Don Rickles Makes Racist, Unfunny Obama Joke
Insult comic Don Rickles told a joke about President Obama being a janitor. Like most of Rickles' material over the last several decades, it wasn't funny.
Insult comic Don Rickles told a joke about President Obama being a janitor. Like most of Rickles’ material over the last several decades, it wasn’t funny.
Hollywood Reporter (“Don Rickles Shocks Hollywood Crowd With Racial Obama Joke“):
Don Rickles nearly hijacked the American Film Institute’s tribute to Shirley MacLaine on Thursday night at Sony Pictures Studios, unleashing a trademark barrage of insults that took aim at President Obama, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and the honoree herself.
“I shouldn’t make fun of the blacks,” Rickles said, and then proceeded to do just that: “President Obama is a personal friend of mine. He was over to the house yesterday, but the mop broke.”
The problem with that joke isn’t that it tries to find humor in the president’s race but that it’s decades out of date. As Joe Gandleman observes, “Rickles has been doing the same, exact humor for years. In fact, some of his jokes are ‘switched’ jokes: jokes where you revise a joke using a different name or make a slightly different punchline.” That’s a tried-and-true technique. But, eventually, the culture changes and the joke becomes out of phase with reality. Blacks haven’t mostly been relegated to menial labor since, what, the 1960s?
Chris Rock could probably make a hundred funny “black president” jokes. So, for that matter, could Louis CK. Rickles just comes across as a cranky old coot.
I didn’t find Rickles particularly funny in the 1970s, but he was at least still current then. The non-racial jokes were just as weak:
“Shirley,” Rickles, living up to his moniker as Mr. Warmth, began as he rose to his feet from a table near the center of the room. “I never read your books, and I don’t plan to.”
Turning to MacLaine’s brother Beatty, he continued, “I know your brother very well, and I never liked him.”
Shifting his focus to Nicholson, who also was present, Rickles cracked, “He’s not here tonight – he’s with the Lakers, oiling their jocks.”
Taking aim at Jennifer Aniston, one of the actresses who shared the main table with MacLaine, Rickles claimed she “took my table at the Tower Restaurant one night because she was in heat with some guy.”
Surveying the celebrity-packed room, Rickles wondered where all the stars were, saying, “If Sidney Poitier hadn’t shown up, they’d be nobody.” Spotting Dennis Haysbert, on whose series The Unit Rickles had appeared, he shouted, “Oh, there’s the black guy from The Unit,” adding, “now he works for Allstate.”
This isn’t “shocking,” it’s just lame.