Friday, February 24, 2012

All Jokes Aside

            I went into researching for this blog post with literally no ideas. So I went to the Chicago page on the NY Times website and read some of the top articles. From one of the most recent articles I learned about the existence of a 1990s Chicagoan comedy club called All Jokes Aside, which was black-owned with black comedians performing for black audiences. Virtually every big name in black comedy began their career here. One google search later and I found a Chicago Tribune article about the documentary Phunny Business that examines the rise and fall of All Jokes Aside ( The author, Christopher Borrelli, describes the club as a “self-contained comedy ecosystem” within Chicago’s African American community. This description reminded me of “The Black Metropolis,” and specifically of, as Professor Delmont put it, the way in which African Americans turn segregation into congregation. When baseball was still segregated, the black community created their own league, a response to mirror white American social gatherings. They created a new and thriving culture because of the denial they experienced in an existing one. Although present day Chicago is not the same as 1930s Chicago, segregation still exists (if you’re interested in present day segregation I recommend American Apartheid). In fact, Borrelli says that the film’s director John Davies discusses in Phunny Business that All Jokes Aside could only succeed because of cultural segregation in Chicago at the time. During its heyday (the club is now closed), Chicago’s white community did not even know about the comedy scene on the other side of town. This echos many of the things Gregory says about the Black Metropolis; much like the rich history of these communities that has gone overlooked, many people hadn't heard of All Jokes Aside until Phunny Business. Clearly, remnants of the Black Metropolis linger in a still very segregated America.

Here's a trailer:


No comments:

Post a Comment