Monthly Archive for: ‘June, 2017’

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How to Be a White Man

How to Be a White Man. Written by Luna Malbroux and Jennifer Lewis. Directed by Nikki Menez. Faultline Theater, 144 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94102.

The laughs are at the expense of the 1% white males in this often smart, pedagogical comedy by first time playwrights Luna Malbroux and Jennifer Lewis. This demographic, receiving its due wrath in the public sphere, is ripe for comedy and this piece does a good job at framing its chiding perspective in the pretext of a black, lesbian standup comics desire to join that hollowed club and reap its rewards.

White male privilege is the demon here, the unearned assets held by the few at the expense of the many.  What the main character wants is to be a strong, black woman by working her way through the ‘steps’, a series of very funny truisms of privilege. She wants to be ‘innocent until proven guilty’, a concept seemingly alien in black culture. These steps make for some funny vignettes; Step 1- ‘If You Want It, Take It’, Step2 – ‘Embrace Your Inner Asshole’, Step 3 – ‘Did You Know You’re An Expert?’ Open season on examples like drug scalper Martin Shkreli, actor Christian Bale and of course the ultimate white male privilege icon Donald Trump makes for popular fodder her in San Francisco. Turning opinion into fact, using ‘white tears’ when confronted with one’s racism, and the ‘if it’s not about you, make it about you’ syndrome (appropriation) are smartly involved in the plotlines.

There’s some serious discourse on working mother’s owning their identities while being blamed for the failures of their children, the need for black people to work twice as hard for less reward, and a great scene by Derek Jones on the plight of black males. Jones’ character acknowledges the ‘threat or target’ mentality; he’s either “feared, fetishized or forgotten”. He walks a tightrope while society roots for him to fall. Some of the vignettes are sharp and pointed, others not so much. Political satire that exposes our prejudices can both make us laugh and squirm – which can be a very good thing.

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