I admit it. One of my favourite comedians is Russell Peters. He’s a good old Canadian boy whose father and mother were born in India. He does satirical comedy. He makes fun of all races, creeds, religions, you name it.
I was watching one of his recent shows on DVD called Red, White and Brown. It was his usual stand-up of poking fun at his own race and laughing at the certain stereotypes of others. His audiences, surprisingly, love to laugh at themselves, because you will always see a big ethnic mix at his shows. And, I’ll admit, most of what he says is true! Especially living in Toronto where the “minorities” aren’t so minor. (Let’s just say B is one of the only Caucasian students in his school!) And I laugh my ass off!
On this certain DVD, near the end, he talks about being sent to a “special school” and at lunch time all the wheelchair kids would sit together and all the blind kids (“how did the blind kids find each other?”) And “the autistic kids would sit in the corner for 45 mins rocking back and forth”. No, I didn’t laugh at that point but I did laugh at his next.
We are trying so hard to raise awareness for autism and one of the most recent thoughts is how to get rid of the R word. Did you know that there is a sign for retard in the American Sign Language dictionary? Don’t believe me, go look it up yourself! It even shows you how to sign it! So Russell Peters points this out by saying “how much worse can we be to them when disabled people are making fun of other disabled people?” I laughed! It’s true! He shows how easy it is to get lost in stereotypes and no matter how much of the contrary you hear you have your own prejudices deep, deep down. Does that make me a hypocrite?
We were all brought up believing certain things about certain types of people. When those of us who had challenges thrown at us that involved rethinking some of these prejudices, we had no choice but to. I’m not only talking about having children with special needs, but I’m also talking about those with mental illnesses, or physical illnesses like cancer. Anything that made us need to rethink what we had been brought up to believe. That some kids are “retarded”, some people are “crazy”, “cancer kills you”.
Russell Peters takes those stereotypes and shows just how utterly ridiculous they are by having us all laugh about it. If you are not familiar with him, check him out on YouTube. And don’t be ashamed to laugh. His fan base is huge so all of them, including myself, have all learned to laugh at ourselves while laughing at other people. How can laughing so hard you cry be a bad thing? When he just happens to be making fun of something a little too close to home, THAT makes me feel like a hypocrite.