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Cutting Room Floor

The N-Word: Not Funny

While perusing the papers this morning I came across a short AP article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It was about a performance by stand-up comic Eddie Griffin, who was pulled from the stage mid-act at a Black Enterprise magazine event outside Miami due to his repeated use of the N-word. It immediately reminded me of our interview with comedian Paul Mooney, in which he formally renounced the word (with which his routines were once heavily peppered). He said, "I had an affair with the word. I was romancing it. I was married to the word. And that was then and now it's time to divorce the word." At first, I wasn't even sure I was going to write about this — on the one hand, it's another incremental development in the Michael Richards story, and on the other hand, it's an incredibly thorny issue, particularly for a white woman to write about. But then I realized, thanks to this latest iteration I just have a lot of questions, and maybe you BotNers have some input. My first question is about comedians choosing not to use the N-word: Is it different when someone — or a group — makes that decision for you, as in Griffin's case? And secondly, as was raised by a commenter at Defamer: Is this going to end up putting black comics out of business? (I think Mr. Mooney would say no, after all, "funny is funny," even without that word.)

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