February 14, 2012

Charles Murray interviews black guy from Onion

Here's Charles Murray taking Onion digital editor Baratunde Thurston's "How to Be Black" quiz and having Thurston take Murray's "How Thick Is Your Bubble?" quiz.

Thurston, by the way, is a graduate of Sidwell Friends and Harvard.

Here's Murray's complex way of scoring his quiz. (I think Murray's first question is his worst: asking you to estimate what percentage of your adult neighbors had college degrees when you were a kid is too hard. Maybe Tom Wolfe or Edith Wharton kept track of that when they were ten, but I didn't. But the quiz gets better.)

You can see what score I got in my American Conservative review of his book:
To illustrate the degree of social insulation that the people who read serious nonfiction books like Coming Apart have engineered for themselves, Murray has crafted an amusing survey on “How Thick Is Your Bubble?” Questions include “During the last month, have you voluntarily hung out with people who were smoking cigarettes?” “Since leaving school, have you ever worn a uniform,” and “During the last year, have you ever purchased domestic mass-market beer to stock your own fridge?” 
That last one stumped me since I buy Anheuser-Busch Natural Light, a cheap sub-mass-market product aimed at college kids—on campus, Natty Lights are known as “frat water”—and solitary imbibers who like their modest amount of alcohol without all that tiresome beer flavor. I emailed the author to learn how I should score my answer, but after a lengthy exchange, we concluded that anybody whose first reaction is to contact Charles Murray to discuss one’s taste (or lack thereof) in beer was kind of missing the point of his survey.

Read my whole thing there.

By the way, have you noticed how The Onion is seldom as funny about race as they are about other topics? It's almost as if they were scared. In contrast, here are some videos from the new Comedy Central sketch comedy show Key & Peele, such as Key in Black Hawk Up, about how black people are not all that stoic about their fear of heights. Or Peele in Yo Mama Has Health Problems.

I saw Keegan-Michael Key at the Groundlings in West Hollywood in December in "The Black Version" where they take movies like Die Hard and improvise what a black version would look like. Key is extraordinary, although his range can detract from the basic appeal of "The Black Version" concept: for example, he decided to make Alan Rickman's terrorist character into an evil French Canadian and riffed on French Canadianness at length with great inventiveness, although the audience would have preferred him to riff on African Americanness. (Both Key and Peele are middle class mulattos with white moms.)

By the way, mamas don't let your babies grow up to be comedians. "The Black Version" is something of a hit in live improv in L.A., which means that about 95 people were in the audience for the Groundlings show with five fine veteran sketch comedians (two of them familiar from long runs on MadTV, a director, three musicians, plus a lighting/sound guy. We paid $14 per ticket from Groupon (no drink minimum). You do the math. 

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

I figured you'd like "The Black Version," which is indeed pretty funny and fearless. The last time I went, Wayne Brady was a guest performer and they did the black version of "Sixteen Candles," complete with a Lion King-style Kenyan exchange student in the place of Long Duk Dong.

As for the Onion and race, there's always this headline: http://www.theonion.com/articles/africanamerican-neighborhood-terrorized-by-ask-mur,24821/

Steve Sailer said...

So, how much Wayne Brady get paid for his guest starring night at the Groundlings? $300?

By the way, if you are young and broke, it can be fun to try to get in free to a Groundlings show. Just show up early and put your name on the waiting list, then sit on the sidewalk on Melrose. The performers like a full house, so with about a minute before curtain, the doorman lets in some of the waiting list for free to fill the empty seats of ticketholders who didn't show up.

FredR said...

I thought this was pretty funny: http://www.theonion.com/articles/black-guy-asks-nation-for-change,2409/

Matko said...

According to ratebeer.com, Natural Light is the third worst beer in the world:

www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/TheWorstBeers.asp

Steve Sailer said...

Yeah, but the people who are doing the rating are biased because they like how beer is supposed to taste.

Anonymous said...

Once whites are minorities The Onion will post a headline saying something like "Whites a Minority: Racial Harmony Achieved" as in, everyone knows that the idea that once races exist in equal numbers we will have harmony is a load of crap, but they can't come out and say it until it happens. Instead of meaning nothing when there are equal numbers of races, race will mean EVERYTHING and every public and private decision will be evaluated on who wins and who loses, creating a neverending loop of anger by the perceived loser of each decision.

