's an aspect that seems like Hollywood either doesn't look at a show like 'Comic View' or if they just think, "They're over there, they're taken care of." I don't know what that mindset is, but it seems [they think] they don't need to worry about booking black comedians on 'The Tonight Show' or whatever bigger shows there might be, because [we're] taken care of. That's a question worth asking Hollywood at large.

JC: How did you avoid being put in that 'black comedy' category? You're more associated with 'The Daily Show' and your stand-up televised debut is on Comedy Central, not BET.
WC: Well, there's also the alternative [comedy] world, and I very quickly got put into that world. There aren't a lot of minorities who get put in that world. Me, Craig Robinson, W. Kamau Bell -- there are comedians who got placed on that track, and it's a weird thing, because I remember in L.A. there were black shows that were like The Big Black show and it was always a struggle for me to get into that world, because I'd already been put on this other track. And on this other track I'm at X level, but then if I wanted to do the 'Mo Betta' Mondays" at the Improv, it didn't matter what level I was at in the alternative world. I had to start from ground zero and earn their trust and pay dues in that world.

JC: What has being on 'The Daily Show' done for you personally and professionally?
WC: Well, the first thing it did was allow me to pay my rent [laughs]. I wasn't really doing that before I got the gig. Right before I got the job, I had to move out of my apartment because I couldn't pay for it and my car got repossessed. But beyond that, it's definitely helped me with opportunities to do stand-up around the country.

JC: What about opportunities from your role in 'Medicine For Melancholy,' in which you played the male lead in a story about two people who hang out the day after a one night stand?
WC: There are people who know me solely from that movie who have no idea I work for 'The Daily Show,' and there are people who know me from 'The Daily Show' who have no idea about that movie. It's been very interesting trying to bridge those worlds a little bit more.

JC: Is having both projects on your resume an advantage?
WC: Right now, I use it to my advantage to meet ladies [laughs].


JC: That's what most men would do.

WC: No, sadly it doesn't help me. It helps producers and writers on 'The Daily Show' -- they're able to get dates, but being on-air talent on 'The Daily Show' seems to have the opposite effect.

JC: What's your relationship like with Jon Stewart, host of 'The Daily Show'?
WC: Pretty professional. Our job is one where we're constantly on the move, working on the next thing and outside of work he's a father of two and he's hanging out with his kids. I've avoided hanging out with my children [Ed note: Cenac doesn't have children.] I don't acknowledge their existence [laughs]. Outside of work, we don't hang out that often because if we did he'd say, "Shouldn't you be more responsible with your kids?" And I'd be like, 'Shut up, old man! You don't know me!'

JC: Has there ever been a bit you had trouble selling the 'Daily Show' team?
WC: The Slim Thug thing actually, that was something I had to push. It was a world where I felt there were a lot of jokes, but I remember we pitched it a couple of times and there were three different producers that had been on it at some point. I think around the third time, there was more to the story but it was one of those things initially they thought, 'Do people really want to see something about rappers dealing with the recession?' But eventually, it got through.

JC: Tomorrow night, when your special airs and you're on television as a stand-up comedian for the first time ever, where are you watching the show? Party at Wyatt's?
WC: I think I'm going to crawl under my bed. I've watched it so many times because I've been editing of it and honestly, what I think I'm going to wind up doing is going to see Donald Glover, who is a very funny comedian, he's on the show 'Community,' and he's taping his special tomorrow night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I don't know if I could do a party. If I did a party, I'd just be sitting there watching people watching me and saying, "You didn't laugh as loud as I thought you should!"
Tagged as: BET, Comedy Central, Comic View, Craig Robinson, Def Comedy Jam, Donald Glover, Jon Stewart, Medicine For Melancholy, Slim Thug, The Daily Show, Wyatt Cenac
Email This

Comments: (8)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 1

Add a Comment

Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed but they are required to confirm your comments. When you enter your name and email address, you'll be sent a link to confirm your comment, and a password. To leave another comment, just use that password."

More on Black Voices

Follow Us

Most Commented Articles

Daily Drama

The Best Clips From TV's Hottest Shows


More Daily Drama >>

Bossip

feed

The Urban Daily

feed
Around the Web