“When I was in high school I was a really huge ‘SNL’ fan. I remember the cast around the time I started watching it - Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, Cheri O'Teri, Tracy Morgan. I did research to find out how people got on the show. Their bios always said they came from an improv team, so I started taking classes.” - Aubrey Plaza
@ucbtla: “Congrats and good luck to UCB co-founder #AmyPoehler, nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. #emmys #parksandrec
Photo of Amy Poehler in Gravid Water 8/7/11 with #AubreyPlaza by @liezlwashere.”
[Improv] makes you work with people better, just in general. And I don’t mean like work like at a job—just interact with people better. I keep going back to the same word “listening,” but it really is just that.
My UCB Life: Dirty Mexicans & Surviving Ignorant Improv
So I’m taking Improv 201 on Diversity Scholarship at UCB in New York and today in class, there was a scene where the “game” became a guy who doesn’t want anything Mexican because it will make him dirty and sick. (Yeah I know - trust - I know. Keep reading). We were doing a tag-in exercise so each person who joined the scene tried to give him something Mexican to react to. For example one student presented him with a Dora Explorer backpack, another with guacamole, and another with Cinco de Mayo margueritas. Each time he responded with reasoning about how it was dirty down there in Mexico and how anything Mexican would make him dirty and sick.
Ok, still with me? Great. So I’m cringing the entire time as the scene is being played and trying to find another person of color in the class to make secret “do you believe this!?” eyes with. I’m the only black person and the other person of color is on stage so I just sat in shock as the moment unfolded.
Me being me, I haaaaaaad to comment. After another scene went by I asked the instructor, “So what do you do when you end up in a scene where you are uncomfortable and don’t want to participate in shitting on Mexicans with stereotypes?” (I’m comfortable navigating token life but this is some next level shit. This wasn’t covered in token 101.)
Ok, maybe I could have been less blunt with my question but the answer just further perplexed me. I was told the scene was actually making fun of racist white men so it was ok and it would be different if there was someone playing a Mexican because that could be racist. (I know I know. Keep reading). My follow-up question was “But in order to play a racist white man in this scene we have to actually list every negative Mexican stereotype we can think of - isn’t that a problem?” The class proceeds to explode with reasons the scene is not racist. The best one I can remember is “It’s ok to make fun of Mexicans but not a Mexican”. Riiiiiight.
Would it still be ok if the game was anything from a gay person will give you AIDS? Any thing from a black person will make you ghetto? Any thing from a Jewish person will make you greedy?
I get that it’s comedy but is that an excuse to showcase hate and ignorance?
Let me know your thoughts.
Honestly, I think if UCB (and the comedy industry at large) really wants to address its diversity issues it’s going to have figure out how to address moments and issues like these. First and foremost, UCB is a school. They are training the next generation of comedians and writers. These people will create what ends up on our tv and movie scenes. I’m all about learning spaces with transperant, well facilitated dialogue on racism and bias and I think in order for all the “diverse” people the school is recruiting to feel like they are welcome and are equal creators in the UCB space this is important to address within the classroom curriculum. More than just saying “Don’t be racist” and hope for the best.
She is Amy fuckin Poehler. She was half of the Weekend Update team with Tina Fey and later Seth Meyers on SNL. She was also one of the founders of UCB. (the Upright Citizens Brigade) She has a show called Parks and Recreation on NBC that’s amazing and criminally underrated. She gets nominated for an Emmy for Best Comedy Actress EVERY SINGLE YEAR, but STILL HASN’T WON ONE YET. Its downright unamerican.
She’s also from Boston and played the mother from Mean Girls.
“Hoes before bros. Ovaries before brovaries. Uteruses before duderuses.”- Leslie Knope
Amy Poehler is fucking awesome.