How Do You Act Black? Comedian Nicole Byer Will Show You

By Kristina Cergol

LA-based comics, NICOLE BYER. You may recognize her of MTV’s Girl Code fame, or from her semi-autobiographical show, Loosely Exactly Nicole.

This sketch, Be Blacker: a SKETCH from UCB Comedy wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t true. I’ve worked at a talent agency for the past couple years, and have lost count of all the project breakdowns featuring ‘urban’ roles submitted by casting directors. Only rich white people in the entertainment industry could think of a sneakier, more roundabout way to insult people of color. In this case, Nicole auditions for an ‘urban’ role in a commercial that is so blatantly one-dimensional, the director asks her to pull inspiration from ‘Madea.’ She uses other trigger words such as ‘sassy,’ and then runs out of subtlety and asks her to straight up, ‘be blacker.’ What. The. F*ck.

The entire sketch is a reflection of so many (not all) white people’s idea of what it means to be Black; a combination of fried-chicken, Tyler Perry and beauty shops full of hair products with exotic names. And why should this character be any different? The fact that this Black girl could maybe enjoy some clams AND the newest Father John Misty album is not on anyone’s radar. Or, that it’s possible she can’t resist a good bargain OR a Girls marathon binge and froyo.

Ugh. I watch videos like this and I want to join witness protection. The funniest part to me is that Nicole goes along with it, when she should really be telling this woman to enjoy a nice, cold glass of Clorox but then again she’s just trying to book a role in Hollywood that inevitable goes to a white girl. The sooner we open ourselves up to the possibility that people, black and white, can be – dare I say – more than ONE type of person, for instance an Urban Chameleon, the sooner we can all start having fun again. Can’t a bitch just enjoy a ratchet night at the club and wake up in a pile of Frito’s, but also wear a floppy hat to boozy brunch? Hm…



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