It's your good ol' Uncle O'Grimacey!
Oh no you di'in't!
When characters enact stereotypes for the amusement of others. Named after the 19th century entertainment phenomenon of Minstrel Shows
in which white performers in blackface
give comic performances, and later, black performers in blackface. The basic format continued well into the film era, resulting in Uncle Tomfoolery
Any show aimed at an in-crowd can fall for this unintentionally, particularly if satire acquires a Misaimed Fandom
. The movie Bamboozled
is based on that premise. Sometimes comedy is intended in the format of "We're laughing with you, not at you," but somewhere out there, someone is laughing at you. In other cases, it's a matter of tokenism gone bad, combined with stale comedy, and possibly resulting in an Ethnic Scrappy
The minstrelsy is often, but not always, played by an actor who is not part of the targeted group. These acts will often involve Blackface
, or other types of Fake Nationality
. If the actor is
part of the targeted group, expect members of the group to tell him to Stop Being Stereotypical
. If the targeted group ends up liking
the show, see Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales
Sometimes what otherwise might be minstrelsy actually works, basically through Refuge in Audacity
. But other times, it just results in a lot of Race Tropes
playing out with Unfortunate Implications
No connection to Papa Lazarou
Film — Live Action
- Lucky The Leprechaun and his Lucky Charms cereal.
- Many commercials feature loud black buffoon characters. Offenders include the Too Dumb to Live black dad pouring a whole bucket of sprinkles into an ice cream sundae in the Verizon Wireless commercials; the overweight, truck driving, Deadpan Snarker Soul Brotha beer distributor walking into baseball stadiums converting the fans to Miller Lite beer; and the luggage man in Southwest Airlines hollering, "Grab yo' bags! ISS ONNNN!".
- Crocodile Dundee plays with this, both straight up and subverted. A relatively innocuous case, unless you use the movie as a reference work about Australia. The late Steve Irwin played a similar schtick.
- The Pirate Lords in the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie are all rather...ethnic. Chow Yun-Fat commented in the press about being a "good boy" and portraying the Orientalist stereotype that was his character. Most of his role was cut by Chinese censors.
- Spike Lee's Bamboozled is a scathing satire of Modern Minstrelsy, taking aim at the cynical (white) minds behind the entertainment.
- Borat and Bruno, two mockumentaries by Sacha Baron Cohen, are provocatively constructed as minstrel shows of people living in third world countries and gay people, respectively. The real targets, however, are the people had by the routine.
- One of the terrorists in Executive Decision was played by standup comedian Ahmed Ahmed. After Ahmed moved from acting to standup comedy, he addresses his role in the movie in light of this trope.
- The Misaimed Fandom aspect is strong with Will and Grace's gay minstrelsy. A substantial segment of its audience doesn't support gay rights, gay marriage, gay love, or gay anything. They just like laughing at the quaint homosexuals. The show's sizable gay fanbase, however, appreciate the sympathetic characterization and relatively sparing use of stereotypes - Will is a successful lawyer, not (say) a fashion designer.
- Ditto Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
- Remember the first season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers? Not only were the character's costumes Color-Coded for Your Convenience, the Black Ranger had way too much of a Martin Lawrence thing going on. The Super Nintendo Power Rangers game even had him doing an offensive caricature jig. Also note that the Yellow Ranger was Asian.
- Dave Chappelle saw later episodes of his own show as this, which prompted him to quit. See the example in the "Stand-Up Comedy" section for more details.
- Monk has an unspecified anxiety disorder (although he's described in promotional materials as "obsessive-compulsive") that seems to combine symptoms from every last one in the book according to the Rule of Funny. Flanderization of his symptoms, and constant rounds of bringing him a step forward only to traumatize him further by the end of the episode, have driven any pretensions to realism or sympathy into the ground.
- The "Asian manicurist" as portrayed by Alex Borstein as Ms. Kwan, later renamed Ms. Swan on MAD TV would count, though Bornstein would later try and blunt criticism of the popular character via reworking the character so that she was smarter than she seemed AND revealed (in a one-off sketch) that she spoke perfect English and only acted like a dumb foreigner so that she could troll people for shits and giggles. Said to be based on Bjork.
- Also from Mad TV Bunifa, as played by Debra Wilson who makes Chris Tucker's Uncle Tom Foolery look subtle.
- Beauty And The Geek. Brainy, socially inept men and ditzy glamour girls. Frequently subverted, though, when the beauties find themselves out of their element and look like, frankly, clueless nerds, or when the geeks manage to come across as savvy. Subverted again when a female geek and a male beauty show up, causing even more cracks in the stereotypes to show.
- The Big Bang Theory: Stereotypical nerds, who can't even talk to their neighbour without being absolute freaks. Everything they do is to make them seem pathetic, useless, elitist or to attempt to look like One of Us.
- The Spirit of Jazz from The Mighty Boosh, a demented Voodoo jazz musician, as well as the two guitar players Rudi and Spiderówho were broad Latino stereotypesówere all played by White guys (wearing black or brown makeup ). Then again, Boosh has a very small cast so those actors tend to play everyone.
- Fiona Glenanne of Burn Notice has been accused of this. She's an Oirish, Hot Blooded ex-IRA terrorist whose prime source of income is running guns and whose contribution to every planning session is to suggest the application of excessive violence. All that, and she's played by an English actress, too.
- The show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and the Spin-Off in America have been accused of intentionally highlighting extreme Irish Traveller lifestyles and making them seem abnormal.
- 2 Broke Girls has often been accused to this, given the characters of Han (a numbers-obsessed Asian diner owner who started off speaking pidgin English) and Earl (an older, soulful black man who spoke often of his past affairs with women and his crack addiction).
- The Producers (as well as its film adaptation) does this with homosexual stereotypes, to such a ludicrous extent that there's no way any contemporary audience could think it was intended in seriousness. (Right?)
- Speedy Gonzales. He's very popular in Latin America; a theory about this is that he sublimates the complicated love/hate relationship between Latin American countries and the United States because, as stereotypical as he is, Speedy always wins over the evil gringo cat/duck/whoever animal).
- You could also see Speedy as a trope aversion. Where the stereotype is that Mexicans are slow and lazy, Speedy is fast and capable. The reason Speedy isn't shown anymore isn't really him as much as the other mice, who could be interpreted as lazy and helpless.
- Though even that image is subverted; Speedy's cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez embodied the lazy stereotype — speaking and moving absurdly slow — but subverted it by outwitting the antagonist whenever he got caught. Or shooting him in the face with his Hammer Space Hand Cannon.
- Drawn Together is one of many who take the "we're not making fun of the people, we're making fun of the stereotypes" stance, repetitively citing how much crap they put on Jews when the co-creators themselves are Jewish. Either way, it all quickly gets really old and consumes the show's original premise, which as you probably don't remember, was spoofing reality shows. Still, Take That stereotypes!
- Family Guy sometimes delves into this. Especially when it comes to the Irish, partially because very few people - even if they actually are Irish - still get offended by that.
- In general, one gets the sense that Family Guy is usually trying to parody the stereotypes, but, well... YMMV.
- Sealab 2021 even poked fun at itself for doing this. In a lounge song, no less. "Too dumb to be sarcastic so we keep provoking / make fun of minorities because of our inferiorities / but it doesn't matter, we're only joking!"