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"Yo, white dude runs for president like this..."
—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
White Dude, Black Dude is a stand-up comedy routine so musty that it's now almost always done ironically, by characters who are supposed to be lousy comedians. The comedian is almost always black. He describes a mundane activity like driving a car or dialing a phone, and describes how white people stereotypically perform it differently from black people. That's the whole joke. While it's very hard to get a laugh out of people these days on this basis alone, a funny scene can come out of a character telling it. That's the magic of meta-comedy.
Historically, a lot of black comedians based routines on this format, which was shocking, transgressive and deeply satisfying for black audiences when they first heard it in the late '70s and early '80s. As part of the "blaxploitation" movement where black people started reclaiming and accepting certain black stereotypes as positive rather than negative portrayals of black culture, especially of black masculinity, male black stand-up comics started to turn white stereotypes of blacks being "uncivilized" and "dangerous" on their head, recreating the stereotype as white men being over-civilized, timid and cowardly while black men were powerful, independent and strong. Comedians such as Richard Pryor and Steve Harvey were early pioneers of the trope, and later comedians followed suit.
Over time, this style of comedy has become an Undead Horse Trope, and still it continues to live on, and on, and on... Successful comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle have become very successful with their own take on the format, often taking great care to find fresh new angles that work off of audience expectations. Younger and less talented comics, however, play the trope very straight to create cliche jokes for cheap laughs.
Generally, only minority comedians really can get away with using this trope without massively offending people.
- Johnny Ryan did a parody of this trope with Magneto doing a stand-up routine about "mutants do it like this". Ending with him getting carried away and blowing up the Earth.
- Down to Earth starred Chris Rock as a black comedian suddenly reincarnated in the body of a wealthy old white man. This proves to be an obstacle when he tries to win audiences over with his trademark racially-based comedy.
- 30 Rock has this as the staple of Tracy Jordan's comedy.
- Also used as parody once to illustrate how Tracy was growing distant from his fanbase:
"Have you ever noticed St. Bart's people be eating their lobster like this ..."
- Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip had a variation where the bad comic just played up a black stereotype.
- The Daily Show featured Jon Stewart trying it, inspired by Barack Obama's debate comedy.
- While Chappelle's Show did this straight on occasion, one particular skit parodied the concept, with Dave telling his White Dude, Black Dude comedy routine through interpretive poetry:
"When white people's power goes off, they panic...but when black people's power goes off, they plan it!"
- Carlos Mencia plays this trope straight, in-your-face, crude and often at the expense of Latinos to the point where it's a tad uncomfortable for some people.
- In Living Color made use of the trope. In one sketch, it lampshades the trope as one of the quintessential types of stand-up comedy, along with "Old Guy Who Complains About the Present", "Self-Depreciating Woman" and "Crazy Prop Guy".
- Hanna-Barbera's Legend of the Superheroes (a rare live-action show for HB) featured a superhero roast attended by Ghetto Man (Brad Sanders) who made such observations as "White superheroes have magic words like 'Shazam.' Black superheroes have magic words like 'Kareem.' " It was even less funny than it sounds.
- In an episode of Good Times, J.J. dreamed that he'd been replaced by a white guy. Said white guy wanted eggs benedict for breakfast, wore a pullover sweater, and said things like "Surely you jest!".
- Spoofed (but also pretty much summed up) in this flash animation. (Epilepsy warning: bright flashing letters)
- Richard Pryor was an originator of the trope
- Steve Harvey was another early adopter of the trope
- Eddie Murphy used the trope occasionally in his stand-up, and in some of his movies actually plays white characters with the use of makeup.
- Eddie had actually touched off some minor controversy with his The Nutty Professor remake, in which the Richard Simmons Expy (played by Murphy) was so convincing, people were accusing him of "reverse blackface."
- It may not be the first example, but when he was a regular on SNL he did a bit where he got made up (pretty well, actually) in "whiteface" and went "undercover". One memorable bit was him attempting to pay for a newspaper, only to be told by the (white) shopkeeper "What are you doing? There's no black people around, just take it."
