Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Comedy cheat #2: "They know they're next."

As I've said, for this NaBloPoMo, I've set aside a few moments of comedy that have stuck with me.  They correspond roughly to one per decade - last week represented the sixties; this week's is from the seventies, although I can't remember when I saw it for the first time.  It has a dark side to it and has haunted me for years.

Freddy Prinze, like many comedians,  had his own dark side.  He was the star of a sit-com called Chico and the Man.  Although I don't recall ever sitting through an episode, the familiar catch-phrase was "It's not my job!".  (Rather like "How you doin'?" from Friends.  I bet you can think up a dozen more.)  At the time of this particular stand-up routine, he was about twenty years old.  He was dead three years later, of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

This routine, which is funny without relying on the shock-value of profanity, seems light-hearted, but there is one rather sinister sentence keeps returning to me:  Chinese don't want Puerto Ricans to make it 'cause they know they're next.

I remembered Freddie Prinze when I first heard the story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.  It's said that as the buildings burned and flaming resistance fighters leapt from the windows, Polish citizens were heard to hoot and call:  "There goes another one!"  Yet, in the Nazi hierarchy of hatred, Poles were only one rung up from the Jews. It's true that the Nazis were cynically using the long and distinguished history of anti-Semitism in Poland to their own ends, but I think what it really boiled down to was that the Poles knew they were next.

I began to wonder if it's the nature of oppression itself that turns oppressed people against each other, rather than uniting them against the oppressor.  I think about this every time I see women tearing into each other over issues that should be matters of personal choice.  Is it because we're afraid we're next?

Time to lighten up.  Here's the original monologue with that little bit of shadow which still makes me laugh, but a tad uneasily:

1 comment:

JoeinVegas said...

I'd comment on that one but it's not my job.