TH said...

This is the funniest Onion article on race ever.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you drink cider?

Jokah Macpherson said...

They need to build bigger comedy clubs.

Jokah Macpherson said...

The whitest thing Murray does in his responses is his verbal gymnastics to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition in the "How white are you?" question.

Anonymous said...

http://www.theonion.com/articles/educated-bigot-that-much-more-terrifying,20630/

e-Gibbon said...

The racial bits in The Onion are there, but not at all piquant, would not be out of place on SNL or any CBS sitcom ("Boycott of LL Bean continues"). It's weird to hear that stuff regurgitated by preppie tweens who would presumably lack the life experience to comprehend the humor. When I was reading Baratunde's answers I thought something smelled (he didn't know anyone with a C average despite that person's efforts? really?) When he got to the last question I accepted it was completely phony--Branson, Mo. is a beat-up trope for "redneck trash" going back to at least The Simpsons 15-20 years ago. His answers were just more shtick and self-promotion.

Harry Baldwin said...

On a recent Fresh Air show, I heard an interview with Baratunde Thurston, identified as a stand-up comedian, director of digital for "The Onion," and co-founder of the blog Jack and Jill Politics ( black-oriented political site).

He sounded good-natured but was distinctly unfunny. Perhaps he's The Onion's hall-monitor on racial humor.

not a hacker said...

I have a question for Thurston: If you can't beat me in a game of one on one basketball (I'm older than he is), are you really black?

Jacob Roberson said...

GAG. Our host's taste in beer is farging terrible. I may have to stop reading here.

...Then again he's joking with it, acknowledging his disease. I guess I can stick around. Someone get Guinness into him without delay though.

(Back OT: Seen a little Key & Peele, good demonstration of why the minority joking about race goes better than the majority.

And further to "By the way, mamas don't let your babies grow up to be comedians," it's a hobby everybody should have. Heck I have no creativity and I wish otherwise. But why does anyone try to make art a profession?)

Anonymous said...

The Onion is definitely not comfortable joking about race and has gone downhill the last 5 years. This however, is the funniest thing I've ever read on the Internet. I remember reading at work and almost having to leave early bc I was laughing so hard.

http://members.fortunecity.com/mtracey/christy.htm


Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

Charles Murray was on to something - Google
Justina Morley for a more detailed view of the depravity fo the Fishtown whites

unimpressed said...

BTW, on both iSteve and Vdare, I've noticed a more simplified vocabulary and sentence structure. Five years ago the brain power demonstrated in the comments alone was quite intimidating. It appeared that professors and journalists with serious expertise in their respective fields converged on this blog nightly. These days, not so much.

I believe most of us over a certain age were taught to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition or splitting an infinitive. We were also admonished to show rather than tell in order to get a point across in our writing. Sailer always excelled at the latter. You doofuses, however, constantly make asses of yourselves implying you're part of the white upper class while using campy lingo and the lousy diction common to us all these days. You're as much a part of the decline as the struggling working class whites. Humility in facing this reality would serve you better.

Anonymous said...

Baratunde Thurston is a very funny guy. He had me laughing all the way through the video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX5ueEKsSWc

When it comes to racial humor this guy is the greatest.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you drink cider?

The cheapest cider in America is way more expensive than Natty Light.

Anonymous said...

I saw my favorite Onion headline during the last election.

"Black Man Asks Nation for Change".

OPINIATED said...

french-canadians are awesome, GSP 4 LIFE.

Truth said...

"Five years ago the brain power demonstrated in the comments alone was quite intimidating."

I must have come along just after.

Nanonymous said...

Anheuser-Busch Natural Light ... modest amount of alcohol without all that tiresome beer flavor

What a perversion. You must really hate beer.

Nanonymous said...

Baratunde Thurston is a very funny guy. He had me laughing all the way through the video below.

Link

OMG! The Onion hires dolts like this now?

squeaky wheel said...

