The year's 7 best comedy routines about race, so far

It was a hoot to see comics tackle some of the biggest race-related stories, from Donald Sterling to twerking

Published July 13, 2014 3:30PM (EDT)

     (AP/Chris Pizzello)
(AP/Chris Pizzello)

The glass is either half-full or half-empty when it comes to race in 2014: We've witnessed the overnight demise of Donald Sterling (though he is still a person who has power), people are taking a stand against the Redskins' team name (but the name hasn't changed), and “SNL” hired three black women (after a lot of outrage)! Progress is slow, uneven and rarely perfect -- so let these seven sketches, stand-up bits and monologues help you process race relations in the modern era:

“SNL's" “12 Years a Slave Audition” sketch

How hard is it to find someone to play a racist white man? "SNL" pokes fun at white guilt in a hilarious sketch about "12 Years a Slave":

If Black People Said the Stuff White People Say

BuzzFeed Yellow flipped the script on race, showing just how absurd and oblivious some of our questions are to people of other races. Following up on their video, “If Asians Said the Stuff White People Say,” they presented, “If Black People Said the Stuff White People Say”:

Michael Che on racial stereotypes

Michael Che, the “SNL” writer who penned some of Season 39’s sharpest racial satire, performed stand-up on “Late Night” in March where he made fun of how illogical and strange stereotypes are. These days, you can watch Che on “The Daily Show.”

Leslie Jones on her experience as a black woman

Finding itself at the center of controversy, “SNL” decided to do something about its lack of diversity in January: hire three black women. This sketch by new "SNL" writer Leslie Jones, who made her on-screen debut on "Weekend Update," wasn't perfect, but it talked about a reality rarely discussed in the mainstream media and opened up valuable conversation about race that, mercifully, wasn't initiated by a white dude.

Chris Rock’s BET monologue

Offering perhaps the best comedic relief of the year, Chris Rock opened for the 2014 BET Awards with topical jokes about Rick Ross, Donald Sterling and civil rights-era movies.

Hari Kondabolu on white people becoming the minority

The former "Totally Biased" writer has made a name for himself doing smart stand-up, tackling issues of race, homophobia and social justice. He recently appeared on "The Late Show" to calm down white people.


CollegeHumor has coined "Columbusing," the phenomenon of "discovering something for white people," or, as white people call it, "discovering things." Recent examples of Columbusing include Brooklyn, twerking and rock 'n' roll. And no, of course there's no such thing as reverse-Columbusing.

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Comedy Diversity Donald Sterling Editor's Picks Minorities Race Snl Video White People