So I watched the video of Stephen Colbert testifying on Capitol Hill about immigration and AgJobs. More than once. I didn’t find it funny. You know what it felt like? A high school student doing a presentation in front of a class where they’re aiming for a good grade from the teacher, as well as snarky laughs from their classmates at the same time.
Listen, I’m not saying that you can’t be funny about immigration and AgJobs. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in Mexico it’s that you either laugh or cry about the tragic stuff in life. And laughing always wins in the end. So nothing is sacred in my life. I’ve made more than my fair share of immigration jokes, as has my husband Picasso. Christ, he and I made deportation jokes as we were waiting to be interviewed by what ended up being a deportation officer in Chicago. Gallows humor and all that.
But what are people applauding with Colbert’s testimony on Capitol Hill? The fact that a white man picked some beans and corn? His word play?
What did Colbert really do today besides let U.S. citizens who are not directly affected by immigration issues off the hook? U.S. citizens, particularly white citizens, can finally laugh about the fart in the room, i.e. the tragically broken immigration system in the U.S.
Because (insert sarcastic voice here) I know that it’s so hard for them. They want to help, but their hands are tied. So Steven Colbert brings “much-needed” humor to the situation. They re-post the video, to show that they’re “pro-immigration reform.”
You know, I was a professional comedy improviser way back in the day. Comedy Improv Rule #1: Make your partner look good. Comedy Improv Rule #2: Commit to the scene and your character 100%.
Colbert did neither in his testimony. The United Farm Workers (UFW) being his partner, of course. And by extension, Arturo Rodríguez, president of the UFW. And what was Colbert’s role? Concerned humanitarian? Comic commentator with a cause?
Or was it as a high school student winking his way through an oral presentation in front of the class?
For every person in the U.S. who isn’t directly affected by immigration issues and re-posts that video while applauding Colbert, I feel that it’s the equivalent of when a white person says, “I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body; as a matter of fact, I have lots of black friends!”
And his reference to gay Iowans as corn packers is reaching for the bottom of the humor barrel. Because (insert sarcastic voice here) when all else fails, throw in a gay joke!
His other reference to, “trying to get them to sing field songs” has definite associations with slavery. And when he says it, he’s looking for the laugh.
So this is the reality: Colbert’s testimony in front of Congress will go viral way before any DREAM Act videos do. I just have to look at my facebook news feed to prove that fact.
At the very end of the video, Colbert is asked why he’s interested in this issue. The first sentence to his answer:
I like talking about people who don’t have any power.
Interesting how he says “talking about” instead of “talking with”
Mr. Colbert, learn to be a better ally.
First step? Think before you open your mouth.