A Comedy

of Race

RACE:  A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT WITHOUT A BIOLOGICAL FOUNDATION

The end of 1980’s saw a rise of black professional comics and the establishment of circuit of comedy shows involving The Posse, a group of male black comedians seeking to circumvent their marginalisation on television, to the Bibi Crew, a group of black women comics. Unlike the racial types performed by jesters in the seventeenth century Spanish Court, where carnivalesque representations of the “Spanish Other” (the Moor, the Turk or Native American) legitimised the discriminatory beliefs of the self-identifying pure-christian crowd, performances in the 80s and 90s raised questions about the extent to which black culture is reproduced for blacks as opposed to non-blacks. This series focuses on the impressionist comic, Felix Dexter’s sketch of Nathanial, the Nigerian accountant - a sketch in which a Caribbean man, is imitating an African man ridiculing West Indians. Njoabuzia continues the compositional tradition of jester portraiture to characterise the personas imitated by comedians - their contribution to the dialogue on race in the UK.

The Buffoon