Oh, and he’s a total ass, too.
Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t expect much from the Lord of Unfunny Late Night, but a segment on last night’s show was so appalling, that it left Mr. Shakes and I both with our mouths hanging open in shock. First of all, I only tuned in because I wanted to see Colin Firth, who was the first guest (and who, by the way, was ever so charming and looking more Mr. Shakes-like than ever with his new beard, thereby deepening my existing crush). So, I watched The Colbert Report, waiting for Leno’s six-hour jokeless monologue to be over, and then flipped over. He still hadn’t gotten to the first guest, but was starting some skit called “Products of Tomorrow,” which should have been called “Jokes of Yesteryear.”
Product #1: A French Army Knife—complete with corkscrew…and white surrender flag! Ho ho ho. Trite; marginally xenophobic. Moving on…
Product #2: The self-healing computer—delivered with an Indian-in-a-box, who said (in a thick Indian accent) that his name was Brandon even though he hailed from New Delhi. “Brandon?” “There are more of us named Brandon all the time!” (Get it? Get it? Ha ha. Outsourcing is so silly!) Complete with red-dotted forehead, he was quite the computer-fixer-upper, who fixed Jay’s computer by slapping it. At the end, he asked Jay if he could do anything else for him. “Yeah,” the comedy maestro replied, “get me a burger and fries.” Somehow the retelling of this skit doesn’t quite manage to evoke how shockingly offensive it actually was. Neither Mr. Shakes nor I find race-based humor inherently offensive (hello, Dave Chappelle); this, however, was not humor—it was just flat-out racism, and left us looking at each other in slack-jawed disbelief. It was just…unbelievable. Racist; xenophobic.
[It was at this point I said, “When do we make fun of women?”]
Product #3: Breast implants attached to The Clapper. Just clap—and they inflate! (I actually may have been more offended by the use of a “Clapper” joke, whose sell-by date was 1987, than the product itself.) The audience was so thrilled with this hilarious Product of Tomorrow that they applauded wildly…thereby causing the implants to explode! Ha ha ha ha ha! Isn’t that hilarious? The best part was the close-up of the disembodied boobs blown to pieces. Hackneyed; sexist.
[It was at this point I said, “When do we make fun of gays?”]
Product #4: Brokeback Mountain saddle from Banana Republic. Modeled on a horse strewn with a hot pink feather boa, the gay saddle featured saddle bags (purses) from Louis Vuitton, a faux leopard skin saddle blanket (“Faux fur,” lisped Jay, “because we’re cowboys!”), a hair dryer instead of a rifle, and a disco ball saddle horn. It was at this point that Mr. Shakes said, “Oh my fucking God,” with a horrified look on his face. The audience laughed uproariously. Homophobic; sexist (so much homophobic humor is also sexist, using women’s items, like handbags, to mock gay men, as if to suggest they’re so ridiculous that they’re almost women!).
Honestly, I cannot even believe this shit is going on in 2006. It’s so infantile. And the thing that really bothers me is that Leno, though resolutely unfunny and annoying, seems to be a pretty nice guy. He has a reputation for being generous—and, at least in his stand-up act, for not relying on sexism or racism for laughs. His wife, Mavis, is the Chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan. Yet here he is, mocking other cultures, minorities, women, and gays for his fat paycheck. And America laughs right along with him.
Well, not all of us.
Get it together, Jay Leno. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
(And yes, I know that there are other things to worry about, but it’s bullshit exactly like this all throughout our culture that aids in the promulgation of all the other stuff we fight against every day.)