I have not read Baratunde's book but there is stratification within the U.S. black community that was less evident 30 years ago, when there just weren't many black pupils at Sidwell Friends or Fieldston Ethical Culture, etc. A longstanding contingent of blacks with conflicted psyches has eschewed Acting White but at the same time doesn't want to stay in the Booker T. Washington-esque black bloc either. Unfortunately I think those feeling this dilemma most acutely are not-so-covertly egged on by elite whites (Sailer's written about this, "liberal guilt" and such, and I can't disagree). What is unremarked upon is how many blacks fail to nurse the same hang-ups. By definition they won't take part in any "national conversation about race" but shouldn't they at least get counted, for completeness's sake?

Defeated said...

" janitoring (new verb!)"

"Thurston, by the way, is a graduate of Sidwell Friends and Harvard."

He might have created a new word, but it is a gerund, not a verb. Someone said a few weeks ago that Harvard did not select exclusively by IQ; I guess that's true - he does seem well rounded. I'll forgive him if it was an oral interview, but if his responses were written, knowing they were to be published in the Times, I want Harvard's charter to be reviewed.

PublicSphere said...

Didn't improv work out pretty well for Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey?

This economic situation sounds like the situation of every performing art -- rock bands a few years before or after their hits, actors on stage in between film roles, etc.

Anonymous said...

All I ever wanted from black people was for them to just leave me alone and stay away from me. I can't think of one single way the recent black presence in Canada has "enriched" my life.

Defeated said...

"Five years ago the brain power demonstrated in the comments alone was quite intimidating. It appeared that professors and journalists with serious expertise in their respective fields converged on this blog nightly. "

Please "show" us rather than "tell" us by citing some examples.

Maybe Steve was writing all the comments back then, priming the pump.

Really, I think the more esoteric the original post, the more sophisticated the comments.

Is the Human Biodiversity Institute some secret society, or are we it?

Anonymous said...

I believe most of us over a certain age were taught to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition or splitting an infinitive. We were also admonished to show rather than tell in order to get a point across in our writing. Sailer always excelled at the latter. You doofuses, however, constantly make asses of yourselves implying you're part of the white upper class while using campy lingo and the lousy diction common to us all these days. You're as much a part of the decline as the struggling working class whites. Humility in facing this reality would serve you better.

Good writing isn't about aping WASP style conventions. Many people seem to confuse the clear expression of complicated ideas with affected, aristocratic, purple prose.

Anonymous said...

Comedy is another item on the long list of things that cease to be any fun when done for money.
Gilbert Pinfold.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty funny from The Onion. The picture is ambiguous, but its obviously about a black welfare mom.
"Commentary - Why Somebody Always Around Every Time I Drop My Baby?"
http://www.theonion.com/articles/why-somebody-always-around-every-time-i-drop-my-ba,11156/

Anonymous said...

Truth
"Five years ago the brain power demonstrated in the comments alone was quite intimidating."

"I must have come along just after."

Phrasing.

(lolz)

///

All my education is from the internet. I have no idea what a split infinitive is although it would be a good name for a band.

unimpressed said...

"Good writing isn't about aping WASP style conventions. Many people seem to confuse the clear expression of complicated ideas with affected, aristocratic, purple prose."

You mean good enough writing. The commenters I miss got their points across succinctly and elegantly; yet they were clearly an order of magnitude better than your typical college grad, including the communications majors.

Sideways said...

" He might have created a new word, but it is a gerund, not a verb."

Gerunds are verbs that act as nouns. You're wrong, he's not.

As for this place 5 years ago, I do not think banning Mr. "WHITE CHRISTIAN MALES!" caused a drop in quality.

Sideways said...

Sorry, apparently Jupiter's shtick was "NATIVE BORN WHITE CHRISTIAN MALES"

I alwways wondered if that guy did a lot of shouting in real life.

Robert Holmgren said...

My son has opted for a career as a comedian. He went off to college to study civil engineering, then it became business followed by filmmaking. Eventually he dropped out. He and his eight roommates--I know, it sounds like he's back in a dorm--formed a comedy production company. Considering his previous choices I'm not sure he has made a worse choice. I've noticed lots of his peers also choosing entertainment careers. Either this is a desire to become famous, or they are merely mimicing how they spend their time. Pity no one makes movies about chemical engineers.

David said...

