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Connector of the Day: David Alan Grier

October 13th, 2009
08:59 PM ET

LONDON, England - Just one week ago, a skit on Saturday Night Live mocking Barack Obama for his lack of progress after nine months in office was seen to mark "the end of the honeymoon" for the new U.S. president.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/13/art.david.grief.gi.jpg caption="Grier has turned his comedic eye on Obama."]

"When you look at my record," said comedian Fred Armisen in the role of President Obama, "it's very clear what I've done so far - and that is nothing."

And then Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The gloves are now clearly off for late night comedians in the U.S. who have been busy working up new material to entertain an audience ready to subject America's first black president to comedic scrutiny.

One of the comedians using Obama as inspiration is David Alan Grier. Television viewers may remember him from the series "In Living Color," but he's also a Broadway actor and the author of a new book "Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-Covered Truth."

The book, described as a part-memoir, charts the two years leading up to President Obama's historic victory in the U.S. presidential elections.

The book talks about how life has changed for black people in the U.S. now that they have a black president, and reflects on what Grier calls a "magic negro." (He says President Obama is clearly not one of them).

Grier calls Obama a "really cool customer," who provided comedians with a challenge to nail down the personality of the new administration before they could start unleashing their comedic wit, or venom, depending on your point of view.

What would you ask David Alan Grier? Should race issues be a 'no-go area' for comedy? And is Barack Obama ripe target for comedians' ridicule?

Send us your questions and we'll put them to Grier in Connect the World on Wednesday night.

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. dome

    Hi Papi

    Do you feel that Saturday night life was unfair to Obama as a non achiever"nada"?

    Ciao.

    October 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  2. Tina

    David Allen you are my favorite guy from In Living Color! Those were the days!

    Can you possibly tackle the issue of having a president who is a safeguard to prevent riots in the black community? Or focus on Obama as a marketing tool for the U.S. military; a means of filling more coffins with black youth?

    That would be hilarious to expose the reality to the black masses who think they are on top, but are really just being prepped as cannon fodder.

    October 13, 2009 at 11:33 pm | Reply
  3. Jebb

    I recently saw your amusing skit about the captured Somali pirate, using the crowds of President Obama's election win acceptance speach as a background. Do you not think it dangerous in your comedy to have clearly mis-categorized the pirate's nationality as African American when he most clearly is not American? Has not comedy, along with other forms of entertainment, contributed to the miss classification of "African American" as a race vs. being a heritage, when there are no specific or physical racial differences between a person of colour from New York, USA vs. York, England?

    October 14, 2009 at 12:10 am | Reply
  4. AJ

    I think it's sad that as Americans we scrutinez Obama and such a bad way. They considered him to be a failure before he was even in office which is sad. I believe that Obama is using his first year in office to get things ready to put America back on track. Also remember it's a Democrat House and Senate, and they ,not Obama, or making things worse for him. All and all , SCREW THEM ALL!

    October 14, 2009 at 3:12 am | Reply
  5. Subrata Datta

    Being black should not set Obama above jibes which do no harm to anyone.

    Laughter is a very serious business. There is the dry Brit humour and the raucous side splitting American kind. So I see no problems with any funny man poking Obama & he too should take it in the proper spirit.

    October 14, 2009 at 8:28 am | Reply
  6. Joseph AYOUB

    Mr. President,

    You're a great guy and we are lots of people by your side.

    Also would I say that, to have the sense of humor basicly resides in one's hability to distingwish sour jokes from pleasant ones.

    We need you to remain strong, to get even stronger and are fully confident you shall.

    I am sure of your success in the near future and then, as we say in French : "Rira bien qui rira le dernier" ...

    God bless you as well as your Family.

    God bless America and the whole world.

    Joseph AYOUB (France)

    October 14, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  7. Leviathan

    What kind of a %$& stupid question is that? Are you laughing at President Obama.

