GIGGLE CITY: Shaun Majumder’s anti-racist comedy
It won’t be long until Shaun Majumder is known for more than just being “the indo-Canadian comedian who isn’t Russell Peters,” if he isn’t already. Maybe it’ll be the other way around before too long.
Despite holding the Humourist’s Carte Blanche that allows any non-white comic to make fun of almost any race without consequence, Majumder has lately taken the high road. It’s easy to make racist jokes. The real trick is doing ANTI-racist material – and still be funny.
Fresh from stint on ABC’s cop drama Detroit 1-8-7, the Gemini-winning actor and comedian performs Tuesday, May 31 at the Winspear Centre. Buy tickets here.
(Adult content below. Reader discretion is advised.)
Q: If you could be any (other) celebrity, who would it be and why?
A: Charlie Sheen comes to mind. I think it’s just his savage, crazy primal, unfiltered mind, the ability to be able to tear through excessive amounts of pleasure, coke, hookers, and the way he puts it: ‘I’m just livin’ man! Fucking tiger’s blood, just ripping it!’ It sounds like a fun time. It would like to be able to do that in the fantasy world and then be able to still maintain my ambitious, focused, disciplined life that I am so proud of as well.
Q: Best heckler story?
A: It was in Mississauga, Ontario, at the Fox ‘n’ Fiddle in the late ‘90s. I’m on stage and there’s a hammered senior citizen face down in his fucking beer, and I just mentioned the name ‘Brian Mulroney.’ And up he pops, the angriest man you ever saw. He went from sleeping senior to UFC fighter in a snap as soon as he heard the words ‘Brian Mulroney.’ It wasn’t even a joke about Brian Mulroney. So he got pissed off, he was Scottish, he started yelling at me. I said, ‘Just hold on now, sir, relax.’ The crowd laughs. He thought I was totally tearing him a new one, so he got out of his chair and started coming up towards the stage. And I said, ‘come on now, just put your walker down, take it easy.’ The crowd goes crazy and he gets more furious. It took two large bouncers to hold him back from beating the shit out of me. I guess the walker line might’ve been the trigger point.
Q: Did he get kicked out?
A: They sat him down and I bought him a beer. He was OK after that.
Q: Do you have a favourite old bit but don’t do anymore because it’s stale?
A: I do an impression of a Scottish cat – mee-YOOO! It’s so stupid, but every fucking time I do it people laugh. It’s now evolved into – ha, ha – talking about immigration and the power of our country to be so beautifully diverse. Even animals are allowed to keep their traditions when they come to this country. Mee-YOOO! I felt like such a hack when I did this, but it works. If the crowd’s tired of something, I never do it.
Q: Do you have material you consider close to being over the line?
A: I did have thoughts about doing my nigger joke. It’s born out of an experience I had with a gentleman in Guelph, Ontario after a show with me and two other comics, two white guys, playing at some farm auditorium thing. So after we finished this guy comes up and says to the two white guys, ‘oh, my God, you guys were so funny …’ Then without even looking at me, he walked away, but then he points back to me and said, ‘Oh, the nigger was funny, too.’ He said it really clearly and specifically to the other white comics without even looking at me. It was fucking great! Whenever I tell that, people’s buttholes always snap shut and it makes it all tense and weird in the crowd. But this is an actual thing that happened to me. I say: ‘look people, if you’re going to be racist, you can’t be ignorant. You have to be well read, understand the race you hate, and what the correct terminology is for the slang of the race. That’s just pure lazy racism and not acceptable in the higher echelon of racist clubs around the world.’ Just the mention of the word nigger makes people upset. But I heard Lenny Bruce. [Are There Any Niggers Here Tonight? Circa 1965] It was great. It’s amazing how brave he was back then. So for me, to talk about it, it’s not that groundbreaking, but it’s definitely nerve-wracking. You can lose a whole crowd. If you can’t understand the irony of if you’re going to be racist you can’t be ignorant, then you’re kind of fucked for the rest of the show. I do that early in my act.
Q: Do you have something new that’s going over really well?
A: I do a full run about religion that I’m really happy to do. It has to do with me growing up in a non-religious family in a super-religious town. It was very difficult for me because I was a little beige baby and my mom was divorced with two youngsters, so she was going straight to hell. This builds up to these stories about God, like God created man in his own image. But I’ve been reading about some new fossil evidence, about an early hominid that’s 7.1 million years old. It looks nothing like modern man. So I think maybe God did create man in his own image, but God was a three-and-a-half foot ape-like creature who liked eating berries and wading in shallow pools and if he was attacked by animals he would throw poo at them. The problem was that God didn’t take evolution into account – because of course God doesn’t believe in evolution. He thought: ‘OK, that’s good’ when he put humans here 7-10 million years ago. He thought that was it. Then all this shit starts happening: ‘Hey, put that stone down. That’s not what it’s for. Don’t stand up! Why are you standing up? You’re going to get eaten by a sabre tooth tiger! What the fuck are you doing?!’ People love it.
Q: This is a question just for you: Is so-called ‘racial comedy’ still a part of your act?
A: I did do a little Indian stuff, but what it’s evolved into is racism in general and the idea, for example, that if you’re a racist and you immigrate to this country, it truly is a land of opportunity. If you’re a white supremacist and you’re raised in Sweden or somewhere, it sucks.