The Winter Olympics are well under way, which means the talk-show quest for the best “Boy, are these sports weird or what?” segment is also very much in motion. There’s plenty to choose from, but if you’ve been watching with a keen eye over the past few weeks, you’ve noticed a trend.
There is no easier bit in winter 2014 than black people and curling. It’s a riff on an old classic — tried and tested and known to get easy laughs — most notably appearing in Cedric the Entertainer’s “The Post-Tiger Renaissance” from The Original Kings of Comedy.
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“Next thing you know, we’re gonna be downhill skiing. We ain’t even gonna need skis, you know us, we’ll be out there in church shoes.” He goes on to talk about synchronized swimming, equestrian, water polo, and hockey. You know, the “other” sports. The “white” sports, many of which happen on ice or snow. It’s an amazingly funny bit. It is also from 14 years ago. Cedric didn’t mention curling in 2000, but had the Kings of Comedy shown up a decade later, it assuredly would have been his prime example.
Luckily or unluckily (depending on the host), we have two torchbearers to keep this joke alive: Arsenio Hall and King of Comedy (and Steve Harvey Show costar, and daytime television game-show host) Steve Harvey. Both comics’ shows have recently featured a curling bit. A black curling bit. A bit about being black and curling. A black bit about being black and black talking about black curling while black. Before we watch the clips, here’s a fun activity — try to guess who said which quote:
- “I watch curling. All the time.”
- “How come they don’t go after janitors to be on the curling team?”
- “What is that? Is that a puck?”
- “I’ve been wanting to try this. Forever.”
- “I’m gonna bring trash-talking to curling … Put it in the circle. Yo mama.”
- “Kids, this has been curling to the ghetto.”
- “How the hell did my shoe get down there?”
- “I’ma get some T-shirts made up. ‘Black people curl too.'”
- “I don’t know, I’m from the ghetto in Cleveland.”
- “Polish. Buff. Scrape. Shine. Bingo. Let it go. It’s happening.”
- “Steve Harvey’s in the building, baby.”
Make your guesses, and then sit back and enjoy Steve’s and Arsenio’s respective curling experiences.
The two videos, while leaning on the same tired shtick of “Hey, look at me, I’m black and engaging in this wintry mix of an activity, how crazy is it that I am black and doing this?” lead to very different results.
Steve replaced his eponymous suit with athletic gear, got onto some actual ice, displayed some prior knowledge of the sport, and was instructed by the USA women’s curling team. Arsenio, on the other hand, learned curling from the San Francisco 49ers’ Vernon Davis, did so on the non-ice floor that is his set, and delivered a laundry list of rejected Comic View jokes about the ghetto. Knowing this, it’s much easier to guess which host delivered which quote.
“I watch curling. All the time.”
“How come they don’t go after janitors to be on the curling team?”
“What is that? Is that a puck?”
“I’ve been wanting to try this. Forever.”
“I’m gonna bring trash-talking to curling … Put it in the circle. Yo mama.”
“Kids, this has been curling to the ghetto.”
“How the hell did my shoe get down there?”
“I’ma get some T-shirts made up. ‘Black people curl too.'”
“I don’t know, I’m from the ghetto in Cleveland.”
“Polish. Buff. Scrape. Shine. Bingo. Let it go. It’s happening.”
“Steve Harvey’s in the building, baby.”
So there you have it. While they each rest on terribly tired tropes of black people having no interest in winter sports, at least both clips exist, so you can be reminded of the full range of comedy, from the clever and somehow still entertaining (Harvey) to the Go home, Arsenio, you’re drunk (Arsenio).