    Listen CNN, the president deserved the Nobel. Sure, it is difficult to evaluate things that dont happen, but as someone who watched the Security Council very closely, it is no secret that the Bush administration was gradually pushing the council to take more aggressive action on Iran. Instead of cheapshots, your vacuos journalist should do their homework and stop picking the low hanging fruit all the time.

    October 14, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  8. steve

    Do you think that black america identifies with the President? or has he possibly made the rift even stronger?

    October 14, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  9. ahmed

    Don't you think that your jokes take away from what Obama is trying to achieve? And make it all about race rather than about action?

    October 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  10. ghost geezer

    Look at it this way:

    I was not laughing at Bush.

    October 14, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  11. Delise

    Why are you making fun of the President? I don't like what you are doing, I feel it is counter productive to the youth of America, especially the black youth. Black folks finally get a great ROLE model and you choose to make fun of that. You are not funny! When I was young I laughed at "Stepen Fitchin" but stopped, when I realized that I don't see black folks like that. As an entertainer you could do better. There are plenty of situations in the world for you to make fun of. The President of the United States, what ever race he is should NEVER be made the butt of any American comedians' joke.

    October 14, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  12. Jim

    I laughed till I cried. We're screwed!

    October 14, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  13. Benjamin Adzeke

    Why is it that black have so much hatred for their fellow blacks, we have the PHD [pull him down

    October 14, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  14. Aeges

    His rise was Meteoric and so his fall will be painful obviously. If comedians are joking about him its only because he hasn't delivered on his tall promises. He raised peoples expectations to a level that was impossible to achieve and his predecessor (Bush) amplified this even further.

    He should have turned it (Nobel) down.

    October 14, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Reply
  15. claire

    i think Alan and any other comedian, should be free to do acts on the president...(it has nothing to do with race) if the president was white and a black comedian was to "ridicule" him would that be an anti white issue??? i doubt it very very much...there is still a right to free speech in this world...and even though it if for comedy value, there is still truth wrapped around it...obama truthfully has done NONE of the things he said he would... and whether we see it in comedy or internet or movies it is the truth and we should listen carefully...and do something....make sure we are not the ones being mocked here....

    October 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  16. VICTOR

    Well i will want to address this once and for all that it is only a fool who will use comedy in trying to point out the real issues of globalization such as racism

    and one\s colour has nothing to do with he's or her achievement in life ok
    Obama is a dream come through for the people of U.S .A and the world and he is a rare gem in the political economical educational medical scientifical religional and cultural even in media arena

    he is a space setter to other world leaders therefore mr comedian watch your togue

    he preach oneness to the American people and the world

    PLS LOVE HIM SUPPORT HIM DONT KILL HIM AND LET HIM LEAD U GOD BLESS AMERICA AND THE WORLD

    October 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  17. Terence Conklin

    I would like to see us address racial descriptions differently in the future. Mr. Obama is truly an "African/American" and that tag lets us know he is of mixed political heritage although the "American" part just happens to be a white woman. She could just have easily have been a black American, which is my point. Why do we persist in tagging skin tone and ask people to be color blind? Why is Mrs Obama called a "black" woman? and not an "American/American" like me?

    October 14, 2009 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  18. Charles Dicken

    I am not an American. I use to admire American politics and the people when I was young. But today, I am not. I think Americans are stupid or racis or both. Stupid because they expect President Obama to fixe every thing that have been messed up for 8 years in just 9 months, it this realistic? Is it fair? "No" it is not fair. Racis because all what most Americans are doing it to derail Obama's plan so that they can say, we told you that a black president can not do anything. Above all President Obama is both a black and white person. His mother is white who I am sure went through hell because of falling in love with Obama's father. His father is black, yes, does it matther? no. He has produced a briliant son who is now leading American and giving hople to the people around the world of peace, love and unity. Not suspision, threats, intimidation, scare and above all terorist. During Bush time every body became a terorist suspect, is that the world we want? No. Stop mocking President Obama. Remember that Rome was not build in a day. Slow but sure, ok . Mr. David Alan G and company.