>I emailed the author to learn how I should score my answer, but after a lengthy exchange, we concluded that anybody whose first reaction is to contact Charles Murray to discuss one’s taste (or lack thereof) in beer was kind of missing the point of his survey.<

Echt Sailer.

David said...

Youngish bubble swipples like to be Mean Girlish about non est lower-class blacks (and whites). The Onion captures the flavor. When they hit their 30s or 40s, however, the smirk fades. What you get then is either a hard-core hater (underground) or else a change agent for the revolution. Calcified arteries are ugly in more than one way.

Florida resident said...

Dear Mr. Sailer !
Here is an interesting interview with Charles Murray on National Public Radio (sound, but not a transcript):

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/02/14/charles-murray

Surprising for me was that the interviewer did not interrupt Murray, but allowed him to speak, even when Murray was saying something against interviewer opinion.

Your truly, F.r.

rho said...

Black and whites will all suffer alike during the forthcoming Beer War.

Matko said...

What is the beer brand of the upper middle class?

OLD HASBARA said...

Some wet-behind-the-ears'er posted this: "Five years ago the brain power demonstrated in the comments alone was quite intimidating.[...]These days, not so much."

Again you kids give it a nice try, but you fall short of the brass ring.

If you want to give Sailor the business, I suggest that you tell a story about the black girlfriends he has in the Valley. What black girlfriends? you ask. That's the point, schmucks.

You will never get anywhere planting that his site isn't "cool" any longer. These people are cool you're talking to? Don't make me laugh.

In my day, we would have deep-sixed absent-Steve and comment-decline in a heartbeat. Better a red-hot sex story or a dirty-mouth tirade or at least a little embezzlement, something a person could sink his teeth into.

The glory is gone, and I am going to bed. You disrespectful punks make me tired.

Manny

Defeated said...

"Gerunds are verbs that act as nouns. You're wrong, he's not."

I am only wrong if the word he created is a verb and not a gerund. There is a distinction.

Hail said...

"the Obamas were assigned each other because both were Harvard Law students."

What does 'assigned' here mean?

Anonymous said...

You mean good enough writing. The commenters I miss got their points across succinctly and elegantly; yet they were clearly an order of magnitude better than your typical college grad, including the communications majors.

I don't doubt that some achieved your subjective Platonic Standard of Great Writing, but dubiously existent golden age aside, that is merely a symptom. The disease is that people would rather rant than think discursively. It's disappointing when you read a thread with 100 comments and half of them are on how blacky (or his best friend Jewy) ruined their lives. Are we "HBD" or Stormfront?

edgy gurl said...

"It's disappointing when you read a thread with 100 comments and half of them are on how blacky (or his best friend Jewy) ruined their lives. Are we "HBD" or Stormfront?"

I hate the condescending comments about how blacky and browny need extra supervision. The more sanctimonious, the more I have the urge to buy a motorcycle (or steal it) and adorn my body with tattoos and piercings. Oh, and pop out a few illegitimate brats while I'm at it.

Hail said...

"...'the Obamas were assigned each other because both were Harvard Law students.'
What does 'assigned' here mean?
"

This 'assigned' thing reminds me of that old military joke: "If the army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one."

Vinteuil said...

Key & Peele's *Auction Block* sketch is just, really, truly, great:

http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=408308&title=auction-block&xrs=share_copy

Incidentally - both of them set my *gaydar* a-pinging, right off the scales.

Vinteuil said...

speaking of beer:

Poor as I have always been, I have often had to make do with some of the very cheapest of beers.

At times, I have been reduced to Natural (Ice). At other times, I have even had to resort to the worst of the worst: Milwaukee's Best.

But mostly, while dwelling amongst the lowest of the low, I've chosen the incomparable *Steel Reserve*

Sideways said...

Defeated, all gerunds are verbs by definition. The set of words in English that is both gerund and not a verb is empty.

Defeated said...

Dear Sideways,
I will never insult someone using a nebulous term like "gerund" ever again. Mr.Thurston, forgive me. However, a more profound rebuttal might have been, "Gerunds do not exist!" (as I have learned one side of the argument believes.) The gerund is the tomato of the grammatical world.

I think my blog act needs some janitoring up.