The Real Chocolate
Larry Wilmore delivers a smart send-up of race relations and racism in
Like a black (or as he would prefer,
‘chocolate’) Carl Reiner interviewing Mel Brooks as the ‘The 2000 Year Old Man,’ Larry Wilmore constructs premises like interviewing ‘The Man’ or
‘Black Jesus’ and others in his new book “I'd Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black Thoughts,” which first hit stores in late January.
A lot of the book isn’t simply a straight reproduction of stand-up
material -- Wilmore is more of a comedy writer and performer of a
variation on himself. He’s best known as chief collaborator on Bernie
Mac’s sitcom and The Daily Show’s Senior Black Correspondent.
Wilmore draws on the more transgressive nature of his Daily Show
appearances for this book, taking on the thorny ground of troubles in
race relations. Throughout his book there are references from a narrator
to Wilmore’s letters petitioning the NAACP to adopt ‘chocolate’ instead
of ‘black’ to describe African-American. “And you wouldn’t even have to
change your initials,” writes Wilmore’s own deluded version of himself
at one point.
Other notable chapters along these lines include “Take Me To Your
Leader,” which pokes at Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton through Wilmore
making his own case to become the next big black leader, noting that he
can “find blame in places you haven’t even thought of looking yet” and
“you’ll never be able to pin down what I do for a living,” but asking,
“I can’t do it without your help. Actually, I can, because I’m
appointing myself, but you know what I mean.”
More uproariously, in “Eulogy for the ‘N’ Word,” Wilmore gives an
elaborate reverend-like eulogy but in equally Mel Brooks-ian or Woody
Allen-like fashion (think of Woody sneezing away all the cocaine in
“Annie Hall”), slips up at the very end: “Someone handed a spent Wilmore
a bottle of water. After taking a sip he poured a bit onto the ‘n’ word
grave. The crowd seem confused and asked him what he was doing. ‘Oh.
That’s for the niggas that aren’t here.’ … You could hear what sounded
like a man screaming. …” One could easily imagine a scene like this in
an update of Mel Brooks “History of the World Part I.”
With “I’d Rather We Got Casinos,” Wilmore really has constructed a
cinematic, intelligent, satirical read that will have you laughing on
nearly every page. All the chapters or vignettes are short and sweet,
and some build on each other or continue a premise, as Wilmore later
comes back as a lawyer following his unsuccessful burial of the ‘n’
word, to defend its use in a court, as another premise. It’s enough to
even make one think we can all get along.