Download e-book for kindle: Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery by Glenda Carpio

By Glenda Carpio

Reassessing the meanings of ''black humor'' and ''dark satire,'' Laughing healthy to Kill illustrates how black comedians, writers, and artists have deftly deployed numerous modes of comedic ''conjuring''--the absurd, the ugly, and the strategic expression of racial stereotypes--to redress not just the previous injustices of slavery and racism in the USA but in addition their legacy within the current. targeting representations of slavery within the post-civil rights period, Carpio explores stereotypes in Richard Pryor's groundbreaking stand-up act and the outrageous comedy of Chappelle's Show to illustrate how deeply indebted they're to the sly social feedback embedded within the profoundly ironic nineteenth-century fiction of William Wells Brown and Charles W. Chesnutt. equally, she unearths how the iconoclastic literary works of Ishmael Reed and Suzan-Lori Parks use satire, hyperbole, and burlesque humor to symbolize a violent historical past and to tackle problems with racial injustice. With an abundance of illustrations, Carpio additionally extends her dialogue of radical black comedy to the visible arts as she finds how using subversive appropriation via Kara Walker and Robert Colescott cleverly lampoons the iconography of slavery. finally, Laughing healthy to Kill deals a different examine the daring, advanced, and simply undeniable humorous ways in which African American artists have used laughter to critique slavery's darkish legacy.

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Additional resources for Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery

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But, as Chappelle himself suspects, it could signal the co-optation of his power to conjure stereotypes. In chapter 3, I explore how Ishmael Reed conjures stereotypes through a comic book–like graphicness that exaggerates the caricature to the point of the grotesque. Like Robert Colescott and Kara Walker, whose works I examine in chapter 4, Reed makes vivid the infinitely complex layers of associations embedded in stereotypes and gives access to the emotions, often conflicting and violent, that they provoke.

White man owe me eleben and pay me seben / D’y kingdom come! D’y will be done! ” “Reign, Master Jesus, Reign,” would become “Oh rain! Oh rain! Oh rain, ‘good’ Mosser! / Rain, Mosser! Rain hard! ”11 These and many other examples illustrate that humor about slavery flourished early in African American oral culture. The development of that humor among African American writers takes a different trajectory. Racist assumptions regarding the “innate” relationship between gaiety and blackness not only supported arguments for slavery but also made it necessary for African American writers to maneuver carefully if and when they used humor until well into the twentieth century.

An expert mimic, Brown used only his body and voice to conjure the racial stereotypes and distorted depictions of slavery that the minstrel stage produced. For instance, in his performances of his play The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom (1858/2001), Brown, playing every role in the play, parodied the stereotypes of race and gender produced by slavery—the wicked overseer, the tragic mulatta, the lascivious slave master, the heroic slave, the buffoonish “coon”—in a hyperbolic mode that sabotaged their power.

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