Now I'm a big fan of comedy. I do confess, though, that at times I'm baffled by where the line between the spontaneously funny and the offensive blurs. I guess when something is harmlessly funny or aims to make a deeper point clear, it's... well... funny.
Actress and comedian Azie Mira Dungey used to work as a historical re-enactor at Mount Vernon "playing" the role of a slave, Lizzie Mae, at the George Washington estate. Dungey had to answer, on a daily basis, stupidly ignorant questions by... well stupid and ignorant tourists. Now, she put together this hilarious web comedy series, where she answers the (real) questions she was asked when she worked at Mount Vernon.
Azie Mira Dungey explains the reasons that made her create this web series on her website:
"...This was also the time of Barack Obama’s first term in White House and his subsequent run for a second term.
I ask you to remember the racial tension that was all around. We had people saying that the President would be planting watermelons on the White House lawn. Emails were forwarded proclaiming that this was the beginning of a race war and the end of the country as we know it. People bought guns. (A lot of guns.) A scientist reported the evolutionary explanation as to why black women were the least attractive of all the races. The Oprah Show ended. It was mass chaos.
And in the midst of all this, I was playing a slave. Everyday, I was literally playing a slave. I mean, I was getting paid well for it, don’t get me wrong, and we all need a day job. But all the same, I was having all these experiences, and emotions. Talking to 100s of people a day about what it was like to be black in 18th Century America. And then returning to the 21st Century and reflecting on what had and had not changed.
So, I wanted a way to present all of the most interesting, and somewhat infuriating encounters that I had, the feelings that they brought up, and the questions that they left unanswered. I do not think that Ask A Slave is a perfect way to do so, but I think that it is a fun, and a hopefully somewhat enriching start. "
The questions in the videos are the actual questions, real people asked her (though the names and faces were changed to protect the stupid.) All the videos live here.