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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.

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.

Examples of Modern Minstrelsy include:


  • 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!".

Film -- Live Action

  • 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 developing countries and gay people, respectively. The real targets, however, are the people had by the routine.

Live Action TV

  • 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.
    • Except that both Word of God and Word of Actor (Walter Jones, the Black Ranger in question) have said that the casting was not intentional, and that nobody on the crew even noticed the Unfortunate Implications until after several episodes had already been filmed.
  • 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 Tomfoolery 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 Spider—who were broad Latino stereotypes—were 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 Romani lifestyles and making them seem abnormal.


Stand Up Comedy

  • Jeff Foxworthy and the rest of the Blue Collar Comedy set... especially Larry the Cable Guy, who isn't a Southerner, although the "redneck hick" stereotype, and that stretches well beyond the South into the rural Midwest. (Larry's from Nebraska.)
  • Martin Lawrence is often accused of doing this.
  • Many on all sides feel that Dave Chappelle was one of the few who truly got it right. Ironically, he was the one who came to feel that he was just reinforcing the types rather than sending them up and pulled his show.
    • The specific moment that Chappelle began to feel his show had crossed to the Dark Side was in the "Pixies" sketch, depicting pixies representing racial stereotypes telling regular people of various races to live out those stereotypes. The pixie for black people, played by Chappelle, is a ridiculously offensive shuckin'-an'-jivin' blackface minstrel. Chappelle reported watching a white crew member's reaction to the bit and being made deeply uncomfortable by his laughter.
    • Chris Rock has retired his famous stand-up bit "Black People and N***** s" for this reason. His stand-up album features him doing this bit followed by a white fan coming up to him after the show and enthusiastically saying "I hate n***** s too!", followed by the sound of a punch.
  • Patton Oswalt has a routine that tells the story of a movie audition he went to where he read for the Gay Best Friend. In the routine, he explicitly compares the stereotype to blackface.

  "Microwave popcorn and red wine, STAT!"

  • Ahmed Ahmed, for the Axis Of Evil Comedy Tour, had a bit about how he had to stop acting and focus on comedy because they kept casting him as an Arab terrorist. His stand up includes a bit where he got a role by trying to dial the farce Up to Eleven.


  • 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?)

Web Original

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • 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 Hammerspace 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.
  • Sealab2021 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!"
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