America's Post-Racial Farce

By Frank Rich, New York Magazine - May 21, 2012

Eight times a week, audiences at the play Clybourne Park are laughing at jokes as racist as any ever heard in a modern Broadway theater. While the audiences are mostly (though not exclusively) white, the racism onstage does meet a basic diversity quota. No sooner does a white man ask and answer the question “What’s long and hard on a black man?” than he is countered by a black female antagonist posing the riddle “Why is a white woman like a tampon?” Unlike the intentionally tasteless gags minted by the South Park guys at The Book of Mormon around the corner, these jokes were not written to sow escapist mirth. They are more mean-spirited than funny. The audience’s laughter is triggered not by the characters’ wit, which is minimal, but by the sheer audacity of their racial volleys. It is the audacity of rage, not hope.

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