    October 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  19. reyman

    well, imho race issues should be a ‘no-go area’ for comedy? no matter which race the comedian himself bleongs to. anyhing which connected to race or gender or religion, shhould not be subject to comedy.

    October 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  20. Willa

    I think laughing at politicians is one of greatest past times, but this stuff about Obama is simply not funny. Maybe if you're 4 years old it is, but really ... it is kind of, sorry to say, juvenile.

    October 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  21. LEROY CASHDAN

    I AM A SUPORTER AND ADMIRER OFPRESIDENT OBAMA, BUT I DON`T THINK ANYONE IN THE PUBLIC EYE, WHITE OR BLACK,
    SHOULD BE EXEMPT FROM A COMEDIANS ROUTINE

    October 14, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  22. OKAFOR BARNABAS

    In the midst of recism issues that just croped up in US. partly due to their present president, what does being black mean today in US. Any change from the past? from Nigeria

    October 14, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  23. jake

    americans are the dummiest people i ever saw in my live,when mr bush was sinking the country everyone was happy but now they crying like a set of spoil child because we have a black president. well bring back bush so he can finish sink you all set of fools.

    October 14, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Reply
  24. olusegun

    Do you think you are funny? to me you are not at all. Honestly,any comedian without constructive poke is unreasonable. Racial issue is a very sensitive one.and I do not think Obama need to be made a subject of laughter 'cos of his color or race, if you are run out of a way to entertain your audience please to get youself another job.

    October 14, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  25. Baigi

    David why don't you do a short where Obama's doing his nobel speech and Kanye jumps up the stage, steals mike and say "I'mma gonna let you finish, but my pet turtle had the best god-damn peace plans of all time"?

    Or something. Get the drift?

    October 14, 2009 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  26. Rich

    I don't have a problem with comedians making jokes about the President, and inclusion of race in humor is typical. I don't have an issue with any of that, as a general concept.

    However, I do think making jokes based on political opinion or activism reflects poorly on those who do it. For SNL to have made fun of Obama for not getting enough done yet, in their view, was a bad choice.

    To say Obama is powerless or serving no purpose is ludicrous. He has made a great contribution in reaching out to leaders across the globe and healing our image in the world. But further, even if he had done nothing so far, to say he'll do nothing before his term expires would be completely ridiculous unless you're clairvoyant. It's unfair, and it's lazy humor.

    If comedians and comedy shows can't find appropriate ways to make Obama jokes, they might want to pick another topic until an appropriate idea comes to mind. Otherwise you're playing to the dumb crowd and alienating intellectuals, when you could be winning over both with a better selection in humor. I realize comedy is hard business, but that's the point – there's an effort you have to make.

    October 14, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  27. frank

    I am not American, I have lived in US for a year, I am back to Europe. I think you should be proud of your president for many reasons.

    The funny situation is not created by him, One should criticize Norway and his commitee for trying to manipulate Obama. That government is from extreme left and by giving this price to him they are limiting his actions in Afganistan and Iran.... They might thinki that if he is nobel prize, he wont take actions out there.

    October 14, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Reply
  28. RASHARD BURKETTE

    The first thing I would ask David is if he is proud to have a black president. It seems as if he is trying to encourage people to be against Obama instead of looking at the positives. He has done alot since he has been elected. The race card is being played in a very negative way by alot of Americans. Barack is only a target to those who want him to be. He's the president now like it or not, so support him.

    October 14, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Reply
  29. Rick

    Has no one else figured out that SNL got wind of the Nobel Peace Prize a week before it was announced?

    October 14, 2009 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  30. Jean Smith

    To Whomever: Lay off this president. He is the only honest politicial of the whole bunch, with the welfare of the common people at the top of his agenda. Joke about somebody else.

    October 15, 2009 at 12:38 am | Reply

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