- Dave Chappelle is noted for using this trope. His "white guy" voice is lifted from previous comics such as Pryor and Harvey.
- Chris Rock
- Mike Birbiglia, a white comedian, makes fun of this trope by inverting it, using the slur Cracker as a replacement for the N word.
In his high pitched, lame "white people voice": "So me and my cracka friends were drivin' down the street in my Volvo station wagon when I'm like, "Hey cracka, pass the Sun Chips!' And he was all, 'Not 'til we get to the picnic cracka!' And I'm like, 'Cracka please!' And he's all, 'Cracka whaaaaat?!"
- He goes further to state his love of that joke because of the voice.
"That voice makes all white people sound like British detectives. I feel sorry for the one guy in the world who talks like that." Then, in voice: "This is preposterous! Wait till I get my hands on that black fellow! But first, I gotta dance!"
- He also speaks of objecting to a black man trying to call him a cracker.
- Russell Peters' act tends to go along the lines of "white people are like this (insert lame stereotype), but Indian people are like this (even lamer stereotype)".
- Peters is somewhat unique in that his natural voice is much closer to the "white" voice than the "brown" voice, as although he is of Indian descent, he was born and raised in a suburb of Toronto, Ontario.
- The comedy team of "Tim and Tom" (Tim Reid, later famous as Venus Flytrap on WKRP in Cincinnati, and Tom Dreesen, still a working standup) not only used this trope, but embodied it. Performing in the late '60s and early '70s, they were the first—and last—"interracial comedy team" in America. Reid and Dreesen told the story of their brief career as "Tim and Tom" in a 2008 book, Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White.
Roland: So black bears be walkin' all like this! But brown bears be walking all like this!
- Parodied in Cyanide & Happiness. "White guys walk like this. Black guys walk like this. Zarcbukloids walk like this."
- The Simpsons have several variations. One notable attempt by Homer:
Homer: See, white people have names like Lenny, while black people have names like Carl. [Proceeds to laugh hysterically, while no one else reacts.]
- Also from The Simpsons was a black comedian comparing how white and black people drive (white people lean forward, use both hands, and hum in a higher-pitched, less cool manner).
Homer: (laughing) It's true! We're so lame!
- Groundskeeper Willie did a stand-up routing comparing how people from North and South Edinburgh play golf.
- Parodied in Family Guy (from "Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story"): Gandhi is a stand-up comic, and says, "...and the black people are always like 'Hey, bitch!' and the Indian people, we do not call our women in such a way." In the TV airings, this was Bowdlerised to "Americans".
- King of the Hill had Bobby copy the routine from a black driver's safety course instructor who taught through comedy. Voiced by none other than Chris Rock.
- What's worse, when Bobby is told that the routine he stole was "comedy from the black experience" and that he should instead find jokes "from his own experience" and his "roots", he goes online searching for "white", "comedy", and "roots". and ends up getting a collection of outright racist jokes from a KKK site.
Bobby: See, I'm so white that during the riots, I went out and bought a TV!
- Done on the Futurama episode "My Three Suns" with a Trisolian comedian doing a routine about the difference between those who live under the yellow sun and those who live under the red sun. Fry laughs his ass off and agrees, despite having been on the planet for about half an hour. Which tells you oh so much.
- An episode in Gary and Mike featured a typecast reality TV Show, with Mike's brother as one of the contestants. There was also "The Black Stand-Up Comedian", whose shtick is these jokes, in a Malcolm Xerox vein.
"When white man wets his bed, it's just 'oh he wets his bed', but when a black guy wets his bed, they say he's ruining the bed!"
- Reverend Jeremiah Wright, while drunk on the spotlight of the 2008 American presidential elections, went on a racial tirade that included a bizarre Black Dude, White Dude performance. Conservative news pundits nearly vomited with rage.